On a recent trip to Birmingham, I paid a visit to a very important place. The place that was once known as “ATVLand”, the home of so much of the UK’s most-loved TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s, not to mention the most wonderful ident ever seen on a TV screen.
ATVLand gave us such classics as TISWAS:
The legendary game show Bullseye:
And the soap opera Crossroads – a show so iconic its closing theme was once covered by a Beatle:
The ATV network, run by the legendary Lew Grade, played a major role in what shaped popular culture in the latter half of the 20th century. As a child of the 70s, I was thrilled to have a chance to see the building in which all these great shows, and so many more, were made. Sadly, there’s not a lot of it left.
Much of the centre was demolished to remove asbestos. These hexagonal windows peeking above the protective fencing are all that remain. It’s a shame. ATVLand is just one of the things that makes Birmingham such a vibrant city. It’s something that should be treasured, not demolished or hidden away.
The good people at MACE (Media Archive for Central England) agree that ATV’s history is something to be celebrated and have created a five-part documentary called From ATVLand in Colour, featuring interviews with a many of the network’s famous faces including Chris Tarrant, who most people know from “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. I bought this DVD shortly before our trip to Birmingham and it made this drab, boarded up, abandoned building next door to the Holiday Inn come alive with memories. If it hadn’t been for the rain I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if we had been set upon by the Phantom Flan Flinger.