Okay, let’s not get too excited, Channel Four announced this week that it’s chosen Leeds as its new headquarters. This is great news for my hometown and good for jobs and the profile of the finest city in the north of England.
But, in my honest opinion it’s about 20 years too late. How relevant is Channel 4 in the digital age? I can’t remember the last programme I watched on terrestrial TV – let alone Channel 4 itself. I also can’t recall the last film I watched produced by Film4.
As an experiment. I’ve just looked at the Channel 4 schedule for today (Saturday 3rd November 2018). Is there anything I’d like to see on Channel 4 or any of its other subsidiary channels?
A few repeats, the Great British Bake-off (never seen one episode) Location, Location, Location (my wife occasionally watches it). Come Dine with me? (no ta) Googlebox (not for me, although I have watched it occasionally – when my wife or stepdaughter want to watch it). A documentary on Dunkirk and a big budget Hollywood fantasy movie. The subsidiary channels are filled with American repeats. There is only one programme I’d like to see today and that’s A Place in the Sun – another property based programme. The only reason I’d like to watch that is because I fancy the presenter (Jasmine Harman – she’s lovely and the thinking man’s Kelly Brook…)
I worked for Channel Four back in the day, both directly on my film Family Style and indirectly via Lime Pictures on Hollyoaks.
To be honest, I think Channel 4 alongside the BBC, ITV and Channel Five (is that even still going?) have totally had their day as any sort of platform. I respect Channel 4 news – but only see their content on social media channels, I never actually sit down to watch it.
One thing that does excite me about the move to Leeds, is that Channel 4 have announced they will be building a digital hub here. That’s encouraging, Leeds has a thriving digital economy and lots of talent in the city with expertise in online marketing, SEO, digital content production and social media marketing (I guess – with this website sitting at the top of Google for various ‘script writer for hire’ search terms that I’m part of that workforce). Digital is the future, and that future is currently in the hands of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube – can Channel Four make a dent in that market? – I doubt it, but hope so…
Recalling Channel 4 when I was growing up – The Tube – The Word – Brookside – really great films coming out – fabulous alternative comedy from Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer – Jonathan Ross and the anarchic The Last Resort – The Big Breakfast – Comic Strip Presents… is there a tenth of that energy left at the Channel? If there is, I’m not seeing it.
On the plus side – I might see Jasmine Harman walking down Vicar Lane, the wind in her hair, eating a vegan wrap from Brod, I’ll try and grab a selfie with her if I do see her. But I’ll have to Photoshop out the homeless in the background, face down on the pavement off their heads on spice… (Welcome to Leeds as King Billy would have said…)
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org or hire him on Peopleperhour