Manchester

BBC stars look back at 35 years of broadcasting in Manchester

As the BBC begins to move into its new home at MediaCity, famous faces of TV and radio have been taking a nostalgic look back at decades of broadcasting in Manchester.

Since it opened on 18 June 1976, New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road has produced some of the corporation's best loved programmes.

TV highlights include It's a Knockout, Top of the Pops, Mrs Merton, Life on Mars, Question of Sport, Mastermind, Songs of Praise and Dragons' Den.

BBC Manchester has also produced radio favourites such as Women's Hour, Mark & Lard, File on Four and BBC Radio Manchester.

The 800 staff working at BBC Manchester move to the BBC's new northern base in Salford Quays this year.

Sir Jimmy Savile: Top of the Pops

"The BBC had a studio in Manchester [on Dickenson Road] which was a disused church and, anything they didn't want to do in London, they slung up into this old church. And, of course, they didn't want anything to do with pop music so that was our place. And it was marvellous until the figures for Top of the Pops go so enormous that the BBC couldn't have anywhere else but London.

"What happened with the early TOTP - nobody thought it was going to be important. It was 'a pain in the neck' it was something that had to be tolerated, all these people with long hair, so the idea of recording it for posterity... which is why they didn't bother to record the early days. Now, of course, the early days would be worth £1m an ounce."

Stuart Hall: Look North/ It's a Knockout

"I came to BBC North when it was on the floor with 100,000 viewers and, in desperation, the BBC turned to be me and said: 'Can you present it?' And I said: 'Yes, but only in my own style. I'm a storyteller, I'm not a journalist - I don't deal with hard news. I've got to give the people in the North West stuff that will entertain them; I want to do cooking on television, I want a revolution, I want to start things nobody has done before'.

"It's a Knockout had 15 million viewers every week - and it was produced in a shed. In a shed! We had all the set designers and we'd say: 'Let's have a castle.' And they'd say: "OK lads, we're building a castle.' And everybody got on with their job and it was fantastic. It was such a privilege to work in that environment. I think It's a Knockout today would be a fantastic crowd-puller but health and safety in this country has savaged the life out of everything."

John Humphrys: Mastermind

"I've watched the contenders walk out to the black chair and however experienced quizzers they are, however clever they are, you know they are scared. It's because this one, they know, takes no prisoners. You sit there, you have two minutes. I don't engage them in any chit chat. I ask them the questions and either they know the answers or they don't.

"It's interesting in the North West how successful in broadcasting it's been. And it's produced some cracking programmes over the years. I don't know what it is - there's obviously some material creativity but you would have to say the same in the North East. There just seems to be a marriage in Manchester between creativity and broadcasting."

Peter Jones: Dragons' Den

"I think it's a very simple concept. And like all good ideas, they are simple to start with. When you actually look at the basis [of the programme], you have got an individual who has got an idea and wants some money. Then you throw in five people who have got money to throw at them and then turn that into a show. It doesn't get simpler than that.

"I have to say its success probably has a lot to do with the creativity of TV experts. And when you look at what BBC Manchester has done, I think it will go down as one of history's most simple television ideas and ultimately one of the best."

Janet Street Porter: DEF II

"When I came to the BBC, they had a lot of long-running shows that were popular but were past their sell-by date - shows like Old Grey Whistle Test and Entertainment USA. And I was given complete free rein to make programmes that would appeal to 16 to 24-year-olds like I'd done for Channel 4. So I set about squatting for an hour early evening on BBC Two and I called that slot DEF II.

"I was completely dictatorial. I wrote on sheets of paper how they had to be shot, what they had to look like, what the people had to look like, what the graphics should be... I was a megalomaniac. But I wanted to make an imprint and make it look radically different."

Gordon Burns: North West Tonight

"I've presented the programme for 15 years and I regard it as an absolute privilege to be in people's homes right across the North West every evening delivering the news, very often heavy news, sad news, death, murder, robbery etc but, nevertheless, an absolute privilege.

"I think we've built up a bond with people in the region. Whenever I go out and about, the response is fantastic and you really get the feel for what people like and don't like and that really helps us to produce a programme which we are very proud of."

Auntie's Northern Soul is on Sunday 19 June, BBC One at 1730 BST.

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