Manctopia Credits

BBC documentary series focuses on Manchester’s city living boom

Starting on BBC Two on Tuesday evening, Manctopia: Billion Pound Property Boom meets the people living and working in the city’s residential development market.

Manchester is one of Britain’s fastest developing cities, with the population of the city centre set to double in the next five years. Filmed over 12 months, primarily within a one-mile radius of the city centre, Manctopia zooms in on the personalities who find themselves interconnected by the housing race.

Developers featured in the four-part series, which was filmed over 12 months, include Tim Heatley, co-founder of Capital & Centric, pictured in a scene from the first episode.

Manctopia Tim Heatley

There are also interviews with housebuyers new to the city and established residents who share their views on the volume of new people moving to the city.

Emma Loach, BBC documentaries commissioning editor, said: “Property can be a dry financial issue – but behind every property deal is a person and a family. This series tells the stories of their lives and the highs and lows of the property process.”

Grace Reynolds and Sophie Leonard, executive producers from Minnow Films, said: “We were struck by the building boom in Manchester and felt there must be a human story to tell behind the skyscrapers. We found people with compelling stories, living through an astonishing time, many of them strikingly interconnected. Through them we are able to learn all kinds of things about cities and their development, what home means to us and what the future may look like.”

From the millionaire looking for the perfect penthouse with room for 250 pairs of shoes, to the mum who just wants to find an affordable home her kids will love, to the heartwarming friendship of homeless shelter pals trying to get themselves off the streets, there are no good guys or bad guys, just real people trying to make a home for themselves – and others – in the city they love.

Narrated by Mancunian Sally Lindsay, everyone has their own challenges in Manctopia and they all tackle them with humour. With billions being invested in two square miles of city centre, this series speaks to the property developers and decision makers shaping the city and the communities who are struggling to keep up but so desperately want to keep calling their part of Manchester home.

With many new homes being built in Greater Manchester not classed as affordable housing, families who have lived in the area for generations are getting outpriced. The programme also meets some of the 5,000 homeless people across the city and looks at the services and charities out there to support them.

Manctopia will be shown at 9pm on Tuesday 18 August and at the same time weekly after that.

Manctopia Skyline


Your Comments

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Looking forward to this

By Bob

The BBC`s agenda is to push Manchester into some kind of northern capital city. Often at the expense of its neighbours. Any news about its neighbours is usually negative and likely to instill doubt in the minds of potential investors.

I wont be watching.

By The McDonough reverb

In 10 years time when the giddyness of building tall has somewhat settled and most other UK cities have their cluster of talls themselves, we are going to be left with some scars on our landscape because we have too much focus on quantity rather than quality placemaking. The inward investment is fantastic, its our time at the moment, but we need to get it right.

By EggManc

No thanks, I have Nerflix

By Dan

The City of Manchester wards of Ancoats and Beswick, Ardwick, Charlestown Clayton and Openshaw, Deansgate, Fallowfield, Hulme, Miles Platting & Newton Heath, Moss Side, Moston, Piccadilly and Whalley Range according to ONS has a population of 92,000. This includes some of the poorest wards in the UK. Tower cranes in the sky dont equate to occupied dwellings. Much of this is for the speculative investment and fractional markets. It will be interesting to see what the locals have to say about it..

By Billy

I will be watching this, looks interesting, four parts series on the expansive appartments and the middle class citizens living in them and the struggling families that can’t afford these expansive appartments and it also looks into our homeless on our streets and the programme will also feature affordable properties.

By Darren born bred Salford

I will be watching but I hope it offers the angle that the aesthetic of the city centre has been ruined by speculative development, corporate greed and a council that doesn’t care as long as there is ‘money’ coming into the city.

Yes, from a financial view Manchester is doing well but we will absolutely regret what we have allowed to happen to this city.

By Observer

Looks interesting but I doubt any of it’s findings will be a surprise to those who already live/work in Manchester! It doesn’t sound like it will be an exposé by any means.

By Anonymous

I doubt the BBC luvvies will be interested in talking their house prices down, let alone letting on to their London colleagues that all is far from perfect with their choice.

By Mike

All publicity is good publicity.

By C Saatchi

Capital and Centric was founded in 1963, Tim Heatley was not a co-founder, he wasn’t even born…

By anon

Mike, keep your jealousy on the SSC forum. It`s not difficult to work out who you are mate.

By Anonymous

What will eventually happen is the poor of the city of Manchester/Salford, will be dumped on surrounding boroughs and eventually not in GM at all. This is happening in London now, with people who have lived in boroughs like Tower Hamlets relocated to Birmingham because housing benefit will not supplement extortionate rents. Manchester’s doughnut ring is grim so it is unlikely professional people will move there, so skyscrapers will get taller and taller.

By Elephant

Sounds good and worth a watch

By Tha'knows

It is astonishing the development that has and is still taking place some of it good and some of it not so.The 10 yr Framework plan will need to address not just the city centre and the quays but also the next ring of districts outside of these. In the meantime the investment must be encouraged, more people, more places to live , more offices and jobs and more integrated transport . The world is headed into difficult times over the next few years. Those of us who’ve seen it all before know they won’t last and Manchester will be well placed to profit from it

By Nvr

Just to follow Elephant, the doughnut ring is really the acid test that Manchester has its strategy right. Can it bring those neighbourhoods back as genuinely inclusive places able to access the prosperity of the city centre and beyond.

By Rich X

It is astonishing the development that has and is still taking place some of it good and some of it not so.The 10 yr Framework plan will need to address not just the city centre and the quays but also the next ring of districts outside of these. In the meantime the investment in the city must be encouraged, more people, more places to live , more offices and jobs and more integrated transport . That can only be a good thing.

By John

Sounds like this show could be more about the people moving in especially the more well off and show offy type, only time will tell if they are not just posers?

By "I live on the 99th floor..."

I cannot believe the petty childish comments, some bordering on pure hate, I’ve seen over the past few weeks regarding this program, especially of forums like SCC. I don’t get it to be honest, folks, it’s just a TV program. I’m pretty sure that most of the issues that will be covered will be applicable to most cities in the UK…..(this will not be a Manchester love-in)

I’ve always been a glass half full kind of guy – all through my life, if I’ve seen someone who is doing something better than I do, I don’t slag them off, I ask or try and find out what it is they do that makes them successful at that thing. Instead of other provincial cites constantly hating on Manchester, maybe they should ask, what is it you did to be successful in the venture etc.

There are things that Manchester still does extremely poorly and other cities do much better – at the end of the day it’s about all regional cites trying to provide an environment that gives its residents better life chances and opportunities. We can all learn from each other, none of the regional cities are London, we are all fighting for the scraps of funding after the ‘Big Smoke’ has had its fill.

By Manc Man

This documentary will drive more investment from overseas, many other cities can only dream of getting the investment Manchester has and few have creative and innovative developers like Capital and Centric to boot. It should be a fascinating watch

By James P

“Middle class citizens that live in city centre apartments.” LOL

If you balance out what your mortgage in the suburbs is, plus the car repayments, plus fuel, plus insurance etc etc you’ll find in many instances the rent paid on said apartments balance.

I look forward to watching with interest, it will always divide opinions and draw criticism from negative folk.

By Cyril

Two apartments occupied in new former Coop building nr The Angel. All the rest are piggy banks for the Far/Middle East.

By ChesneyT

@McDonough reverb,,,,,,,,,the reality is that, if one considers key economic & social indicators like number of Hotels, no. of total hotel beds, no. of bars/restaurants, availability/stock of Grade A Office accomodation, construction of city centre flats/apartments, no. of overseas & out-of-town visitors etc.etc. Manchester and Birmingham should no longer be classed as provincial cities when they are in reality de-facto regional capitals. In 2018 for example, there were more flats/apartments constructed in Manc city centre, incl. Greengage & New Bailey areas (circa 11,500) than Birmingham (7,300) Leeds (720) Liverpool and Sheffield combined. In addition, Manchester is the only City outside of London which retains more than 50% of higher education students upon completion of their studies.

By Bilderburg Attendee

@Elephant. Silly.

By Anonymous

I have been looking forward to it and will defo watch! However do share the concern for people being priced out of the city. Also would have no desire to live in most of the apartments as look great but not a lot of space and when you drive past and see loads of knickers hanging on a dryer or over the hand rail and bikes on balconies you think ah that wasn’t the vision! Still not enough ‘family’ apartments in my opinion.

By Mary Smiley

City flats are for young professionals who want to enjoy the pubs, people shouldn’t be allowed children or pets in apartments, you need a house and garden for that

By Lol

These apartments are in the city of Salford and Manchester.

By Darren born bred.

It’s all very well throwing up skyscrapers like there’s no tomorrow, but who’s going to live in them?

By Liverpool hamlet

Ban foreign buy to letters

By Anonymous

Looking forward to the overview from a local aspect. Economics say that in five years time over supply & little demand will affect sellers market, try and sell your apartment at a good price when their are 1000 similar ones out there for sale! Having said that Manchester will always be a popular place to live as its nearly got every thing!


Nothing changes on these pages do they?
I’ve seen clips of the program and I’m thoroughly looking forward to watching the series. It’s marvelous what’s happening to the city centre and parts of Salford. It’s truly pathetic to see some of the comments, there’s another manchester revolution happening and there’s more to come.

By Phildered

Bilderburg Attendee and Manc Man appear to have their heads in the clouds, probably living on the top of the skyscraper in the city. Manchester IS good at many things but far from good at all. The deprevation index puts Manchester a 6th worst out of 326 LA areas. Betwen 1992 – 2010 £1,5 billion public funding (mainly EU) was aimed at the poorest areas of Manchester and little has changed in terms of deprevation. One says Manchester “retains” 50% of students; does it really retain them, or cant they get out because of poor jobs and social immobility? Hulme once had one of the highest proportions of post grads in the UK…….. that fact never did anything for Manchester, Yes there are more Aston Martins in Manchester than 30 years ago, but there are also more people now without a car than 30 years ago. I doubt few if any have seen this programme and the belief is that its going to show Manchester as the be all and end all. The short clip I have seen does not suggest everyone from Manchester think like some on this site. I can bet it will show a load of ‘Loadsa-money’ types, yet it will be far more intestesting to see what the real mancs in these areas think about whats happening.

By Anonymous

I work in Manchester but don’t live there. Over the past 8 years the amount of towers that have been built is remarkable and the city is benefiting from lots of investment. If the city centre population is set to double like the article states then the already horrendous traffic will be even worse. I honestly can’t wait to get out of the place at the end of my shift. The amount of homeless people in Manchester is staggering and so sad to observe, this too is only going to worsen. For reasons unknown to me the city is the darling of the media at the expense of all other northern towns, it’s definitely not somewhere I would choose to live.

By Honest John

I had the misfortune of being involved with this Minnow Films production in 2019 when working on a major new-build scheme on Oxford Road. I didn’t like the way that the film crew (actually nice people) were falsely portraying the project, in the sense that somebody that wasn’t involved in the project at all was placed on there and the filming centered on her. Anyway, it is what it is. Watch it and make your own mind up.

I took the opportunity to visit Minnow Films HQ in Shoreditch, London in November 2019 when I had a short spell working down there and voiced my disapproval and asked could the make sure I was not featured in any background shots. They were really nice about it but generally I thought that the portrayal of the project I was on (in Manchester) was not particularly accurate.

By North by North-West

Where is the real affordable housing,where real mancunians can afford to buy and rent.
Shame on the council and policy makers.

By Kojo

The tv programme was really good. The programme had the posh upper class woman from the countryside that wants to live in a big penthouse in the city centre with a million quid to spend and she had 250 pairs of shoes to the homeless people living in narrowgate nightshelter in Salford, who had nothing, no money, no home, just the clothes on there backs. The tv programme had the lovely single mother from Eccles(Salford) who wanted the best for her 2kids and was being evicted from her private rented house in Eccles(Salford) and she was bidding on Salford home search for local properties and she had to move into her mams for a few months, then Salford council got her a nice council flat in Eccles(Salford) and then she was happy … Also another point is I’ve got 2pairs of trainers I wear most days for work etc and I wear my best 2pairs of Ben Sherman shoes for when i take my missus out once a week for a nice meal, so I’ve got 4 pairs of footwear,. so why has the upper class rich woman on this programme got 250 pairs of shoes. Who needs all them shoes.. Seriously.

By Darren born bred.

Demand for inner city high-rise in Manchester will be limited by lack of decent schools in the central area.

The new shift to working from home will also play a part in longer term demand.

By Ningo

There could be a great episode about the Council’s insistence that only certain planning consultancies and architects get to work on major projects.

By Bert

It didn’t look great. For all of the blocks going up, generally the skyline shown had a real lack of visual interest simply because theres just so many monotonous cut and paste designs with little detail. What makes great and memorable skylines is the detail, being able to see architectural development through the decades. The masses are impressive, the bulk, but very little of it is pretty and all that interesting to look out upon. The old mill development had far more visual interest than most of the new builds shown. The Deansgate square towers look somewhat tombstone like. There needs to be something else other than the stack em up rack em in value engineered boxes that many of these new developments are.

By M2211

@Bilderburg Atendee you aren’t wrong, but all that says is that there needs to be a greater balance and distribution across all cities. As shown in the programme, if everything is centralised, and the property bubble in Manchester becomes somewhat London-like, that creates its own issues. Investment and opportunity needs to be distributed across Leeds, Newcastle, Chester, Liverpool and so on. Not all completely centralised. Spread the wealth and opportunity.

By CheshireWesty

I liked the lady from Eccles. A decent hardworking person with no bitterness, just wanting to do the best for her children. She epitomises how we have ignored the middle ground in this country. There is everything for those who are loaded and lots of help for those with nothing but those in between have nobody to speak for them. They don’t complain so they are ignored . They used to be called the respectable working class. Manchester is poorer for not celebrating that group today.

By Elephant

The programme was about city of Salford and Manchester.. No affordable housing or nothing for the homeless people.

By Darren born bred.

cant help but chuckle at the shoe lady looking for a million pound penthouse and it being sold on the back of ” look at the view – you can see the eithad …….

you cant sell that view !!

must have money to burn to want to buy a penthouse there

apartment living in the city centre i can see for young professionals but not for the people who have a million pounds plus to spend on a basic penthouse with “views”that are at best underwhelming

i just cannot see the point

By estate agent

Are the people from Manchester that can afford to live in these places not ‘real Mancunians’?

By Manc