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Disappointment as town snubbed in Channel 4 bid

Channel 4 is looking to move out of London to prove that it is a broadcaster ‘4 all of the UK’, and there is no shortage of locations bidding for a share of the spoils.

Chester and Wrexham – very different towns yet just 12 miles apart - had made a joint cross-border bid to become the new headquarters . . . but have now discovered they they have failed to make the final shortlist.

Channel 4 is looking to invest an extra £250 million into its spending by 2023 and there’s stiff competition for its new regional centres from the likes of Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, and Stoke.

Chester, though, is already the onscreen home to long-running shows like Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, which officials felt could have been some small advantage. As could the city’s good transport links in all directions.

Sadly, this has not proved to be the case, with the final shortlist for two creative hubs outside London not containing the Chester and Wrexham submission. Chester MP Chris Matheson said he was disappointed that Channel 4 seemed to have 'done the obvious thing' and gone for big urban centres, even though most of the population lived in towns and more rural areas.

The joint bid was built on the close working relationship between Cheshire West and Chester Council and Wrexham County Borough Council, MPs, businesses and the wider community on both sides of the border.

The broadcaster has pledged to prove that it is ‘4 all of the UK’ – so it was felt that a cross-border proposal could be a big tick in the box. And there is certainly no shortage of distinctive, digitally-enabled high quality office spaces in and around Chester which can be tailored to meet exacting needs.

Chris Matheson felt the bid had been immeasurably strengthened by joining forces with North Wales, and said Chester and North Wales fitted perfectly with Channel 4’s mission to innovate, and not to do the obvious thing by going to one of the bigger cities. 

Channel 4 wants to set up three bases around the UK, one being its HQ and two further creative hubs. It has vowed to spend some 50% of its content funds in the regions. It estimates that 3,000 production jobs will be supported by the new business.

Councillor Mark Pritchard, leader of Wrexham Council, had been equally excited about the joint bid. He said: “This is a tale of two nations – and two neighbouring councils – coming together to offer one of the UK’s most innovative companies a unique opportunity. By teaming up with our neighbours Chester, we can put a unique and much more powerful proposition to Channel 4 – giving us more opportunity to be successful, and achieving an outcome that both Wrexham and Chester can gain from.”

As well as Hollyoaks, Chester is also closely linked with Channel 4 through the Bafta-nominated series, The Secret Life of The Zoo, and many of the required creative talent are already based in the area.

Pictured: Bafta-nominated The Secret Life of The Zoo on Channel 4


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