TV spotlight returns to town

Howard Plant who features in the BBC's Summer in Blackpool.
Howard Plant who features in the BBC's Summer in Blackpool.
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BLACKPOOL is back in the national spotlight again tonight.

After getting something of a kicking in Channel 4’s 999: What’s Your Emergency?, better things are expected from BBC One’s Summer in Blackpool, a one-off documentary on which airs at 10.35pm.

Filmed throughout the last nine months, it follows the fortunes of three locals as they attempt to keep the resort, and themselves, ahead of the game through one of the wettest summers on record.

The Beeb documentary followed car park entrepreneur and businessman Howard Plant, variety promoter Tony Jo, and hotelier and President of Stay Blackpool Claire Smith.

The latter hopes it will paint the town in a better picture than Channel 4’s warts and all offering did.

“You do worry because I haven’t seen the final cut and I had cameras following me for a year so I’m not sure what they’ll show and what they won’t,” said Smith.

“We were promised it would be an upbeat, positive look at Blackpool and we as a family certainly did our best to promote the town in that way.”

Smith runs two hotels, Number One South Beach and Number One 
St Luke’s.

“I think they chose us to film because my husband’s mother-in-law is the chairman of Blackpool Civic Trust, I’m involved with Stay Blackpool, so we have a lot of family connections in the town,” she added.

“There was also the added twist that my son’s girlfriend lives down south and she wants him to live down there with her. But we were trying to keep him here to join the family business, so they were interested in filming that dilemma.

“I’m keen to see what kind of programme they’ve made... though I’ll have to record it because we’re in Bournemouth at a 60th birthday 

Plant, whose day job is car park management, was followed by the cameras as he tried to open a new cabaret and comedy venue in the old Apollo bingo hall on Waterloo Road in South Shore.

“It is a great venue, holds about 1,000 people, and it dates back to 1924 when it opened as a cinema,” said Plant.

“My dream is to get it open once again. I love Blackpool and I’ve invested a lot of time and money in the place. I hope the programme recognises me as someone trying to help the town.”

Plant hasn’t succeeded yet, he is still on the hunt for enough finances to get the business off the ground.

“I’m determined to do it, though, and I’ve already got 12 or so provisional acts booked,” he added.

“Unfortunately though it is in a state of limbo until we can get the money in place.”

The programme sounds like it should be worth watching and is the second BBC documentary in recent weeks to put the resort centre stage, ‘Blackpool: Big Night Out’ – a look at the entertainment industry in the Vegas of the North over the years - earning rave reviews over the festive period.