Regional Media Hubs Could Tap an Abundance of Talent; Jonnie Turpie, Digital Media Director at Maverick Television, Believes British Broadcasting Needs to Reflect the Country's Diversity, Exemplified in the Birmingham Region, and Invites Broadcasters and Independents to Work Together to Establish Hubs of Digital Media to Reflect the Regions through Digital Content, Production and Distribution
Byline: Jonnie Turpie
One of the driving forces when I started Maverick Television in 1993 was a desire for the emerging independent sector to have a strong presence outside London.
Maverick is based in Birmingham, a diverse region home to people from all over the world who have settled in the Midlands.
I firmly believe British broadcasting needs to reflect this diversity; its programming must discover and enjoy showcasing all the fascinating views, attitudes and cultures to be found the length and breadth of the UK.
Maverick has established deep roots in the city and the surrounding region.
Through a combination of this integration and staff living locally, we have authentic understanding of the character and diversity of the area.
This is of great benefit when making programmes that uniquely reflect our part of the country.
Bollywood Star is an example of how this knowledge and feel for regional culture can be reflected in programming.
Made by Maverick for Channel 4, the series gave viewers the chance to audition for a role in a Bollywood movie that would be shot in Mumbai.
The show had its genesis in Birmingham precisely because people working in the region understood the local passion for Bollywood.
As a result, a national audience experienced and enjoyed the music and flamboyance of these films through this innovative reality series..
With auditions held in the Midlands, contestants were encouraged to travel from all over Britain to take part.
However, it did seem appropriate for local resident Rupak Mann to triumph and fulfil her lifelong dream.
It was a truly regional production with national and international appeal. Two Royal Television Society Awards further confirmed the show's success.
However, Maverick does not just make programmes with a regional slant; our aim is simply to produce high-quality content from a regional base.
We have established a reputation for lively, high-rating popular factual entertainment shows such as Ten Years Younger and Embarrassing Bodies that have been made for network transmission, but the possibilities are limitless.
Birmingham is a hotbed of talent that can travel: last year, our series How To Look Good Naked was co-produced by Maverick in America. Meanwhile, our new series for BBC Three, Bizarre ER, is set in Norwich.
Although content or concepts for any of our programmes may originate in Birmingham, here is an example of a show that can migrate anywhere in the UK, placing a spotlight on local people and displaying a glimpse of their lives to a national audience. In common with any regional independent we must both retain and attract the best talent and be able to persuade it to remain in the region by continuing to win commissions for innovative programming.
We appeal to established talent precisely because of the quality and success of our shows. The best executives, producers and directors want to work on these programmes so are happy to stay in or move to Birmingham to work with us. In addition, it's been an integral element of my 25 years in the industry to encourage growth within the company and have young people joining us from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.
We have formed relationships with the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), Skillset (the national media training agency) and the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Birmingham City to offer work placements providing young people with experiences of the industry.
We have also co-operated with other independents and Channel 4 to provide opportunities for a 12-month grounding in the business to enable a wide diversity of people to gain a foothold in television production.
First Light Movies, the UK Film Council's young people's digital filmmaking scheme, is based in Birmingham.
Relationships with a range of organisations within the region are an important part of growth and development, not only for Maverick but also for the local creative industry. …