Birmingham Drama Village to continue with soap opera Doctors for at least a further two years, while Father Brown and The Coroner will have new series produced at the Midlands production centre.
“It has been a fantastic year for original British drama in BBC Daytime and our main supplier has been the Drama Village in Birmingham. New series, The Coroner, was extremely well received and we will return to South Devon to investigate more unexplained deaths this autumn. Period drama, Father Brown, goes from strength to strength and continues to be the most popular drama series on daytime television following its fourth series this January, I look forward to series five early next year. – Dan McGolpin, Controller BBC Daytime
The Coroner will return with a ten-part series that will start shooting in and around South Devon later this year. The investigative crime series which stars Claire Goose, premiered on BBC One in autumn 2015 with a consolidated series average of 1.7m viewers. The latest version of Father Brown, which has been sold to 162 territories by BBC Worldwide, will continue on BBC One for a fifth year, airing on BBC One in 2017. Series four, which aired in January 2016 had a consolidated series average of 2.1m viewers.
“I’m also delighted to recommission our daily weekday drama Doctors for another two years. The series is in fine form, having just celebrated its 3,000th episode with an hour-long special in September and they have recently filmed five episodes inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets as part of the BBC Shakespeare Festival, to air from 18 to 22 April. BBC One offers the audience a greater range of daytime television genres than anyone else and is the only channel to invest in original daytime drama.” – – Dan McGolpin, Controller BBC Daytime
Doctors, which is set in a busy Midlands practice, follows the turbulent lives and loves of the staff and patients. The series which is produced by BBC Birmingham Drama Village has been recommissioned for a further two years.
Local West Midlands newspaper the Birmingham Mail has been leading a campaign for more programming to be produced in the city, noting that while 5.6 million people live in the West Midlands, the midland region raises more than £942 million in licence fees for the beeb, but according to the newspaper only around £80 million was spent on programming from the region. Since the closure of the Pebble Mill studios on the outskirts of the city in 2004 little in the way of primetime programming has been made in Birmingham. In the past programmes such as motoring show Top Gear, quiz show Telly Addicts, drama All Creatures Great and Small and sitcom 2.4 Children were produced from the Edgbaston Studios.
Daytime was also at one time Birmingham’s remit with the daytime continuity ‘The Morning on 1’ broadcasting on BBC One from the city. Programmes such as magazine show Good Morning, segment Quiz Call and chat show Pebble Mill all came from the West Midlands BBC centre.
Since 2004 production has been centred in the city centre at ‘The Mailbox’. However significant cuts were made in 2012, when the factual unit was relocated to Bristol. Meaning the production hub for shows such as The Hairy Bikers and Countryfile left Birmingham. Radio 2 also closed its studio at the centre, where programmes such as Janice Long originated from. The only major radio production still in the city is Radio 4 serial The Archers.
“I’m really proud that BBC Birmingham’s Drama Village output continues to make a real mark on television drama. It’s a testament to the talent that we have here in the Midlands, both on and off screen.” – Joe Godwin, Director of BBC Birmingham