WHEN the Liverpool Everyman Theatre won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for 2014, the judges said the building will 'both reassure and delight its loyal audience and those discovering this gem for the first time.'
It is a lovely and fitting sentiment for this striking building, but it could equally apply to so much more in Liverpool and Merseyside - a region full of cultural, architectural and creative gems - with which the BBC has been lucky enough to build a strong network of partnerships in recent times, very much triggered by our big move North.
Peter SalmonI have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Liverpool over the past few years and the scale of change and ambition in the city marks a new cultural renaissance. Liverpool feels like it has its old swagger back.
Not just the new Everyman, Tate Liverpool too, the Liverpool Biennial, this summer's Royal De Luxe Spectacular Memories of 1914, The John Moore Painting Prize, The Liverpool International Music Festival, The Waterfront Festival and next the huge plans for Cunard's birthday and the celebrations around the 175th anniversary of Transatlantic travel next year. Every time I visit the city it seems there is something exciting, fresh and new happening.
Since the BBC moved to the region in force, we have strengthened our relationship with Liverpool. This year we have supported a wide range of music, business, culture and arts events from the BBC Worldwide Showcase and the Liverpool Giants spectacular to Merseyside Mondrian and Radio 6Music's spectacular concert on Pier Head.
Our bedrock in the area is BBC Radio Merseyside which is consistently one of the most listened to local radio stations in the UK and whose reporting on national stories such as their work on Hillsborough is a good example of committed journalism. In addition, initiatives such as Radio Merseyside Introducing.....gives new musical talent a national stage at Festivals like Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds. It's terrific to add in regional TV content using nationally-known Merseyside talent like Sue Johnston and Peter Sissons to front special programmes on the Liverpool Pals or the Battle of the Atlantic.
This Wednesday on BBC One at 10.35pm, North West Tonight discusses devolution revealing what people in the region think about Westminster and debates whether the North West needs more powers to compete with London. It's the hot topic of the moment that has everyone talking - the Chancellor George Osborne MP was on the BBC Breakfast sofa in Salford yesterday unveiling Government thinking on this very subject.
And there's more of course - last weekend Clare Balding was on the Wirral broadcasting from Arrowe Park Hospital as part of Radio 2's Faith in the World Week; the Antiques Roadshow was in the city in September filming at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral just along Hope Street; we brought you golf's Open Championship from Royal Liverpool in the summer and the FA Cup is back on the BBC TV this week after a six year absence - featuring teams from the region on TV, Radio and Online over the coming months. Warrington v Exeter is our very first match this Friday in fact.
We continue to work hard to get even more 'Made in Merseyside', and I was in Liverpool last night to attend an event of the same name and the screening of 'Puppy Love' and 'Moving On' at the Everyman, giving me the chance to introduce two strong contemporary examples of TV coming from the patch.
Recently we've seen dramas and comedies such as Good Cop, Being Eileen, Common and Moving Up plus BBC Children's Rocket's Island and Starting Up, made in the city and on the Wirral. We hope to support even more productions in the future adding to the strengthening creative story and building the region's skills base, working with initiatives like BBC Writersroom to help nurture the next Jimmy McGovern or Roger McGough.
Puppy Love is a very funny series and it's great that we have two young Liverpool actors Selina Borji and Aron Julius making their telly debut with this six-part Comedy for BBC Four, which is about as good an example of nurturing your own talent pool as you can get. Set in a dog training school in the Wirral it is a lovely piece of work made by the brilliant Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine and which I would urge you to see. You will be tickled pink, I bet.
Moving On is the brainchild of Jimmy McGovern and made by local company LA Productions and it starts its sixth series on BBC One next week, promising to be as powerful as ever. Filmed in and around Liverpool, it comes from the Colin McKeown drama stable that the BBC has supported for many years, which is now flourishing.
Finally, it was revealed at the end of last week that for the first time the BBC has the majority of its staff based outside London. In 2007 London accounted for 58 per cent of BBC staff but that has now fallen to below half (49 per cent). It's good news for the regions and we want to make our investment count - even with the backdrop of the efficiency savings that the BBC has to make - working hard to find the voices, faces and stories from cities like Liverpool which deserve to be on your screens, radios and mobiles.
The architect who redesigned the Everyman Theatre described it as 'an institution that is owned and loved by the people of Liverpool.' Ultimately, that is how I want this city to feel about the BBC and although there might be a way to go yet, I think we're on the right track.
Puppy Love will go out on Thursday 13 Nov at 10pm on BBC4 – and ‘Moving On’ starts on Monday 10thNovember 2.15pm on BBC One