As those with a good memory will recall, ITV’s output in the Midlands was once provided by ATV (Associated Television Ltd) from 1956 until 1982 when the franchise was won by the, some may argue (well, me), somewhat dismal Central Independent Television. To cement it’s base as ITV’s regional broadcaster for the Midlands (the company itself based in Elstree, London), and to avail itself of the coming of colour television, in 1969 ATV commissioned the construction of a purpose built studio complex on Broad Street in central Birmingham, promoted as “Britain’s first purpose built colour TV studio”.
ATV Centre produced many ITV classics over the years, not least children’s TV favourite Tiswas which was broadcast live from studio 3, and the long-running butt of many a joke; Crossroads! So entrenched was ATV in the region it also built the adjacent Alpha Tower as its Birmigham headquarters in 1973 which was linked to ATV Centre via a raised walkway.
With a shift in emphasis to location broadcasting, IBA-upheld criticism of a somewhat West Midlands focus in programming (largely ignoring the East of the region) leading to new studios being acquired in Nottingham along with Central’s stewardship axing many of the long-standing productions that were filmed there, ATV Centre’s activities began to shrink.
The view at the top of this page shows what was the studio’s canteen but by the early 1990s several of the studios had been mothballed and part of the building used as the Coast-to-Coast nightclub and Hudson Bay bar which occuppied the ground floor.
The studios were finally closed in 1997 with the majority of the complex lying dormant until 2009/10 when demolition work got underway, clearing the site for the forthcoming £400m Arena Central development which sees to develop the 7.6-acre site which includes the studios into offices, shops and restaurants (well, we certainly need more of them!).