Ben Bilsland

Written by: Ben Bilisand

Ben Bilsland

Partner and Media & Technology Senior Analyst

Take a walk around Bristol – secretly the best media city in the UK?

  • December 2020
  • 5 minutes

Spoiler alert: if you are a Doctor Who fan stop reading now. The Christmas 2020special will include scenes shot in and around Bristol, including Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. For the average Bristolian this won’t be a surprise as part of daily life is skipping around road closures and production crews as the city poses as everything from a post-apocalyptic London in War of the Worlds to a never-ending early 2000s summer in Skins. Only Fools and Horses was set in Peckham, but Nelson Mandela House and the Nag’s Head were filmed on location in Bristol. Bristol blends its history with the new and the creative, which you can see by walking around the city.

For many Bristolians part of daily life is strolling past BBC’s Broadcasting House on Whiteladies Road, a grade II listed building and home to (amongst other things) the BBC’s Natural History Unit since its formation in 1957. Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II are the latest in over sixty years of world-class films and television in this area has created a broader eco-system of indies and creatives. The city is a home to some of the leading creatives in factual production. Bristol is also home to the Wildscreen festival, the world’s biggest wildlife film, tv and photography festival. Wildscreen is online this year and very much worth a visit at www.wildscreen.org

Bristol’s creative credentials were recognised by Channel 4, who opened their Creative Hub in January 2020. Bristol was selected as one of two creative hubs across 30 cities and the commissioning departments in the city include daytime, drama, factual and popular factual. The hub has a focus on boosting diversity and breaking down barriers in the industry. Channel 4’s home is within the redeveloped Fermentation Buildings, which used to be the home of a number of brewers. The Finzels Reach development is by the side of Bristol’s historic floating harbour and is home to a growing number of media companies. 

Just 15 minutes’ walk away, the floating harbour is also home to four-time academy award winning Aardman Studios – home of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit. Aardman don’t run tours but they are friendly enough to place props from their productions in eye-level windows around the building. The really curious will be about to see Shaun on the balcony overlooking the team garden. Aardman are arguably the highest profile of a wide variety of production studios that are too numerous to name. It was recently announced that Netflix have commissioned a ten-part original series from Wildseed Studios named The Last Bus. The series will be produced in the city and shot both on location and at the Bottle Yard Studios, the largest dedicated film and TV studio facility in the West of England.

Bristol is a city that innovates and changes. Queen Square, a sleepy and historic Georgian square in the centre of the city is also home to The Yogscast, one of the world’s largest producers of online content and Twitch streaming. It’s a fantastic example of a company doing something new and exciting from the city. The business was only founded in 2008 and has grown enormously. It’s also important to note they have also raised an estimated $17.7 million for charity!

Bristol is a creative city, which is so important to being a great place to work in media. The creativity is literally impossible to ignore as every street offers up cutting edge graffiti art of all different styles and hues.  The city is the home of Upfest, Europe’s largest urban street art and graffiti festival. Upfest turns 1.3km stretch of road into a gallery for artists alongside music, workshops and other activities. Upfest is online this year but the impact is still emblazoned across the city. The performing arts scene is supported by venues of different shapes and sizes from stages in pubs to our historic venues, including the Bristol Old Vic (established 1766) and the Bristol Hippodrome (established 1912). We look forward to these venues reopening in the future, alongside the newly renovated Bristol Beacon.  

The RSM team in our Bristol office are proud to work in the city. Our clients are fantastic and we love being in the heart of the city. Please contact me for more information on how we can work with your business.

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