The Secret Millionaire in Peterborough

by Matt Mecham on November 21, 2011

in Other

Last night’s episode of The Secret Millionaire focused its cameras squarely on my home town of Peterborough.

Peterborough rapidly expanded in the 70s and 80s by adding ‘townships’. Some of these townships have fallen into disrepair and there are some very unsavoury parts of our city. However, on balance, I’d say that generally Peterborough is a prosperous place to live with many green areas and good local amenities. There has been a rejuvenation of the city centre areas and there’s been quite a substantial investment in developing industrial areas. Indeed, in this past few years Peterborough has attracted flagship gardening centre Van Hage (and in the same shopping complex an Edinburgh Woollen Mill and a Le Creuset), several chain restaurants such as Nandos and Chiquitos. Not to mention a Dobbies gardening centre and an ambitious extension to Queensgate, our shopping centre.

I moved here several years ago and I’ve always been impressed with how Peterborough manages to balance green space with good road systems and the availability of restaurants and shops.

The Secret Millionaire’s agenda is to make sure the setting looks suitably deprived and ‘urban’ as possible to underline the drama. This was achieved by cutting from different shots taken from around the city: overgrown garden; rusty fence with broken sign; rough looking pub; a bus; a walk through Bretton ‘spine’. These vignettes formed an impressive montage of misery. Anyone that lives here though knows these shots were collected from several locations within a 12 mile radius of the city.

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The best the team could do to highlight the youth crisis was to briefly interview four work shy lay abouts knocking around a kid’s park on a summer’s day. These late-teens wearing their designer t-shirts and expensive hair cuts sported the iconic iPod headphones and declared everything as “shit”. One bespectacled youth sensibly attired looked about as street as a luxury Range Rover.

Some of these so-called destitute areas are a stone’s throw from where I live. Indeed, one lingering shot of a rough pub set the scene nicely. Though if the camera did a 360 pan it would have taken in Sainsbury’s, Next, Boots and a Laura Ashley.

Of course, I’m not denying that Peterborough has some troubled areas. Government funding cuts have left several charities facing closure and the millionaire Mike Greene – originally from Peterborough – embraced his experience and did some real good with his cheques.

Shame then that most will write Peterborough off as a hell-hole when it has so much more going for it. I really hope that outside investors looking to move into the city won’t be put off by such inspired editing.

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