Opportunity knocks as Susan Boyle's brother follows TV dream
HIS sister famously shot to fame after a reality TV show audition that captured the imagination of millions around the world.
• Gerry Boyle, brother of Britain's Got Talent sensation Susan, in Edinburgh's St Andrews Square. He has plans to develop an entertainment production complex near Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Now Gerry Boyle has unveiled plans to follow in his famous sibling Susan's footsteps by making his own name in showbusiness – with a huge television studio and concert arena near Edinburgh Airport.
He hopes to transform an empty unit in an industrial estate into a major new entertainment complex from which new game shows, talent competitions and celebrity concerts would be broadcast around the world.
The 55-year-old businessman, who plans to launch a host of new concepts next year, is planning to launch a new internet TV station from the Newbridge Industrial Estate.
Under his plans, which he has already discussed with city council officials, an empty storage facility will be transformed into a 10,000-capacity arena.
Mr Boyle has yet to secure any commercial backers or planning permission for the project, but insisted it would not need any major investment to get off the ground.
He told The Scotsman he was already in talks with TV production companies in the United States and said he was hoping to take advantage of "huge opportunities" which had opened up following his sister's global success.
Mr Boyle, who numbers veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost and TV mogul Simon Cowell among his business contacts, launched his "Instant World" concept – which involves everything from motor insurance and banking to property development and fashion – earlier this year in the wake of his sister's overnight success on Britain's Got Talent.
His "business in a box" venture will see would-be entrepreneurs pay a fee in return for office space, a website, an accountant and call centre facilities. However, he admitted the business had yet to generate money as he was still putting "infrastructure" in place.
Mr Boyle has enjoyed a high media profile since his sister's first appearance on Britain's Got Talent in April, effectively becoming her spokesman as she struggled to cope with the impact of fame.
Despite coming second on the hit programme, the former church helper has found herself in huge demand and a hastily released debut album went straight to No 1 in the charts.
The 48-year-old, from Blackburn, in West Lothian, has appeared on some of America's top-rated TV shows.
Her older brother has had his share of the limelight thanks to appearances on news broadcasts around the world and he has already staged early auditions to find new acts for his fledgling record label.
The businessman, who lives in Musselburgh, East Lothian with his wife and son, has been spending the last few months pursuing the plans for his own studio concept.
Mr Boyle is planning to give newly discovered acts their first chance of exposure through his online TV station, which he hopes to launch within the next few months.
Mr Boyle, whose track record in business has been mainly in sales and marketing, said: "The studio project is just one of several concepts I will be launching next year, but is very much a goer.
"I've already identified a site and I'm working with a property developer over a 60,000 sq ft unit in Newbridge, which is ideally placed with its close proximity to Edinburgh Airport.
"The idea is to produce our own television programmes for the on-line channel but also rent it out to other companies to bring in their own productions.
"This particular unit has been lying empty for some time, but it wouldn't need a huge amount of work done to it. You would bring in a lot of equipment for each production depending on the nature of the TV show or concert.
"The main thing is getting permission from the council to have something like this going on there as it is only available for industrial uses at the moment."
Mr Boyle said he was hoping that some of the biggest names in music would be lured to Newbridge for specially created productions, citing Neil Diamond and Shirley Bassey as being at the top of his wish-list.
He also envisages a planned caf-bar at the site becoming a major attraction in its own right under plans to create dozens of celebrity lookalike waxworks for visitors to have their pictures taken next to.
Mr Boyle added: "I do believe this is a genuine proposition. I have made a number of great contacts over the last few months thanks to Susan's success and there is a lot of interest in what I'm proposing.
"I don't think I'm trying to cash in on her success at all but it would be daft to ignore the kind of opportunities that are coming up at the moment. Nothing like this exists in Scotland at the moment."
Mr Boyle has been in talks over his studio complex venture for months with property developer Derek Tyson, whose Dundee-based firm St Andrews Estates bought the site for 2 million last year.
Mr Tyson said: "It would basically be the kind of studio facility that already exists in the likes of Yorkshire and Manchester.
"We've already spent 500,000 refurbishing the unit, which was previously only used for storage purposes, so it would just be a case of putting in some basic infrastructure."
Edinburgh City Council confirmed it had been approached by Mr Boyle and that he had met officials to discuss his plans. He has been asked for detailed plans for the site.
Mr Boyle will be hoping his powers of persuasion are more successful than those of Sir Sean Connery, whose dream of creating a film studio at Hermiston Gate fell through nine years ago after years of planning wrangles. The complex was expected to cost up to 90m and create 1,400 jobs for the capital.
Tom Buchanan, Edinburgh's economic development leader, said: "Mr Boyle has been in to see some of our senior officials, but I cannot say much more than that, other than that we are obviously keen to encourage any potential opportunities that come up."
• Susan Boyle relaxing with Gerry two weeks ago
GERRY Boyle's vision of a new indoor arena capable of housing TV productions and major concerts is the latest in a long line of ideas for an entertainment venue which have emerged in Scotland's capital in recent years.
Civic leaders have long wanted the city to compete better with the likes of Aberdeen and Glasgow for major touring artists and one-off events.
The capital misses out on concerts by the likes of Kylie Minogue, U2, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen with Edinburgh Castle esplanade the only major venue used by promoters. Work started last week on new stands due to be used for the first time in 2011.
The last showpiece event in Edinburgh was arguably the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2003 although Murrayfield Stadium played host to a huge concert in the run-up to the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles.
West Edinburgh is one of the strong favourites to host a new arena, with the operators of the Royal Highland Showground planning a new 10,000-capacity complex.
Edinburgh's waterfront, which hosted the MTV bash, is seen as the favourite location for an arena. It was identified in a study commissioned by the city council as the best location for a new medium-sized venue, though detailed plans are yet to get off the ground, mainly because of the economic downturn.
Concert promoters are divided on whether there is enough demand for an arena.
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