Micklethorpe and the Micklethorpe Messenger newspaper were based heavily on Barnard Castle in County Durham and the Teesdale Mercury newspaper which is printed and published there. Writer Michael J. Bird was inspired to create the series after seeing a report about the Teesdale Mercury on the BBC magazine programme Nationwide (1969). Some events that happened in real life in Barnard Castle were used as the basis for events in The Outsider. Real editions of the Mercury, with just the masthead and a few lead stories altered, were seen on-screen as editions of the Micklethorpe Messenger. It was originally intended that location filming would take place in Barnard Castle and the Teesdale Mercury printworks, but in order to keep production costs down, Knaresborough and a printworks in Leeds were used instead because these were closer to Yorkshire Television's studios.