Archive for January, 2014

The Game – 1970s Spy Drama filmed in Birmingham

What’s it About?

Created by Being Human writer Toby Whithouse ‘The Game’ is a tense Cold War spy thriller set in London in 1972. MI5 learn of Operation Glass, the codename of a Soviet plot, from a defecting KGB agent and set up a team to investigate. Each episode will investigate a different Soviet agent as they try to understand the details of Operation Glass.

Who’s in it?

The Game stars Tom Hughes (Dancing On The Edge) as interrogator Joe Lambe, Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy) as MI5 head ‘Daddy’, Paul Ritter (Quantum Of Solace) as Bobby Waterhouse the head of counter-espionage, Shaun Dooley (Misfits) as Special Branch detective Jim Fenchurch, Chloe Pirrie (Black Mirror) as secretary Wendy Straw, Victoria Hamilton (Toast) as Sarah Montag, the deputy to Bobby Waterhouse and Jonathan Aris (Sherlock) as Alan Montag, husband of Sarah and a bugging expert.

A number of the cast have previously filmed in Birmingham before with Tom Hughes filming scenes at the Council House and the Grand Hotel on Colmore Row for Dancing on the Edge. Victoria Hamilton starred as a young Nigel Slater’s Mom in scenes at the former Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street and also at the Grand Hotel for Toast. While Shaun Dooley guest starred in Hustle (S07E06) as Cool Hand Cooper and filmed scenes outside the Weslyan Building at Colmore Circus, inside the safe deposit room of the Birmingham Municipal Bank and in Commercial Street at the rear of The Cube.

Where’s it been filmed?

Newhall Street: Bomb blast injured are lead away by the police
Image Copyright: Roger Marks

The show has been filmed almost exclusively in Birmingham and the surrounding area, but for a few days the cast and crew moved to Wales and a spent a week in London.

The Game filming on Newhall Street

Newhall Street: Bomb blast victims stuck under the rubble are checked over by the production team.
Image Copyright:
Roger Marks

Birmingham Central Library provided the location for the 1970s MI5 headquarters and the production has also been seen at the Centenary Lounge in Moor Street Station, Moseley Road Baths, Central Fire Station at Lancaster Circus, Merevale Hall in Atherstone and The Old Rep Theatre in Station Street.

There have also been key scenes at Fletcher’s Walk, Reddings Road in Moseley, a big stunt scene on Newhall Street (see below), a scene on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal under the Snow Hill railway arch off Livery Street and a scene at a restaurant off Corporation Street. Filming also took place inside a building on Waterloo Street where I had a brief conversation with Tom Hughes while he waited to be called for his scene.

They have also used the open spaces of Cannon Hill Park and the Lickey Hills (doubling as Hamstead Heath) as well as the industrial area of the canal network in Smethwick.

When’s it on TV?

The Game wrapped the week before Christmas but as yet there are currently no published dates for the release of The Game, however it is expected to air in the first half of 2014.

Filming Location Images

While Doctor Who has his trademark blue TARDIS it seems that The Game are favouring the UK red K8 telephone kiosk as looking through the collection of images gathered from many sources it does seem to features heavily in a large number of the scenes.

Reddings Road Moseley: Shaun Dooley (Jim Fenchurch) completed scenes at this property in Moseley back in September 2013. This house features in Episode 3.
Image Copyright: Birmingham Evening Mail

TheGame_CornwallStreet

Cornwall Street: A pleasant August evening was transformed into a rain soaked street with three large water jets firing water high into the air. This scene features in Episode 2.
Image Copyright: Sparks68

Newhall Street Location Shoot

A video shot on Newhall Street on 27th October 2013 featuring a London Transport bus and a large crane camera. At 3:57 into the clip you will see Tom Hughes run into the scene from the right and slip on the pavement. He recovers well and there is no major harm done, I just hope he managed to stay on his feet for the actual take. Video by Paul Donovan (You Tube)

Newhall Street Filming Stills

A set of images taken on 3rd November 2013 while The Game were filming on Newhall Street in Birmingham. Click on any image to open a slideshow of all images.

Filming locations used by The Game featured in the Birmingham TV Locations walking tours in 2014.

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WPC 56 Series Two – Repeats Monday 2nd March 2015

The hugely successful BBC drama WPC 56 returned to daytime TV on Monday 23rd February 2015 with a repeat of series one (originally broadcast 2013). These five episodes are quickly followed by a repeat of series two from Monday 2nd March 2015 on BBC1 (originally broadcast 2014).

So what can we expect from WPC Gina Dawson and her colleagues at Brinford station in series two? We have a healthy mix of truancy, prostitution, murder, forgery and bribery giving us a daring mixture of gritty storylines for a daytime show. Here’s a detailed look at what’s in store;

New characters

Joining Gina Dawson (Jennie Jacques)  and Sergeant Fenton (Charlie De’ath) from series one at Brinford station are;

PC Tommy Perkins (former Halesowen College student Liam Jeavons), Sgt. John Swift (James Barriscale – The Bill, Silent Witness), DI Max Harper (Ben Turner – Casualty) and new secretary Susie Nightingale (Rachel Leskovac – Coronation Street, Last Tango in Halifax, Shameless)

Series Two Episode Summaries

Episode 1 (Cry Cry Cry) sees WPC Dawson and her colleagues deal with the arrival of a funfair owner Brendan McCormack’s (Francis Magee – Game of Thrones, Eastenders) travelling fair and a feud over a teenage runaway. Sgt Fenton and DI Harper clash over the discovery of the body of a married councillor at the flat of Rebecca Jones (Jessica Duncan).

Episode 2 (Dead Man Dancing) introduces a young truant, Lizzy Maddock (Harmonie Lloyd), and her local boxing champion dad, Mike Maddock (Nigel Travis – Coronation Street, Peaky Blinders, Mrs Biggs, Nowhere Boy) who finds Gina’s interfering most unwelcome. Mike’s comeback is threatened when he is ordered to throw the fight. Gina goes undercover at the Sapphire Club, managed by Chris Hutton (Danny Szam), as part of the murder case.

Episode 3 (The Eye of the Storm) leads DI Harper and PC Perkins to the elusive Rebecca, who has been beaten while being held captive at a brothel by Lenny Powell (Michael Higgs), but she won’t talk. At the Sapphire Club, Gina is enjoying her undercover role as Ruby Clarke but finds she is growing fond of manager Chris and a murder turns Sgt. Fenton’s world upside down.

Episode 4 (That Old Devil Called Love) sees Lenny arrested and under suspicion of murder. Sgt. Fenton’s deceit is discovered and even his evidence against Lenny may not be enough to save him. Lenny’s escapes when his prison transport is ambushed giving him the opportunity to reveal the true identity of Ruby Clarke.

Episode 5 (The Harder They Fall) finds Sgt. Fenton discovering a local forger is making a fake passport for Lenny, but he is shocked when he sees who turns up to collect it. A shot is fired during a struggle with a suspect and WPC Dawson is shocked to find that she is the one under investigation. Can Gina clear her name as the series reaches its thrilling conclusion? 

Series Two Locations

A great deal of series two was filmed at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley (as were a number of scenes in series one) as it makes a perfect film set for a period drama. The production returned to Margaret Street in Birmingham city centre to film the exterior of Brinford station at the Birmingham & Midland Institute and the interior scenes were filmed in an old factory building in Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter.

The brothel scenes were filmed at Bearwood Corks Club, Bearwood Road, Smethwick and other scenes were shot in Edgbaston and Barnt Green.

If you missed series one then make sure you catch up on BBC iPlayer before you catch series two next week. As Daniel Brocklebank (who plays Carl Saunders) confirms below it’s great pretending to be back in the 1950s and WPC56 will take you there each day at 2.15pm.

The WPC 56 Cast on Twitter

A large number of the WPC 56 cast are on Twitter,

Welcome back Brinford and here’s hoping that series two expands the fantastic viewing figures from the first series (22% share of audience) and we get a further series of adventures with WPC Gina Dawson.

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Filming in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

One part of Birmingham that is not featured on the walking tour is the famous Jewellery Quarter, but not because there is nothing to see there.  In all honesty I’ve considered extending the tour to take in a few Jewellery Quarter locations but they are a little too far away from the highlights of the main tour route to cover them in the same day without doubling the length and duration of the tour.

I’ve been tweeted twice today about possible filming sightings in the Jewellery Quarter so I’ve decided to create a section on this site to cover the main locations and the shows that used them.

UPDATE: Quarter Life Magazine, Volume 3 features some of the locations listed below and gives this site and me a lovely contributor credit too.

I’ll list the shows in order and the locations they used (to my knowledge anyway) to give you an idea of how popular a location the Jewellery Quarter is with TV and film makers.

Gangsters (BBC) – 1976

Now disused toilets at the end of Warstone Lane

Now disused toilets at the end of Warstone Lane

After a successful outing in the Play for Today series in 1975 Gangsters was commissioned for a six part series by the BBC.

The opening scene of Incident One (they didn’t use the term episodes) starts with Khan (Ahmed Khalil) racing into New Spring Street and chasing the lead character John Kline (Maurice Colbourne) across Icknield Street where he seeks refuge in the gentlemen’s toilet block at the junction of Warstone Lane and Carver Street. Khan enters the Ladies toilet while Kline makes his escape on a number 90 bus.

A large amount of the BBC Pebble Mill series was shot on Broad Street and the Gas Street areas of the city and the opening credits show John Kline running through a section of the then new Queensway tunnel. The cliffhanger ending of Incident Two, filmed at the old Snow Hill Station, features at the start of the walking tour.

Survivors (BBC) – 2010

After a successful first series filmed in Manchester, series two of Survivors relocated to Birmingham and the majority of first two episodes were filmed in the city centre.

There was a scene in episode two where an ambush took place underneath a railway bridge. It was filmed under the railway bridge where Henrietta Street crosses Livery Street with the main view looking down towards St Paul’s Square.

The major scene in Birmingham was shot during a Sunday morning around the Edmund Street and Newhall Street area, where tonnes of ‘clean’ litter was scattered on the streets where Tom (Max Beesley) lead the search for Abby (Julie Graham). Also seen on screen were Baskerville House, the former Birmingham Municipal Bank and the former ATV/Central TV Studios, all located in the Broad Street area of the city.

WPC 56 (BBC) – 2013

Set in the 1956 this daytime drama from the same BBC Drama Village team that produce Doctors tells the story of WPC Gina Dawson (Jennie Jacques) and her struggles in being the first female police officer in the fictional Brinford suburb of Birmingham. Series one aired in March 2013 and series two, completed in late 2013, is due on screen in February 2014.

The Jewellery Quarter lends itself well to period drama and the programme makers used a number of locations in the area for the first series.

  • In episode one Gina goes off in search of a missing dog and finds him in the ‘Raven Arms’ pub. The Raven Arms is a fictional pub located in the Alabaster & Wilson building at 9-11 Legge Lane.
  • The interior scenes of Brinford Police Station were filming at 55-57 Vittoria Street. The production also returned to this location for series two.
  • In episode four Gina and Sgt Fenton (Charles De’Ath) seek a Teddy Boy at Salvatore Gentlemen’s Hairdressing. The location of the barber shop is on the corner of Vittoria Street and Regent Place.

The series also filmed at The Electric Cinema in Station Street and the Victoria Law Courts on Corporation Street. The Birmingham & Midland Institute on Margaret Street provided the location for the exterior of Brinford station.

Line of Duty (BBC) – 2012

Line of Duty: BBC TV Episode two stunt on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal

A five part BBC2 series featuring the investigations into the TO-20 squad, led by Tony Gates (Lennie James) by AC-12, a police anti-corruption unit. The series was set in an unnamed British city and was careful not to implicate any particular police force due to the police corruption storyline. The characters of Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) have returned for series two, which is due to air in January 2014, however they have not returned to Birmingham for their locations, choosing Belfast instead.

The AC-12 and TO-20 choice of drinking establishment for series one was the Queens Arms on Newhall Street with many scenes being set in the bar.

In episode two a daring stunt was filmed in the Jewellery Quarter. A wanted man is seen escaping from the police by leaping from the fifth floor of an apartment block on Fleet Street onto the Birmingham & Fazeley canal towpath. You could even catch a brief sight of the spire of St Paul’s church as the man prepared to jump.

There were also brief scenes filmed on Ludgate Hill, Lionel Street and Newhall Street all within the Jewellery Quarter.

The offices of AC-12 were filmed at Millennium Point and the TO-12 base was created at the former Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street. The producers also made use of the old fire station at Lancaster Circus for one of the key scenes from the series, where DS Arnott was tortured, a scene which attracted the attention of Ofcom following a viewer complaint about the use of a 13 year old actor in a scene featuring such violence and sexually explicit language.

By Any Means (BBC) – 2013

A new BBC series from Hustle creator Tony Jordan follows a gang, pulled together by Helen Barlow (Gina McKee), who exist in the shadows between law and justice. The gang is led by Jack Quinn (Warren Brown) and each episode sees the team take on a new target in an attempt to finally bring them to justice.

Throughout the series the gang are seen entering a ‘secret’ den location where they have access to a wide range of facilities to assist with their operation. The interior of the ‘office’ was filmed at The Bond, Fazeley St, Digbeth but the exterior scenes were filmed right on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter. The gang were seen entering the base via one of two entrances;

  1. Underneath the railway arch of the Birmingham & Fazeley canal on Livery Street, near Water Street
  2. Beneath the railway bridge over Water Street

By Any Means – BBC TV Jack and Helen meet in St Paul’s Churchyard to discuss the next target

In episode two Jack gets his ‘mission’ instructions from Helen in the churchyard of St Paul’s Church in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter.

In episode six the gang tackle Jamie Caine (Nick Moran) a vicious criminal who handily has an apartment base right opposite their base (although I don’t think we were supposed to notice that).

The production also used Apsley House on Waterloo Street as a double for the exterior of the Columbian Embassy and the churchyard of St Philips Cathedral on Colmore Row for another exchange of target information between Jack and Helen.

There was hope that By Any Means would return for a second series but recent reports suggest that may now be unlikely, which is a shame.

and finally…..

Hustle (BBC) – 2010 to 2012

By the time Hustle moved it’s production to Birmingham they already had created five series and 30 episodes of the adventures of the team of confidence tricksters lead by Mickey Bricks (Adrian Lester) but they went on to make a further three series in Birmingham before they finally closed the show.

Hustle filmed in a large number of city centre and outlying locations over their three years in the city, below are a selection of the locations used in the Jewellery Quarter.

Series Six (2010)

Episode Two – Water Street – A flashback scene where Ash (Robert Glenister) recalled his first meeting with Liability Finch (Mark Benton)
Episode Six – Ludgate Hill – Sean (Matt Di Angelo) collects a fake ID from an address next to the Actress & Bishop

Series Seven (2011)

Episode One – St Paul’s Square – Emma (Kelly Adams) emerges from an entrance next to the Rectory Bar wearing a stunning red dress
Episode Four – Holland Street – The gang’s mark visits the Silver Street Gym
Episode Six – St Paul’s Square – Albert (Robert Vaughn) and his ex-wife Susan (Hannah Gordon) catch up on old times in the churchyard

Series Eight (2012)

The Jewellery Quarter was used extensively in Series Eight probably due to the Eddie’s bar set being in the same area.  The final ever Hustle scene was also shot in the area.

Episode One

  • Newhall Hill – Dexter Gold (Paterson Joseph) meets his gang at The Vaults.
  • Frederick Street – Office Space above Ladbrokes was the set for the offices of Gold Hard Cash. Also the car park behind Lois Jewellery was used in this episode for an exchange of cash.
  • St Paul’s Square – Sean (Matt Di Angelo) shares a bench with the assistant of Mr Gold for lunch in the churchyard. A cameo appearance from former Liverpool and Wales striker Ian Rush was also filmed in the churchyard.
  • Mary Ann Street – The Brook Welding Company stood in for the Gold Bar Forgers Factory.

Episode Two

  • Warstone Lane – The art studio of forger Dolly (Sheila Hancock) was situated behind Stirlings on Warstone Lane.

Episode Three

  • Livery Street – Subway City was the location for the opening club scene where Mickey as Le Jean (Adrian Lester) was the big name DJ.

Episode Four

  • Number 39, Henrietta Street is where Ash (Robert Glenister) and Mickey (Adrian Lester) go to meet Freddy the Face.
  • Offices of Deliqua Dining and Act Management Solutions, 67-71 Northwood Street, Birmingham is where Mickey meets the slimming pill makers the Devilles (John Barrowman & Raquel Cassidy)
  • Urban Coffee Company, The Big Peg, Warstone Lane – Sean (Matt Di Angelo) obtains the receipt he’ll later drop in the gallery.

Episode Six

  • St Paul’s Place, St Paul’s Square – Emma (Kelly Adams) enters the building using the stolen ID,
  • Camden Street – Location of the Stock Exchange cable hack for the con on Madani Wasem (Abhin Galeya),
  • A E Harris Factory, Northwood Street – The final ever Hustle scene is shot in the yard of the A E Harris Factory, Northwood Street, as the reunited ‘Magnificent Seven’ drive away in a convertible.

The final Hustle scene as the ‘Magnificent Seven’ drive away into the sunset.
Location: A E Harris Factory, Northwood Street

2014

There are two series that are yet to air that were filmed in Birmingham last 2013. The second series of WPC 56 has already been mentioned above, but also look out for a 1970s spy drama from the BBC called The Game. I’m not sure if they filmed in the Jewellery Quarter but I’d be very surprised if they didn’t take advantage of the older architecture for this period drama.

Locations Mapped

I’ve also created a Google Map with all the locations on so you can view them at a glance.

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Kinsey 1990 – 1991 (BBC)

During some additional research for the Birmingham filming locations walking tours I’ve discovered a BBC drama from the early 1990s called Kinsey.

I’m currently building up some facts about the show and have so far found the following;

Neil Kinsey (Leigh Lawson, who’d married Twiggy a few years before filming started) was a maverick Midlands lawyer and the series covers his unconventional approach to dealing with his cases. His partner is Tricia Mabbott (Serena Gordon) but he also has to contend with his estranged wife Judy (Marian McLoughlin).

The series also featured Midlands actors Meera Syal and Mark Williams and a young Minnie Driver also made an appearance. According to the TX card on the Pebble Mill Studios website, Robert Glenister (Ash in Hustle) also made an appearance.

The six part series (series one) aired on Tuesday evenings from April 2nd to May 7th 1991.

TV Supporting Artiste Bobby Civil made an appearance in the show, filmed on 27th October 1990 and he provides further series information on the link and confirms that the Corporation Street Law Courts were one Birmingham location used in the series.

The Pebble Mill Studios archive has a number of posts and images from the production of the series.

The series writer Peter Gibbs has confirmed that the Grand Hotel and Wilkes’ Solicitors on Church Street were both used for filming locations in the city centre, but Kinsey office scenes in series one were filmed at a decommissioned hospital in Redditch.

There are just two clips online and they are both in the form of BBC evening entertainment trailers. The trailer for series one is particularly poor quality, however, the other one, from series two, is shown below.

I’m currently progressing a number of lines of enquiry to see if copies of series one or two are available and I will update the page with any new information as it becomes available.

Does anyone remember the programme? If so please let me know if you have any additional information about it.

UPDATE: Series One, Episode One

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Brassed Off – 1996

Brassed Off. The interior of the Royal Albert Hall scenes were shot at Birmingham Town Hall in Victoria Square.
Image Source: British Film Locations Website

Released in 1996 this story of the Grimley Colliery Brass band and their struggles against the Conservative Government’s policy of pit closures was filmed mainly in South Yorkshire, but when the band win through the finals of the national brass band competition they head off to the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The movie starred a number of big name UK actors including Ewan McGregor, Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Tompkinson and Sue Johnston.

Filming the competition in a major London venue obviously proved too costly or logistically difficult so they used the Birmingham Town Hall, Victoria Square, as an interior ‘double’ of the Royal Albert Hall.

In a memorable scene the band win the competition with a blistering rendition of the William Tell Overture before Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) makes an heart-felt and emotional speech about the closure program ruining industry and lives and refuses to accept the trophy.

An supporting artiste on the day of filming, 30th November 1995, has posted a two part blog about the experience.  Bobby Civil was in the audience listening to the Grimley Colliery Band but also was asked to play one of the competition judges. You can see Bobby in clip of the Pete Postlethwaite speech link above, the middle of three judges standing behind the trophy table.

Brassed Off – Part One – Bobby Civil’s Blog

Brassed Off – Part Two – Bobby Civil’s Blog

Added Trivia

So inspirational was that Pete Postlethwaite speech recorded in Birmingham Town Hall on a cold November day that it was used in the intro of the 1997 UK no. 2 hit Tubthumping by Chumbawumba.

“Truth is, I thought it mattered; I thought that music mattered. But does it bollocks! Not compared to how people matter.”

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TV Tours Feature in Birmingham Mail

On January 10th 2014 The Birmingham Evening Mail online published their Top 5 Birmingham locations used in TV

They were;

  1. Hustle – Houghton Auctioneers: School of Art Margaret Street
  2. Line of Duty – Canal Jump Stunt, Fleet Street
  3. Brassed Off – Birmingham Town Hall, Victoria Square
  4. WPC56 – Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street
  5. Survivors – Birmingham Municipal Bank, Broad Street

Have a look through the list of locations index on the site and see if you can spot your own favourites

New tour dates will be announced Spring 2014

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