Tasty news for Screen and Film School Birmingham, as BBC’s MasterChef plans move to Digbeth
Things are going from strength to strength for the film and screen industry in Birmingham, and much of it is happening right on our doorstep in the heart of Digbeth. There is more good news to whet the appetite for our students in Brum as it has been announced that the long-running hit BBC show MasterChef is set to move into the old Banana Warehouse, which is very close to the Film School.
The BBC announced in February that it would be moving its much-loved cooking show to the city, revealing details of how the former Banana Warehouse will be transformed if plans are approved as they are expected to be. All formats of the show – from amateur, professional and celebrity to Young MasterChef and Christmas specials – would relocate to the Midlands.
The grade II-listed building, located at the Warwick Bar site next to the Grand Union Canal, dates back to the 1840s but has fallen into a state of disrepair. The site would be renovated and extended to create the new facility, which is set to feature a sound stage, smaller studios, pre and post-filming areas, officers, storage, outdoor filming area and parking.
It is hoped that production will be able to commence in 2024 with Shine TV, which makes MasterChef, agreeing a six-year deal. The Warwick Bar area of Digbeth was once at the heart of one of Birmingham’s historic manufacturing areas and was shaped by the canals which facilitated the rapid growth of that quarter in the 1800s. Our Floodgate Street campus is less than five minutes away from the Warwick Bar buildings, which makes the news even more exciting for everyone studying at the Film School.
This headline-grabbing project forms part of a wider regeneration in the area to create Digbeth Loc. studios which is being spearheaded by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Knight has switched his focus to the city centre after originally planning to open his new production studios at the NEC in Solihull. Alongside MasterChef, the new studios are expected to be used to film a planned Peaky Blinders movie.
The first incarnation of the MasterChef series was presented by television legend Loyd Grossman in the early 1990s. In 2005, the executive producers radically overhauled the show’s format and introduced a new series that was initially titled MasterChef Goes Large, but the name reverted to its current title in 2008. The new series was judged by John Torode and Gregg Wallace, and these two iconic foodies have been at the helm ever since.
The show proved very popular and became one of BBC Two’s more successful early evening programmes, leading to an announcement by the BBC in 2009 that it would be promoted to BBC One. From there its popularity has continued to increase and the news that it would move from London to Birmingham in 2024 came just prior to the airing of the next installment of the long-running show: MasterChef: The Professionals.
Here is what David Thompson, Screen and Film School College Principal, had to say about this news:
“This is yet another example of the exciting future that lies ahead for filmmakers and students of Screen and Film School Birmingham. As with Stephen Knight’s new studio at the Bond, BBC Midlands moving to the old Typho factory, and now MasterChef setting up in the old Banana Warehouse, Digbeth is becoming the new hotbed of talent for the next generation of film and screen enthusiasts. All of these buildings are within a five-minute walk from our front door, and as the weeks go by, more and more companies are joining us, it’s really exciting times.”
Stay tuned for more bitesize chunks of news from Screen and Film School Birmingham and sink your teeth into the prospect of a huge BBC production coming to Digbeth very soon.