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BBC must not neglect London-based talent, urges Kenton Allen

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BAFTA-winning television producer Kenton Allen has urged the BBC not to “abdicate its responsibilities in London” as it continues to nurture talent and production in the regions.

The former BBC comedy executive, who was responsible for launching BBC Comedy North in 2003 and who now runs Big Talk Productions, acknowledged there are performers and production staff who do not want to move to London, but said the BBC has to ensure it keeps the London “creative hub nurtured”.

He described production bases in Wales – where the BBC has opened a drama hub – and in Salford, where the Corporation is relocating several key departments, as “great”, but claimed the BBC needs to make sure it has a strategy for producing shows in the capital. Allen’s warning comes as the BBC looks to sell its production base, Television Centre.

He said: “There is talent outside of the M25 that does not want to move to London, so of course the BBC should have development initiatives, channels, developers and commissioners in the regions. The reason I started Comedy North was because there is a rich tradition of brilliant comic voices coming out of the north-west. The BBC should be there, and if there is any social engineering in it, it’s a good thing.”

Allen, who oversees comedy series such as the BBC’s BAFTA-winning Rev and Friday Night Dinner on Channel 4, added: “I think it’s great the BBC has initiatives in Wales, Glasgow and Manchester, but the question is, what are you doing in London? The lack of attention on keeping the London creative hub nurtured is something that needs to be discussed.

“What is the strategy for producing shows in studios within the M25 if the BBC gets out of the central London studio business, which it is planning to do?”

A BBC spokesman said: “No one need have any doubt about the strength of our commitment to making the highest quality programmes in London as well as in a range of other bases across the UK.”

For a full interview with Kenton Allen, see this week’s print edition of The Stage.

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