The Quays to The Office

Clementine McFall

What difference does it make, I hear you ask, in an age where we get most of our news on a national basis, where the office is? Well, a big difference according to 2,300 members of the BBC’s workforce who, in exchange for keeping their jobs during the 2007 cutbacks, are being forced to move their work and families up to the new ‘MediaCityUK’ complex in Salford Quays, just a short tram ride from Manchester City Centre.

Now, as a London girl, born and bred, I can sympathize with the outrage of the London based employees. However, having only been at university here for two weeks I can already see the vast divide between North and South. “London?!” I hear local students say with disgust. “What’s London got that we haven’t?” And without switching allegiances too quickly, I would have to say, nothing. London doesn’t have anything that The North doesn’t have, and now it has the BBC.

The big problem lies with tradition, we all remember watching Blue Peter as children, and it was always a big thrill when they broke the fourth-wall of television and stepped out into the real world, usually to perform some crazy stunt.  It was then that we got our first glimpse of, let’s be honest, the classically outdated building that has been the BBC Television Centre since 1960. This iconic image has carried right on into adulthood, featuring at the start of the news and for special programs such as Children In Need and ComicRelief. Many a celebrity has walked through those doors, but not anymore.

However in Salford, the aptly named MediaCity is state-of-the-art. At a cost of over £155m it has been developed into a miniature metropolis with purpose-built apartments for producers and their families. As well as offices, sets of some of the BBC’s best-loved programmes are also being relocated and rebuilt, including parts of Eastenders’ Walford.

But perhaps most importantly the Quays is not only set to become a hotspot of media frenzy; it will also be a new and exciting tourist must-see, to rival that of Liverpool’s Albert Dock, the scenic location of Tate Liverpool. For Salford can boast of the Lowry Gallery as a permanent feature, which recently guest stared an Andy Warhol exhibition. If you missed this, have no fear there are also photography and film exhibitions, and a constant turnover of contemporary work. Add a theatre and plenty of cafes and for a mere £1.30 tram ride, Salford Quays is worth a visit while you’re up in Manchester.

PULP has teamed up with The Lowry to offer one lucky reader a pair of tickets to see Happy as Larry, the first ever UK visit by the critically acclaimed Shaun Parker, one of Australia’s foremost Director/Choreographers at The Lowry on Tue 18 October. Click here to enter.

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