Sad day for north east TV as drama is axed

THE north east television industry has taken another blow as a major prime-time series produced and filmed entirely in the region is axed.

Wire in the Blood, produced by Robson Green and Sandra Jobling's Newcastle-based production company, Coastal Productions – the only independent production company producing primetime network television

in the north east - has not been re-commissioned by ITV.

After six years of successful filming, the last episode of Wire in the Blood was screened in the autumn of 2008 and was watched by more than 4.5m people.

The series has sold for millions world wide and consistently employed almost 100 crew when filming in the region. On average, a production such as Wire in the Blood would spend around 750,000 on an hour-long episode.

Tom Harvey, chief executive of Northern Film & Media, said: "This is a very sad day for north east network TV, an absolute tragedy.

"Coastal Productions have done a fantastic job of securing prime time drama for the north east.

"They have provided much needed jobs for local crew and ensured that north east locations have appeared in front of national audiences.

"It is hard to under estimate how important Coastal Productions, Sandra and Robson, are to the north east.

"That is why Northern Film & Media has been working hard with Coastal Productions to find a long term solution to current difficulties through our Network TV Investment Fund.

"But we also need to work with commissioners from across the major networks to find a route on to national screens for north east talent.

"Northern Film & Media's warning that the north east could disappear from national TV screens is fast becoming a reality.

"Culturally, it is vital the north east is represented on national screens. Without our people, our stories and our locations on network

TV the north east becomes invisible.

"The economic impact of this lack of production is also very serious.

"With no production in the region we miss out on filmmakers spending their budgets on regional cast and crew and facilities companies, not to mention money that would be spent in local hotels, restaurants, shops and bars.

"The number of locally-based TV professionals on Northern Film & Media's database has gone down from 300 to 200 in the last 18 months as work has dried up. Many have migrated to centres of production such as London or Manchester.

"If this continues and we lose our talent base, the north east becomes and even less likely choice for a commission."

Sandra Jobling of Coastal Productions and executive producer of Wire in the Blood, released a statement saying: "After a very productive 2008 which included the sixth series of Wire in the Blood, and the highly successful Place of Execution, naturally we at Coastal are very disappointed.

"We are especially sad for the creative talent in the north east who have contributed to Wire's longevity. However, Coastal continues to work closely with ITV and other broadcasters on developing new projects."

Wire in the Blood has shot extensively across the north east and there has been much reaction across the region.

Northern Film & Media have arranged a special meeting for all concerned with north east network television to be held at the Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, on Monday, February 16, from 6pm.

This meeting is aimed at industry professionals, or those linked to the industry, concerned about the current lack of production in the region.