Martin Wainwright's Myth Of The North



From the new digital and creative industries in Manchester and Cheshire, to the revival of the old textile industry in Yorkshire, Martin Wainwright demonstrates why the myth of the 'grim' North is vastly outdated.

He proposes that the cause of Britain's uneven productivity and wealth may lie in London and the South-East, not the North. While London continues to be talked up and the North talked down, the divide is entrenched - and the problem with concentrating the country's economy in the capital is overlooked.

The programme includes politicians Gordon Marsden and Kris Hopkins), geographer Danny Dorling, digital innovator Drew Hemment, and Barnsley's queen of fashion, Rita Britton.

Producer: Isabel Sutton

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.


Martin Wainwright overturns the myth that the twentieth century was a continuous story of decline for the North.

When people talk about Northern civic pride and pioneering, they inevitably turn straight to the Victorians. In the second episode of his myth-busting series, Martin Wainwright shows that the great era of municipalism did not end with the First World War.

Forward-thinking housing projects, such as Wythenshawe in Manchester, set the tone for a century in which the North was leading the way in terms of architectural regeneration and city planning.

The programme concludes with some of the best examples of recent regeneration in Leeds and Bradford. With contributions from Tristram Hunt MP, architect Irena Bauman, and historians Charlotte Wildman and Simon Gunn.

Producer: Isabel Sutton

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.


The myth of the North has been honed by writers, painters, comedians and filmmakers - too many to mention. Martin Wainwright takes a few examples - from the paintings of L.S. Lowry to BBC 1's Last Tango in Halifax - to illustrate how the North has been represented in British culture over the twentieth century.

Are today's writers and artists helping to dispel or entrench the myth? Speaking to television writer Sally Wainwright and poet Helen Mort, Martin asks what a Northern identity might mean in the 21st century.

Other contributors include music journalist Paul Morley, film critic Matthew Sweet and historian Charlotte Wildman.

Producer: Isabel Sutton

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.


The North has always been an outward-looking and open-minded place, as Martin Wainwright will show. And today, immigrant communities are playing an important part in regenerating cities.

Martin travels to Sheffield, recently associated with tensions between immigrant communities, but - in fact - a very long established haven for newcomers. Martin will find out why the first 'City of Sanctuary' still lives up to its name.

And how have newcomers helped to shape the image of the North? Originally from Ukraine, the novelist Marina Lewycka has now been a Sheffielder for much of her life. Many of her novels have Northern characters and settings. She speaks to us about her identity as a Northerner and how it influences her writing.

And in Manchester, Martin meets Peter Kalu, artistic director of the writers' development organisation Commonword. Together they discuss how Northern writers from ethnic minority backgrounds have represented the North in literature.

Producer: Isabel Sutton

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

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In the final instalment of Martin Wainwright's campaign to bust the damaging myth of the North, he heads to the North-East - the only region of the UK with a positive balance of trade. The future of the car industry, green technology, and the off-shore energy sector are his focus.

In Newcastle, Peterlee and Sedgefield, he meets business leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs who are helping to ensure the future of Britain's advanced manufacturing sector.

The programme includes economist Bridget Rosewell, business leaders Arnab Basu, Geoff Turnbull, and Harry Bradbury, and chief executive of the North-East Local Economic Partnership Edward Twiddy.

Producer: Isabel Sutton

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.