Actress and writer Meera Syal has become the latest respected name to speak out about the lack of television programmes made in the Midlands, dubbing it “shocking”.
The Goodness Gracious Me star called for more investment in production in the region – and is backing the Post’s campaign demanding a fairer share of BBC spending.
Just 8.5 per cent of the £942 million collected from Midland licence fee-payers was reinvested in this region last year – less than the BBC spends in London in 12 days.
Ms Syal, who was given a CBE for services to drama and literature earlier this year said the region deserved better.
She said: “Pebble Mill used to be the centre of TV production but it’s shocking that nothing like it no longer exists.
“We are supposed to be the second city and yet there’s been absolutely no investment in making programmes here.
“I am totally behind any campaign to get the BBC to invest more in the region. We deserve better but we have been forgotten.
“There’s so much history here, it’s a fascinating region. Just think about the birth of the balti and of heavy metal for starters.
“It’s time we stood up for our region and told our stories.
“It would be nice to see our stories, our cities and our accent more on mainstream TV.”
Ms Syal follows in the footsteps of Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson in criticising levels of BBC investment in the West Midlands.
Midland-born actor Lenny Henry, who like Ms Syal has produced television for the publicly-funded broadcaster in recent months, also spoke out last month.
For every family paying a licence fee in this region, the BBC spends just £12 while it invests £80 in the North, £122 in Wales and £757 in London.
While the BBC has brought in a tranche of roles, largely in HR, to the region, it is only pledging to re-invest about 13 per cent into the Midlands by 2016.
By comparison, every other UK region sees a return of about 50 per cent or more.
Ms Syal is backing Lenny Henry, who last month screened his semi-autobiographical story about growing up in Dudley on BBC1, called Danny and the Human Zoo.
It received an overwhelmingly positive response and Lenny has pledged to make more TV programmes in the Midlands through his company Douglas Road Productions.
Both have written stories about growing up in the Black Country in the 1970s and feeling different.
Ms Syal, from Essington near Wolverhampton, is staging her best-selling book Anita and Me at Birmingham Rep from October 9.
She said: “Danny and the Human Zoo is like Lenny’s Anita and Me. The fact that it got so much attention and people loved it shows our hunger for these diverse stories. They are both very British stories.
“I am meeting with Lenny next week to talk about doing a production in the Midlands. We are both so proud of where we come from and have often said we should do something together.”
Speaking earlier this year, Joe Godwin, director of BBC Birmingham and BBC Academy, said the broadcaster was committed to boosting its investment in the Midlands where campaigners had criticised spending levels.
He said: “The BBC is committed to having a significant presence in the Midlands and we’re building a vibrant and sustainable base for the BBC’s future here.
“We’re bringing 300 new jobs to Birmingham, including the globally respected BBC Academy.”