Burnley has taken over your TVs | Rachel Bayley column

Doesn’t it feel like recently that, whenever you switch on your TV, Burnley is on it?
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Not that I’m complaining, it’s all positive and it’s making branding a borough certainly easier when you’ve got giants like Netflix coming this week to film in Burnley for The Bank of Dave feel-good movie, or Radio 1 DJ Jordan North rowing from London to Burnley for Comic Relief.

He will arrive into our town on Friday and we know he will be cheered on by you all.

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Both of these events present amazing opportunities to show off our borough to those from outside. When you live somewhere, it can be all too easy to be disparaging about it (although, if anyone from outside tries to criticise where you live, you suddenly jump to its defence!).

Burnley brand manager Rachel BayleyBurnley brand manager Rachel Bayley
Burnley brand manager Rachel Bayley

I was reminded of this when I took a location manager for Filming in England around Burnley for four hours. As a team, we were getting a bit fed up with the same backstreets being chosen to represent Burnley on our screens…every town has some tired-looking streets or less desirable areas, but it seemed like Burnley was always the chosen town to show.

I’d got an itinerary lined up and off we went. This wasn’t about just showing off the best bits, such as Towneley and Gawthorpe Halls, our beautiful parks and the gorgeous architecture at our two town halls or inside The Palazzo, for example (although of course we did do). But also how Burnley Council and its partners have regenerated vast amounts of Burnley and Padiham, which on the surface may seem like small changes, but bit by bit they add up to make a huge impact.

I was shown the most recent photo Filming in England had of Slater Terrace, for example. Needless to say, it was derelict and a mess. Fast forward to today, it’s been thoughtfully regenerated, but with modern interiors that befit the creative companies that call Slater Terrace home. It’s in prime position alongside the canal, flanked by UCLan’s Victoria Mill. Bridgewalk Apartments and the Sandgate Student Accommodation.

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The locations manager started snapping away with his camera, in disbelief that their images (and therefore the perception of Burnley by all of those film and tv crews looking at our section within their resources!) were so out of date.

What also struck me was how much we have to shout about. I probably chewed the poor guy’s ear off and no doubt he was overjoyed when I finally released him from my capture after four hours. But when you look at how far the borough of Burnley has come, the investment has been incredible.

Before we know it, Pioneer Place will be shooting out of the ground, on an aggressive and impressive construction timeline. By autumn 2023, we will have an amazing new cinema, several new leisure units, a public realm and ample parking.

No doubt there will be some critics of the scheme, as you cannot please everyone, but I know I’d much rather have that serving our town and surrounding locations rather than an eyesore of an empty carpark.

So if you switch on your TV and we’re once again on there, long may it continue!