19th December 2022
This Website campaigns for better and more geographic- appropriate coverage for viewers of Regional TV who live in more northerly parts of North West England, that is in Cumbria and northern Lancashire: It is often the case that both BBC1 North West Tonight and, especially ITV1 Granada Reports struggle to cover happenings north of Preston and are very Greater Manchester and Merseyside dominated. ITV1 Granada Reports has not covered Cumbria for weeks!
However, it is BBC1 North West Tonight that does provide a pleasant surprise for viewers from time to time by covering the full geographical spread of North West England in it’s output. Tonight, 19th December 2022, there were no less than three news-features concerning Cumbria, two about Barrow-in-Furness (one of which was about BAE Systems providing extra high-skilled jobs for the town) and the third was about the legacy of a Springer spaniel called Max -from Keswick- who passed away earlier this year. Major fundraising efforts associated with this dog (who became famousduring the Covid 19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021) has raised money to support Great North Air Ambulance- a vital resource for reaching folk who suffer serious or life-threatening injuries in those parts of Cumbria that are otherwise inaccessible to road- based ambulances (i.e., the Lakeland fells). A further two news- features covered Lancashire, there was something for Manchester, an outdoor Christmas special for an impoverished community in Bootle, Merseyside, and the problem of closing Post Offices in Crewe in the south of Cheshire.
In short, the entirety of North West England was covered. This is not something that happens very often, but when Roger Johnson covers all parts of North West England from the northern Lake District to South Cheshire with such thoroughness, and when programmers for BBC1 North West Tonight decide to devote 40 to 50% of coverage to Cumbria and Lancashire, whilst still providing good coverage to the urban south of North West England they deserve praise. They prove that it is possible to ensure that viewers from Millom to Malpas, and from Tebay to Tarporley are happy with their BBC1 North West Tonight because they are all getting geographic-appropriate local and regional news-coverage.
Unfortunately, it must be said, nights like this with a good spread of news- coverage across North West England from BBC1 North West Tonight don’t come around that frequently, and one cannot ever imagine ITV1 Granada Reports providing three news- reports about Cumbria in their bulletins. However, when it does happen, it is a noteworthy event and this Website will always note it happening, if only to make clear to BBC1 and ITV1 in the North West- and to viewers- that if there’s the will, Regional TV producers can find a way to produce Regional TV that satisfies all viewers from the Lakes to Cheshire.
In fact, so good was BBC1 North West Tonight’s coverage of Cumbria this evening, that viewers in South Cumbria might have been better- advised not to switch over to ITV1 Border’s Lookaround– which devoted most of it’s coverage to Doddie Weir’s funeral: He was a famous rugby league player who first played for a local rugby team up at Melrose in the Scottish Borders, and later for Newcastle Falcon’s (hence his fame) and he died at the age of just 52 from Motor Neurone disease. Certainly this was a sad day for folk living in the Scottish Borders, and for rugby fans locally. This meant that, unusually, Cumbrian viewers got less coverage than they might normally have got from ITV1 Border’s Lookaround– but even then there were still four news- features, mainly about the north of the county.
The fact that it is so noteworthy to point out that viewers of Regional TV might have been better watching BBC1 North West Tonight for local news just serves to illustrate that it should not be some amazing noteworthy event: BBC1 North West Tonight should provide good, effective local all-round news-coverage on a daily basis to the extent that it should never be necessary for viewers living close to the Lancashire- Cumbria boundary to switch over to a Regional TV News-service set up (ostensibly) to cover locations close to the Scottish Border in order to get better local news-coverage. Alas, that remains to be usually the case!