Aviva Studios seen as potential base for Britain’s Got Talent and Ballon d’Or 

A Manchester-based arts venue has emerged as latest new TV facility in north of England, billed as a “breathtking” backdrop for drama sets and a potential location for major televised events. 

Aviva Studios officially opened this week with a live performance of director Danny Boyle’s immersive re-imagining of The Matrix through dance. 

Aviva Studios

Randel Bryan, executive director and deputy chief exec of Factory International, which operates the facility, told Broadcast that he has big ambitions for it.

The venue has a hefty estimated price tag of £240 million and is equipped to accommodate productions of all genres and sizes.

According to Bryan, who is a former Endemol Shine exec, Aviva Studios is the “perfect” out of London location for live televised events. 

“It’s a really expansive production space and it has the capabilities to really take on a myriad of different live event productions. We could do everything from the finals of Britain’s Got Talent through to The Voice with gallery and stage configuration,” he said 

The building’s main event space is known as the Warehouse, one large industrial space that can hold up to 5,000 people standing. It can be configured by its users as they see fit and is also home to one of “Europe’s largest” technical grids which runs across the entirety of the Warehouse’ roof and permits any type of use, from concert to a drama production.  

The space also has a movable, 21-metre high acoustic wall which can be divided to allow the space host two events simultaneously without disturbing each other.   

Bryan noted that the unusual exterior of the building would make a “breathtaking” backdrop for films and TV shows set in Manchester, as well as the facility being an “incredible set” that could be configured for the right drama. 

But it is also seen as ideal for live action and adventure productions that need a lot of space that can be reconfigured and utilized in multiple ways and that can accommodate stunts.  

“We’ll be trying to stretch our legs with stunts and events so that space can really start to cater for extreme sport or urban sports. I’d be nice to see what configurations would happen in those types of TV programmes,” he said. 

The Warehouse is accompanied by The Hall, a smaller 1,600-seater auditorium with a flexible stage and “the world’s biggest” proscenium arch that opens fully into the warehouse to allow the stage run deeper into the building.   

Bryan said: “That configuration of the venue is brilliant for awards and televised events. You can imagine things like the Ballon d’Or, Sports Personality of the Year, the Turner Prize or the Mercury Prize.” 

The design of Aviva Studios was led by architect Ellen van Loon, and marks the first major public building in the UK designed by international architecture firm OMA. With 13,350sqm of internal space, the building sits adjacent to Granada Studios in a section of Manchester dubbed ‘Enterprise City’, an area where the authorities are investing in production space.   

The Factory International is an organisation that runs Aviva Studios as well as the Manchester International Festival