Channel 4’s proposed relocation has caused much argument but there is one city that is a clear winner among young talent in the TV industry.

Applicants for Edinburgh TV Festival’s Ones to Watch scheme voted overwhelmingly for Birmingham as the best place to host the channel’s new national headquarters.

From a total of almost 400 applicants, almost a third chose Birmingham. Most argued that the city’s “young and culturally diverse” population was a good fit for Channel 4’s remit. Many also mentioned Birmingham’s “good transport connections” to London and the North of England, which are set to be improved with the arrival of HS2, and cited how the high number of universities in the region would ensure a “steady flow of young talent”.

Manchester/Salford got the vote of 64 applicants. Many saw the move as an opportunity to create “the UK’s second media hub”, big enough to “rival London”, with Channel 4 alongside the BBC and ITV in Salford. Glasgow (47), Leeds/Bradford (35), Bristol (32) were also popular choices.

A large majority of applicants saw the move away from London as a positive step towards greater representation of the regions and nations in TV, and an opportunity for the channel to access pools of new and underrepresented talent. Many expressed concern that a London-centric TV industry puts up “financial and geographical barriers to new entrants” who live outside the capital.


“For Ones To Watch, we are looking for candidates who care about TV, how it’s made and where it’s headed. It’s been great to see so many thoughtful, well-argued responses to this question from the future of the industry.”

Campbell Glennie, Director, Education & Talent Development at the Festival

Ones To Watch identifies and supports rising stars already working in TV with at least three years’ experience, and has an excellent track record in identifying the leaders of tomorrow across all specialisms in the industry.

Interviews for this year’s 30 places will take place in June, which include a pass to the festival, accommodation, their own two-day programme of closed sessions and a year of mentoring. The final 30 will be announced in July.