The first edition of BBC Breakfast to come from Salford instead of London will be shown on Tuesday 10 April. It will be the last programme to move to the new MediaCity and, as expected, the presenters will be Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid, along with Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt.
“I’m excited to be moving to a new studio, with the very best in technology in an innovative, light-filled new building,” said Turnbull. “I’ve visited MediaCity several times already, of course, and its open-plan design and space make it much easier for people to mingle and exchange ideas.”
The BBC’s sport and children’s departments, and Radio 5 Live, have already moved to the new site on The Quays, Salford. Helen Boaden, director of BBC News Group and a potential future director-general of the BBC, said: “Breakfast completes our current moves of news output to Salford. The move means we now have 400 journalists based in Salford reporting locally, regionally and nationally, helping us find new emerging stars and better reflect our audiences.
“This will be a lively creative hub for journalism, bringing extra depth and richness to our reporting.”
The move has been controversial in part because of the expense: one estimate is that the total cost will be £877m. The BBC denies this, saying that the true figure is £200m and that the inflated estimates include running costs that would have been higher had all the shows stayed in London.
But the BBC Breakfast move in particular has also been criticised because it’s meant the show has lost two of its most popular presenters. Sian Williams left after ten years on the programme and sports presenter Chris Hollins had done six. Both chose to leave the show rather than move away from family and personal commitments.
There is also the issue of how BBC Breakfast will cover London-based events such as the Olympics and whether it will find it harder to get guests when the majority of news programmes remain in London. “I’m looking forward to welcoming guests to Salford,” said Bill Turnbull. “I think the package of what they can achieve there and do several outlets in one visit, will make the trip of huge value to them.”
Carol Kirkwood will continue to present weather from London and other locations around the country.
BBC Breakfast is on BBC1 weekday mornings from 6 to 9:15am. Watch Chris Hollins’s exit from BBC Breakfast on 21 March 2012 and Sian Williams’s on 15 March 2012.