News Column

And the award for best actor goes to... Birmingham ; SHOWBIZ: MORE CREDITS FOR CITY AFTER LANDINGA STARRING ROLE IN NEW BBC TELEVISION DRAMAS [Birmingham Mail (UK)]

August 26, 2013


IT'S famously known as the city of a thousand trades - including acting.

Because Birmingham has been the setting for dozens of memorable TV programmes over the decades, from Doctors and Angels to Boon and Crossroads.

Now the city is to 'star' in two new major BBC shows.

Crews are finishing work on the BBC1 crime drama By Any Means, to be screened in November.

A building in Waterloo Street was turned into a fictional Colombian Embassy for the show, with South American flags flying proudly outside.

Scenes were also filmed at the city's magistrates court, Hotel La Tour and the Hyatt, while outside locations included New Street, the Mailbox and Cannon Hill and Sutton Parks.

Producer Tim Key said: "London is increasingly hard to shoot in, so we felt we'd get much more for our money elsewhere. I've shot in Liverpool and Manchester, but as I'm from Bewdley, I thought of Birmingham." Gangster drama Peaky Blinders, set in the lawless streets of post-war Brum, is also heading to BBC2 this autumn with scenes shot in and around the city.

Meanwhile, filming is also in progress on a second series of Father Brown and discussions are under way for another run of WPC 56.

It tells the story of a female police officer based at a Birmingham station in the 1950s. The first BBC series filmed at locations including the Black Country Living Museum, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham Town Hall, the Jewellery Quarter, Victoria Law Courts and the Electric cinema.

Daniel (and Jimmi Morgan) It stars Coventry-born Jennie Jacques in the lead role, alongside Brummie actor John Light, as Chief Inspector Roger Nelson, and Cannock actor Chris Overton as PC Eddie Coulson.

Today, the BBC retains a healthy presence in the city despite closing its factual programme-making unit at its Mailbox HQ in 2012.

Shows including Gardeners' World, Countryfile, The Sky at Night, Points of View, Coast and Hairy Bikers were once produced at the Mailbox.

Despite that decision the garden used for Gardeners' World is still in the Midlands. Once set in Edgbaston, the programme is now presented from Monty Don's garden in Herefordshire.

And in Selly Oak, the BBC Drama Village is home to BBC1 soap Doctors - as well as many one-off dramas and series including smash hit Land Girls.


CROSSROADS: The much-mocked soap opera set in a fictional motel near Birmingham originally ran between 1964 and 1988, making stars of its cast including Noele Gordon, Jane Rossington and Ronald Allen. The series was later revived in a glossier version by Carlton Television in 2001, but was again cancelled in 2003.

POT BLACK: The snooker show, which helped make stars of players like Alex Higgins and Ray Reardon, was originally made in Birmingham in 1969 before moving to Blackpool, London and eventually Sheffield.

TISWAS: Broadcast from Studio 3 at the ATV Centre in Birmingham between 1974 and 1982, the groundbreaking kids' show was presented by Chris Tarrant and Sally James - with regular appearances by the Phantom Flan Flinger.

GANGSTERS, 1975 to 1978: Created by Philip Martin, and produced at Pebble Mill, the show began life as an edition of Play for Today, followed by two series transmitted in 1976 and 1978. Set in the multi-cultural community of Birmingham, the programme has remained a cult favourite.

TOP GEAR: The BBC2 car show has become a worldwide hit, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. But the first edition was aired on April 22, 1977 - with Angela Rippon and then Midlands Today newsreader Tom Coyne as hosts.

EMPIRE ROAD, 1978 to 1979: A pioneering BBC2 programme, with a predominantly black and Asian cast. Written by Michael Abbensetts, the show ran for two seasons of eight episodes each.

ROSIE AND JIM: Ragdoll Productions used a Birmingham narrowboat as the setting for the children's TV show, filming the puppets on local waterways from 1990 until 2000. The Stratfordbased production company was also behind children's series Brum, about the adventures of a half-scale replica car that came to life and set off to explore "the Big Town".

NEW FACES: The talent show was recorded at the ATV Centre in Birmingham during the 1970s. One of the winners, Marti Caine, went on to host a revived version filmed at the Birmingham Hippodrome, which discovered a young Dudley-born comedian... Lenny Henry.

KINSEY, 1991 to 1992: A BBC1 drama about a maverick Midlands lawyer, played by Leigh Lawson. Kinsey was said to bring ''an unconventional approach to dealing with his clients' cases, but has to contend with his estranged wife Judy and his rivals".

DALZIEL AND PASCOE: The 1996 BBC1 fictional drama about two Yorkshire police officers, was produced by BBC Birmingham and used a number of locations in the area. The show starred Warren Clarke as Dalziel and Colin Buchanan as Pascoe.

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