Birmingham Television

ATV Centre Television Studios – Broad Street

ATV Centre Television Studios

ATV Centre Television Studios

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!).

Discussion

One comment for “ATV Centre Television Studios – Broad Street”

  1. Birmingham City Council have completely lost the plot. When we had three TV studios producing productions Birmingham was everyone’s TV screens. Now they have lost everything except “The Archers” Birmingham and the West Midlands have vanished from the cultural map. The Councillors were exceedingly foolish to waste a very useful resource to more boring flats restaurants and shops. We need a media presence like major companies need to keep reminding the public about their goods and services, we need a TV presence to promote the Midlands. The Council should have used these studios as a base for a Birmingham digital channel. London and Salford will win and Birmingham will keep losing investment,jobs and prestige if the region does not wake-up to the threat of becoming “invisible” in the media.

    Posted by John West | August 13, 2010, 5:50 pm

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