Blackpool seems to get mocked and knocked far too often, which is a bit annoying because it’s home to some of the most creative talent around.
Take two of the biggest shows on TV this year – both were the work of Blackpool folk.
The team behind Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Let’s Dance For Comic Relief – which went out on peak-time Saturday night slots – were born and bred on the Fylde coast.
The programmes went head-to-head on the BBC and ITV and were watched by joint audiences of almost 20 million.
So the fact they were completely in the hands of Blackpool people is one in the eye for all those who have a pop at the place.
Pete Ogden and Gemma Nightingale, series producer and senior producer of Saturday Night Takeaway, are from Carleton and Poulton.
Thornton lad Andrew Cartmell and Fleetwood’s Saul Fearnley were series producer and live producer on the BBC’s Let’s Dance.
The lads all went to Blackpool Sixth Form College (despite working on rival programmes, Pete and Saul are best mates), while Gemma went to Arnold.
All now live in London – they need to for work – but are fiercely proud of where they hail from (their families live in the area) and believe it proves the town dubbed the Vegas of the North is a better place than most give it credit for.
“Whenever you tell people in London you’re from Blackpool, they think it’s brilliant – and that makes you realise how special it is and how lucky we are,” said Pete, 33. “I’d much rather be from Blackpool than some generic town. People might slag it off but they remember it and I am so proud of being from the place.”
In fact Pete reckons Ant and Dec’s show summed up the best of Blackpool. “If you look at the show it is all about variety and entertainment. It’s about making people laugh, singing and dancing and enjoying yourself. That’s what Blackpool is all about.”
Andrew, 42, the key man behind the BBC’s successful Let’s Dance, said: “I remember going to the Winter Gardens as a kid and watching Little and Large and Michael Barrymore at the Opera House. That showbiz side to the town does get inside you.
“But for four of us from Blackpool to be working on two of the big Saturday night TV shows ... it must be something in the water in the River Wyre, they must pump in entertainment!”
Between them, the four have worked on some of the biggest shows on British TV, like X-Factor, I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here, Take Me Out and All Star Family Fortunes.
“Seeing all those end of the piers shows must have influenced us more than we thought,” said Saul, 34.
“And the really nice thing is that it shows you don’t have to be an upper class Oxford type to work in TV. Myself, Andrew and Pete all went to Blackpool Sixth Form and it just goes to show that if you really want to do something, then it can be done.”
So there you go, 999: What’s Your Emergency? might have made the resort out to be a horror story, but there are two sides to every story.
Blackpool has more talent than most places, as these four prove.