Birmingham on TV: Introduction

This is the introduction to a series of posts about TV programmes related in some way to my home city of Birmingham. Truthfully it's a bit of an easy ride because we have had several TV studios here as well as several shows using the city for scenery or set here, so I'm going to pick my favourites and share my idiosyncratic impression on them as always.

The name Birmingham comes from the Old English Beorma-Ingas-Ham, the home of the tribe of Beorma. Well, Beorma is the current academic favourite for the name of the notional founder, but beyond an Anglo-Saxon tribe settling here around the sixth century, it isn't known whether Beorma came here, or even existed. That said there has been human settlement since about 8000 BCE and there was a first century Roman fort here. In the Domesday book it had nine households. Peter de Bermingham obtained a charter to hold a market in 1166, but the market town remained a small Warwickshire town. And then came the Industrial Revolution. The town's population in 1720 was 11 - 12,000, and by the end of the century had risen to 73,000. Its central position in the country and diversification of industries (it is known as the city of a thousand trades) means that it has never had the grinding poverty of areas dependent on one industry. Things created or discovered in Birmingham include: the steam engine, the start of the factory system, the lead chamber process, the whistle, the pacemaker, X-rays, roller skate wheels, the predecessor of the photocopier, the smoke detector, the mass spectrometer, and finally heavy metal music.

There is a slight difficulty for locals with the depiction of the city in the media and elsewhere for a number of reasons. A major one is that southerners think it's in the north and northerners think it's in the south. That it isn't in either seems to present them with problems. Additionally if you're not from here you have difficulty distinguishing the proper Birmingham accent from the nearby Black Country one. The Black Country one is a closer descendant of Anglo-Saxon, but Birmingham is the result of being a melting pot of people from the whole country and indeed the world. I actually don't recommend any of the Birmingham accent videos on youtube, instead here you get the real thing so meet Jess Phillips MP:

And meet local historian Carl Chinn:

You won't be getting Peaky Blinders I'm afraid because i've never got on well with it. That said there is a clip which is about as Birmingham as you could ever want and because it's got bare bottoms and rude words I've put it on a separate page if you want to see it, here.

Finally, if anyone could doubt Birmingham's impact on television, if you were in the UK and since 1964 you have learned the recorder, the violin, damnit even if you learned the triangle this is what you played. Youtube is still full of people playing the Crossroads theme and it hasn't been on for years:

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