CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Peter Salmon - Leading the charge North for the BBC in Salford's MediaCity

PUBLISHED: 15:32 06 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:48 20 February 2013

Peter Salmon on the Media City site at Salford Quays

Peter Salmon on the Media City site at Salford Quays

Peter Salmon, the man in charge of bringing the BBC to Salford, feels there's still something missing from his cv, as Paul Mackenzie reports <br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson

Peter Salmon has had, by any measure, a successful career. He has held senior posts at the BBC, Granada and Channel 4, he has won just about every award in TV. He is now a member of the BBC executive board and as director of BBC North he is leading the corporations move to Salford.

But he admits there is one lifelong ambition he will probably never achieve. I always wanted to be editor of the Burnley Express. I expect Ive missed my chance now.

Hes certainly going to be too busy in the next few months, overseeing the biggest move in the BBCs history.

Sport, childrens TV and Radio 5 Live are among key BBC departments - involving around 2,500 staff in all - which will transfer from London to the Media City site at Salford Quays.

This is a huge re-thinking of who we are and what we do, the 54-year-old said. It is a complete re-imagining of the BBC. The departments we are moving are really substantial and the breakfast show will be broadcast live from Salford every day.


I think over a period of time viewers will feel the BBC looks and sounds a bit different and they will see the places they live and are proud of.

It is not just a job for me to bring a big troupe of people north, I am using all my contacts and networking skills to move the BBC centre of gravity north by a few degrees. We will make a lot more content from this part of the world, working with people from a whole range of different backgrounds.

Peter, who is now married to actress Sarah Lancashire, was born in a small house in Trafalgar Street, Burnley, the third child of four for an Irish immigrant window cleaner and a Lancashire mill worker.

The house was busy with friends and family, music and stories, noise and laughter and beyond the hectic home life, Burnley felt to the young Peter like a bright, bustling place.

I was a story teller and entertainer even quite early in life and I remember the impact early television programmes had on me. I was very magnetised by Coronation Street.

I was aware, though, that I had been born in Granada-land. The BBC seemed very distant and very stuffy. I thought it was all too posh and that everyone there spoke Latin. I thought the BBC was beyond people like me and never considered that would be my career ladder. But now we have dragged it all closer to where I came from and that is a source of pride.

Peter spent his first 21 years in Burnley, then became the first member of his family to go to university - he chose Warwick because their prospectus featured a photograph of footballer Steve Heighway

The former St Mary Magdalen Primary School and St Theodores High School pupil was told by a careers advisor to seek work in a bank. He ignored them and did a stint as a VSO teacher in Malaysia and a government press officer before training as a newspaper reporter in Kent.

I remember Burnley as a place where things were made and stuff was built, he said. There is a strong sense of pride about what people have created, this is a wonderfully creative part of the world. It is a region full of story tellers. I got into the business because I wanted to be a story teller.

He joined the BBC as a trainee in 1981, working on programmes as diverse as Blue Peter and Newsnight. Over the following decade he produced Crimewatch UK, was responsible for more than 40 environmental programmes for Bristols Natural History Unit; was co-creator of Sport Relief, and was executive producer of Nick Parks Oscar-winning animation The Wrong Trousers.

He has left the BBC twice - for award-laden spells with Channel 4 and Granada, and then to launch his own production company - but has returned each time to work as Controller of BBC One, Chief Creative Officer of BBC Vision Productions, and, since 2008, as Director, BBC North.

I have always had a bit of a wanderlust, he said. I have made programmes all around the world and I have worked all over the UK, in Oxford, Bristol, London - I dont worry about my address. I have loved exploring and living in different places.



And now I am exploring the new north. It is a wonderful place to make connections and I have been impressed by how energised the new north is.

The 200 acre Media City site beside the Manchester Ship Canal, is now being kitted out with the latest technology in readiness for opening next spring. Shiny new studios, hotels and apartments have transformed old industrial land and the tramway system will start to run onto the new site this month.

But in these post-recessionary times - and with Media City expected to carry a total cost of nearly 1billion - the BBC is not exempt from the governments austerity measures.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced he is considering cutting the licence fee but Peter said: The coalition government is new and they are still learning about us. I understand why they have to say these things but I hope they appreciate what the BBC does. The licence fee underpins everything we do and we can only be as ambitious as we can afford to be.


I am on a mission. Not a mission from God, a mission from Lancashire. A mission to make the BBC more accessible. I know Ill never edit the Burnley Express but I dont want anyone else to grow up thinking the BBC is beyond them.

0 comments

More from People

Cushions that go slump in the night, spirits that make your leg go cold and hooded figures passing through closed doors are just some of the mysterious happenings at Lytham Hall

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Lancashire actor and presenter Lisa Riley has gone from fat and happy to slim and ecstatic. She tells Roger Borrell how she changed her life

Read more
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Poulton people came together to give an historic church hall a major overhaul, as Stephen Spencer reports.

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

Marketing Lancashire chief executive Rachel McQueen shares some of her best loved tastes of the county

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Many youngsters their age are content to play with their toys, but a Bowness brother and sister are happiest in their walking boots.

Read more

Enthusiastic amateur musicians from Lancaster are celebrating a special anniversary with a series of concerts.

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A 12-year-old from St Helens has gone the extra mile to say thank you to hospital staff for saving his baby brother’s life.

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Former Westlife star Brian McFadden is loving his new life in the Lancashire countryside, writes Paul Mackenzie.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

War stories from the Kay-Shuttleworth family history have gone on show at their ancestral home, Gawthorpe Hall

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Poet Yrsa Daley-Ward was born in Chorley to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father. She was brought up by devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents and worked as a fashion model before moving into poetry. Her latest book, The Terrible, is a memoir about girlhood, femininity, family secrets, addiction, sexuality and mental health. She now lives in New York.

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Making a television programme about the Lakes has re-affirmed Paul Rose’s deep affection for the area

Read more
Lake District

A fascinating look at the lives of Lancashire women in times past is now available to a worldwide audience.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

A new awards scheme,supported by Lancashire Life, is designed to shine a light on our successful family businesses

Read more

Lancashire was the first county to support the There But Not There campaign. Tony Attard explains why

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search