08 ATV Studios & Alpha Tower

ATV Studios (1969)

The former TV studios are soon to be demolished to make way for the £400m Arena Central development but during their active years they produced some memorable TV programmes. The news for Alpha Tower is looking far brighter as in February 2014 it was purchased by the Anglo Scandinavian Estates Group who now plan to invest £9m on a major refurbishment for the office block. In August 2014 the Alpha Tower office block was awarded Grade II listed status after an English Heritage recommendation.

Broad Street/Suffolk Street
Fantastic archive clip from ATV Today of the great John Swallow checking on the progress of the new studio complex

On the 1st January 1982 ATV became Central TV, here is the change over of regional idents

Princess Alexandra meets the Crossroads cast during the official studio opening on 19th March 1970

Princess Alexandra opens the ATV Broad Street studios and meets with the cast of Crossroads on March 19th 1970

More Information
Urbex Forums pictures of the derelict Central TV Broad Street studios
Crossroads Appreciation Society video of the sad looking studios after demolition had begun
ATVLand in Colour DVD from Mace Archive – Review at Cathode Ray Tube
ATV Studios in operation 19th March 1970 at MACE
TV Times from the last day of ATV before the launch of Central TV – Page 1Page 2

Crossroads (1969 – 1988)

ATV Studios, Broad Street
The episode that saw Meg (a sacked Noele Gordon) leave the motel just before i t was destroyed by fire. The fire scenes were shot out at an airfield where they reassembled the set and set it on fire.

A compilation of Crossroads clips from over the years show some of the memorable characters and moments from some of the 4,510 episodes

More Information
MACE video clip from ATV Today – Noele Gordon wins ITV personality of the year 1972
Episode 2247 – Part 1 & Part 2 – It’s New Year at Crossroads and Shughie plays the bagpipes. Also features Amy Turtle.
Crossroads archives available on DVD at Amazon

Bullseye (1981 – 1990)

ATV Studios, Broad Street
The opening titles of the original 1981 series of Bullseye on ATV

A series of talking heads and clips from a Bullseye TV Years tribute show on Sky One

More Information
A selection of former contestant photos from Bullseye filmed at the Birmingham Studios
Video clips of surely the worst ever Star Prize given away by Bullseye, the contestants faces say it all
Archive footage of Daphne Fowler, Eggheads,  appearing with her husband as a contestants on Bullseye

New Faces (1973 – 1978)

ATV Studios, Broad Street
Two musical successes from New Faces. First Showaddywaddy receive a silver disc, probably for “Hey Rock ‘n’ Roll”, from Noele Gordon and then Derek Hobson introduces Sweet Sensation, who had a number one hit in 1974 with “Sad Sweet Dreamer”

March 1976 All Winners show, featuring Jim Davidson. The opening credits show former winners Lenny Henry and Marti Caine

More Information
You Tube video (not great quality I’m afraid) of Lenny Henry’s first New Faces appearance, found in Bob Monkhouse’s basement collection of archived comedy footage.

Tiswas (1974 – 1982)

ATV Studios, Broad Street – Studio 3
Great opening to Tiswas as Chris Tarrant wakes up on a bench in Chamberlain Square and makes a quick journey to the studios

The Bucket of Water Song, showing how the Centenary Square area of Birmingham has changed over the years

Interesting background on the Phantom Plan Flinger, provided by Gordon Astley, that was recently broadcast on Free Radio Birmingham


More Information
Best of Tiswas DVD at Amazon
Tiswas Volume 2 DVD at Amazon 
One of the most memorable moments in Tiswas history, a young Matthew Butler sings Bright Eyes, dressed as a rabbit
Tiswas – Spot The Benny contest, between Paul Henry and Lenny Henry

You Tube collection of 4 videos – Best of Tiswas on YouTube

  • Part One features a song from Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog
  • Part Two features Sally James getting gunged
  • Part Three features Compost Corner, Algernon Razzmatazz and The Bucket of Water Song
  • Part Four features The Phantom Flan Flinger, The Dying Fly and Trevor McDoughnut meets Trevor McDonald

Other ATV/Central Shows filmed in Birmingham

  • ATV Today – Here John Swallow meets the Leamington Spa sound effect vicar
  • The Golden Shot – Bob Monkhouse hosts and Anne Aston is his glamorous assistant. The shot is controlled by Bernie the Bolt
  • Family Fortunes – Les Dennis hosts the family quiz show from the 1989 series
  • Blockbusters – The late Bob Holness hosted the only series to recorded on Broad Street
  • Spitting Image – This clip was recorded in the viewing theatre in the Broad Street studios
  • Central Weekend Live – A lively late night debate show. This episode comes from 1990 and talks about the redevelopment of the Bull Ring
  • Children’s ITV continuity – 1988 with Mark Grainger


On the June 16th tours @B12Simon mentioned a programme called Nightingales and the fact it featured Paradise Circus in it’s opening and closing credits. Of course, I came home and looked it up and discovered it was made by Alamo Productions and aired on Channel 4 between 1990 and 1993. There were two series and a Christmas special and a total of 13 episodes. The location of the office block was never referred to but the exterior shots in the opening and closing credits were the offices above Snobs Nightclub on Paradise Circus in Birmingham City Centre.

It starred Robert Lindsay (My Family & Citizen Smith), David Threlfall (Shameless) and James Ellis (Z-Cars) as three bored nightwatchmen working in a deserted office block.

Episode 1 of Series 1 can be seen in the clip below, and while the opening credits are dark you will make out the footbridge (now demolished) from Holliday Street across the A38 Suffolk Street Queensway and the Brunel Street (Red Caged) Car Park. I would imagine the only location for the camera was located high in Alpha Tower to achieve the panning shot across the A38.

  1. Take Me High – FREE Birmingham Screening | btvfloc
  2. Filming in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter | btvfloc
  3. Free preview screening of Citizen Khan in Birmingham | btvfloc

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