When I was living and working in London for twelve years, I was forever surrounded by those who believed London was it; the epicentre of England. It has everything; music, culture, the arts, history, restaurants, bars and a ‘vibe’. It’s true that it embodies all this – but I was never bitten by the bug nor was I under the spell. I had a tolerance for London at best. To me, it was always too big, too crowded, too expensive, too overrated and too ‘up itself’.
In fact, in my humble opinion, our second city, Manchester, does ‘London’ better than London does! I have long been a believer that the North had far more to offer and in my book – Manchester beat London hands-down! Possessing such strong Northern roots (Dad from Manchester, Mum from Liverpool) perhaps I was biased. Perhaps it’s because I so narrowly missed being born in Manchester that I have always hankered after a bit of Northern living. So when my husband announced a few years ago that we would be moving back to the North West, I was intrigued.
My London crowd being left behind didn’t quite get it. They were imagining Coronation Street, endless rain and a land devoid of culture or ‘scene.’ So leaving behind their withering looks and patronising tones, we set off, M6 bound – our gateway to the North West.
Two years on, I will happily argue any smug ‘pro-Londoner’ under the table. In addition to our improved quality of life, lack of commuting, the great North West hospitality and an all round happier family life, the greatest opportunity for me has been in business. This is a great place to do business. In fact it is a great place for media industries in general. It’s no coincidence that the BBC chose to invest more than £800 million in Salford’s Media City as the new headquarters for Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport, BBC Breakfast and BBC Children’s departments. ITV Granada is soon to relocate 500 of its staff to Salford Quays including the mighty ‘Corrie’ becoming part of the MediaCity success story.
Digital agencies, production and post production companies, marketing, media and advertising industries across the North West are feeling quietly confident as this new media hub takes shape. There is a growing feeling of prosperity, confidence and ambition… But shh, don’t tell London; let’s just keep that to ourselves!