BBC boss says MasterChef move shows broadcaster is ‘pushing more out of the M25'

The popular cooking show and its spin-offs will be produced at a new studio complex in Birmingham.

The director-general of the BBC has said the broadcaster is “pushing more out of the M25” after announcing the filming of MasterChef will leave London for the first time since 2001.

Tim Davie said “the fundamentals of the programme” would stay the same but that viewers should expect “a few twists and turns”.

Production will be based in Birmingham from 2024 as part of a multi-series, six-year deal between the BBC and the producers of the popular cooking series, Shine TV.

Forming part of the BBC’s Across the UK plans, announced early last year, MasterChef will be made at Digbeth Loc Studios, a new complex founded by Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders.

This will include the original BBC One series as well as its professional, celebrity and junior spin-offs, plus any festive editions of the programme.

Speaking during a launch event, Mr Davie told the PA news agency: “I really feel the BBC should be producing programmes across the UK. In fact, we are pushing more out of the M25.

“Apart from that, Birmingham has this amazing history of programme-making. We still make a lot of great programmes here – The Archers, radio work going on here, Doctors – but we feel we could be doing more, and that is why MasterChef arrives today.”

Mr Davie said he would not reveal “all the glorious details” of how the BBC would be making the show in Birmingham.

However, he added: “But I would say the fundamentals of the programme are going to stay.

“It’s going to be a brilliant programme that people know. But I expect a few twists and turns as we come to Birmingham.

MasterChef final
MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace (BBC/PA)

“Of course, there is an incredibly vibrant and diverse culinary scene here. And all the restaurants here, all the things we can bring to the programme, that’s a really exciting thing we can bring here.”

Addressing the various cuts the BBC has made across its organisation in recent years, Mr Davie added: “I think for me it is utterly critical that we take our output and push it outside the M25.

“That is not really about saving money, it is about spending licence fee payers’ money across the UK. And we know that that infuses itself into the programme-making.

“There will be an unmistakable flavour, I suspect, of Birmingham in the new programme – and that’s lovely.”

In March 2021 the BBC unveiled plans to “better reflect” all parts of the UK with more programmes to be made outside of London as the corporation pledged to shift away from the capital over the next six years in what it said was its “biggest transformation in decades”.

The shift included news and current affairs programmes such as Newsnight being presented from different UK bases, and Radio 4’s Today show being co-hosted from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year.

Screenwriter and director Knight, who has been working for the last seven years to establish a film and TV studio in his home city of Birmingham, said: “I am genuinely thrilled that MasterChef is coming to Birmingham and honoured that Shine TV has chosen to locate such an iconic production at Digbeth Loc.

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight (Jacob King/PA)

“We will work hard to ensure that this internationally renowned TV institution instantly feels at home in our creative environment, and we look forward to welcoming many more blue chip brands into our rapidly expanding media neighbourhood.”

Shine TV is part of the Banijay UK group, whose others productions include Peaky Blinders and The Crystal Maze.

MasterChef initially ran from 1990 to 2001 and was revived in 2005 with a new format judged by John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

It has been the BBC’s highest rating cookery format over the past five years, and broadcasts in some 60 countries outside the UK.

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