Grin up north...

TV comedy firms flock to Manchester

Manchester has received a major boost as a centre for creating TV comedy shows with the establishment of two new production houses.

Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow Productions, and a new joint venture between Channel X and Karushi Management are both setting up permanent bases in the city.

The news follows the success of the BBC’s Comedy Unit, which has produced the likes of Johnny Vegas sitcom Ideal, and the forthcoming Funland, co-written by the League Of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson.

Baby Cow, which was set up in 1999 by Coogan and fellow Mancunians Steve Coogan and Henry Normal, co-produced I Deal as well as a raft of other hits including Nighty Night,  Marion and Geoff and Alistair McGowan's Big Impression.

Normal said: "We are absolutely delighted to announce that we will be setting up in the North West, especially as both Steve and I started out in Manchester.  We aim to work closely with Northwest talent, new and established, both in front of and behind the camera.”

Baby Cow’s decision to set up a northern base, to be staffed by a team of three, was helped with a handout from North West Vision, which aims to attract independent TV producers to the region.

Its regional attraction fund also helped Channel X and Karushi establish their new project, Channel K – which will be both a production house and a talent agency signing up emerging comedy talent

Channel X is one of the UK's longest established comedy producers, and has been responsible for  Shooting Stars and the controversial animation series Popetown.

Alan Marke, head of production at Channel X said: “We believe there is a lot of new and untapped talent in the North West and we aim to uncover and nurture it.”

He will head the new Manchester base with fellow directors Jim Reid and Lisa Thomas, and the office will employ four staff.

Another leading independent production house, Hat Trick, which makes Have I Got News For You, also set up a north-west base earlier this year with the help of the fund.

 Alice Morrison, chief executive of North West Vision, said: "The North West has produced some great comedy talent over the last ten years and we know there is plenty more out there just waiting to be discovered. We welcome both Baby Cow and Channel K to strengthen the region's comedy base.”

Published: 2 Jun 2005

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