University of Sunderland chief reveals talks with Sunderland 'Til I Die producers Fulwell 73 to create TV and film production centre in city
Sunderland looks set to become home to a world-class film and television hub after a university chief revealed talks were under way with the producers of Sunderland ‘Til I Die to set up a production centre in the city.
Fulwell 73, the team behind the hit Netflix documentary about Sunderland AFC, has become a leading international player in the industry, with The Late Late Show, the Friends reunion, and Carpool Karaoke among its famous outings.
Now Graeme Thompson, pro vice-chancellor for external relations at the University of Sunderland and Chair of the Royal Television Society Education Committee, has announced discussions are under way to open a production centre in its founders’ home city.
Mr Thompson revealed the news in his column for the Royal Television Society, in which he sets out his vision for the North East to become a leading TV and film production hub.
He said: “The University of Sunderland is talking to the makers of The Late Late Show and Sunderland ’Til I Die about opening a northern production base on campus.
“Fulwell 73 – named after the famous football stand at Roker Park and Sunderland’s celebrated FA Cup win of 48 years ago – wants its move to the North East to uncover new talent and tell new stories.
"But the group’s managing partner, Leo Pearlman, is also passionate about working with the university and others to support the skills agenda.
“The arrival of a successful and experienced production company alongside a BBC commitment to more content will be a transformative moment. Imagine a time when major productions can be conceived, developed, written, staffed, shot and edited here. And we can even make use of our own brilliant locations.”
Mr Thompson said he and others in the North East had also been talking to talks to BBC Group Managing Director Bob Shennan about the Beeb increasing activity in the region.
The university chief’s comments come as filming takes place in Northumberland on the next Indiana Jones film, with star Harrison Ford spotted out in Tyneside in recent days.
Many other productions, ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to TV favourites such as Vera, use the North East for location shooting.
But Mr Thompson said while that was great for the region, it did little to boost the TV and film industry in the North East.
He said: "The spectacular North East coast is a popular location for TV and film. Right now, its castles, cliffs and endless sandy beaches are playing host to ITV’s Vera and at least two Hollywood movies.
“But location work – though good for the tourist trade – isn’t enough to sustain the region’s screen sector, which has never really recovered from two decades of successive rounds of BBC and ITV cuts.”
He said the Fulwell 73 production centre and other projects would provide opportunities for new starters who struggle to find enough work experience or training to get them a foothold in a sector with an acknowledged skills shortage.