November 2010

Studio boss Waters on 'once in a lifetime' MediaCityUK

Studio boss Waters on 'once in a lifetime' MediaCityUK

As one of the very first people to leave the bright lights of London broadcasting for a new start at Salford Quays, Andy Waters surely embodies the pioneering spirit of MediaCityUK.

Until March of this year, the Welshman was head of studio at the BBC's world famous Television Centre in London.

He's now doing a similar job at Peel Media's state-of-the-art studios in Salford Quays – the facility which will be at the heart of everything that happens in MediaCityUK.

Waters, 43, is providing a tour of the gargantuan facility only a few days after the BBC made history by using it to film Protege, a pilot show which allowed his team to "crash test" everything from the fire alarms to what would happen in the event of a power cut.

Not only did the studio pass with flying colours, but Waters has other good news too.

The BBC has now extended its commitment to spend a minimum amount of money each year at the studios to a decade, with shows including Match Of The Day and Blue Peter set to be filmed here once the corporation completes its move.

Waters has also secured his first high profile "spot booking" for the 12,500 sq ft HQ1 studio, an Endemol-produced BBC 1 game show called Don't Scare The Hare. It is likely to be presented by Gadget Show star Jason Bradbury.

Other early success stories include deals which will see CBBC and Newsround take up residence in one 1,000 sq ft studio for the 10 years, with Cbeebies taking space in a neighbouring studio for three years.

Yet another incredible space, which is now nearing completion, is a new home for the BBC Philharmonic, which will practice and perform to the public.

The studio manager is optimistic about securing further bookings for the MediaCityUK studios – each given a name which reflects their HQ postcode – and says that they are as advanced as any in the country.

He says that it was not a difficult decision for his wife and four young children to make the move to Greater Manchester. They completed the sale of their Twickenham home only last week and are now renting in Altrincham while they decide where they should lay down more permanent roots.

"I realise that an opportunity like this only comes along once in a lifetime," said Waters, who worked for Limehouse Studios before joining the BBC and studied in Sheffield.

"Many of the people who will work here will be freelance, but I think that at busy times, there could be as many as 1,000 people here".

"To begin with, there will be people here, like myself, who have come here to work from elsewhere, but over time, I think it will be impossible to differentiate between the local talent and the people who have chosen to make a home here."

"I have no doubt that this is going to be one of the most exciting places to be in television."