Leading UK broadcaster Channel 4 yesterday announced plans to relocate its HQ from London to the city of Leeds, 200 miles north of the capital. The move is expected to take place by the end of next year and will include a new Channel 4 News bureau.
What does this mean for the channel’s powerhouse movie arm Film4, which has backed countless Oscar winners over the years including Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years A Slave and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri?
A staff consultation is understood to be under way to determine which departments and staff move out of London. When I checked in with a senior Film4 staffer yesterday, they told me the team was in the dark as to who, if any, would be moving. A spokesperson added today, “It is too early to tell whether Film4 will be affected by staff relocating to the hubs.”
The relocation, a decision made to improve diversity of programming and boost the UK regions, will be for around 200-300 of the channel’s 800 staff. Most will stay in London. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that key Film4 editorial will relocate away from the UK’s main film hub. But it’s possible.
Channel 4’s head of TV drama Caroline Hollick is currently based in Leeds, which is a two-hour train ride from the capital. C4 shows to previously emanate from the city or nearby include Educating Yorkshire and the Red Riding trilogy. Long-running ITV series Emmerdale is also made from there.
C4 also announced yesterday that it will open smaller hubs in Glasgow and Bristol. The relocations come after the commercially-funded but government-owned broadcaster fought off plans to privatise it entirely and relocate its whole team from London.
Film4’s recent titles include Wild Rose, The Favourite and Widows. It has an annual budget of £25m. C4 is well known for debuting shows including Big Brother, Black Mirror, Shameless and Humans and it now carries hits such as The Great British Bakeoff.