The former ATV Today presenter is the latest in a long line of celebrities to be added to Birmingham City’s ‘Walk Of Fame’. The current host of Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire? said his success is down to the ATV series Tiswas, which made him a household name back in the 1970s.
Chris said “I’m absolutely thrilled to be following in the footsteps of several great mates of mine from the Midlands, all of whom I have great respect for. Although I’m actually a Southerner, born and bred in Berkshire, I think I’ve become an honorary Brummie! I love the city and I’ve had a million laughs in Brum over many years. I was in University in Birmingham and then I’ll never forget that, for me, Birmingham was where it all started – firstly on ATV Today as a young, long-haired reporter and then of course on Tiswas. They are proud memories and I’ll always be in debt to the city and the people who gave me my first real break.”
Tarrant who has since his days at ATV hosted a number of programmes for both the BBC and ITV, received his his Walk of Stars award from Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Len Gregory on Thursday at a celebration in the city. A version is also placed in the pavement of Broad Street, one of the busiest roads in Birmingham – which was also the home of ATV’s Midland studios and the listed Alpha Tower, which ATV Network built as its ITV headquarters and continues to dominate the skyline…
Later, speaking to another Midland institution, the Express and Star Newspaper, he said: “Tiswas made me. It created everything that followed for the rest of my life… We had so many laughs and it was just an unbelievable time of my life.” Tiswas launched in 1974 and ran until 1982.
Today the ATV Centre studio complex, which was opened officially in March 1970 – but had been operating since mid-1969 – is in the process of being demolished to make way for a shopping mall. The building was used by ITV Central, ITN, SKY News and Carlton International in recent times but closed for business in 1997.
“I went back to ATV not long ago and it was quite sad,” he said. “It was an awful ghost town of a place. I remember it as a place heaving with kids, custard and live bands. We used to get an amazing line-up of musicians on there. It was just chaos and captured the imagination of an entire generation.” He told the newspaper.
Hailing from Reading, Chris was educated at The Kings School in Worcester and then studied English at the University of Birmingham. He later went on to work at ATV as a newsreader and reporter on ATV Today – the Midland ITV’s local news show.
Mike Olley, Broad Street Manager, said of Tarrant “We are delighted to welcome Chris Tarrant and honour him on the Broad Street Walk of Star’s. He’s a fantastically talented presenter who deserves a place amongst the other Midland greats that run along our Golden Mile”. He joins the likes of band UB40 and actor Martin Shaw on the walkway.
As well as presenting game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Chris is also currently narrating ITV series 30 Years Of An Audience With… and can be heard on BBC Radio 2. Tiswas also made television regulars of Lenny Henry and Bob Corolgees with Spit the Dog. The live Saturday morning show also had regular contributions from Sylvestre McCoy and Frank Carson.