Television and the Midlands
There have been many television series based in the midlands. The characters that the region produces is perfect for the screen and many a midlands character has found their fame on television.
One of the first soaps to appear on British Television was Crossroads which started in 1964 and ran until 1988. It was set in a fictional motel in the midlands and at one time its viewing figures reached 15 million for each episode. The story line was bared around two feuding sisters and their battle for power over the motel. The series was midland based, but many star performers appeared in it, such as Jane Asher, Noele Gordon and Kate O’Mara. The series attempted to return in 2001 but after 2 years of low ratings its final show was broadcast in March 2003. One of the current most popular television programs being aired currently is “Peaky Blinders”. First broadcasted in 2013, there are now plans for a fifth series to be shown in 2019. The show has produced many star performers such as Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory. The plot depicts the gangsters that used to control the Birmingham area in the 1920s. After winning the 2018 Best Drama Series award at the BAFTAs, the show’s creator Steven Knight stated that it was his wish to create a series about Birmingham life between the two world wars. It was quite ironic that the majority of the series was filmed in Yorkshire.
Another show that has received wide acclaim has been Citizen Khan. Set in East Birmingham the show is a sit com about a Birmingham resident of Pakistani descent. He is a Muslim and is very much proud to be British, so it is a very modern program. The show has lasted through 5 series and has been a great success. The difficulty has been to create story lines that make Mr Khan comical without mocking the Muslim religion. However, the sensitivity of the writers, and the production team, has ensured that there have been no major issues so far with the series. Another popular comedy that is set in the West Midlands region is “Keeping up Appearance”. The actual town that has been created is Fuddleton which is fictional but there are several references in the show to the West Midlands area. The whole theme of the show is how the star Hyacinth Bucket is trying to climb the social ladder in life and is constantly trying to separate from her working class background. The pictures of her middle class house in Binley Woods in Warwickshire contrast starkly with the council home of her sister in Stoke Aldermoor in Coventry. The show aired for five series and many of the popular episodes revolved around the interaction between Hyacinth and her brother in law Onslow. The husband of Hyacinth’s sister, Daisy, is bone idle and his broad West Midland accent contrasts beautifully with the snobbish pure English accent that Hyacinth is constantly trying to perfect. The West Midland accent has been used in many comedy moments. The series of Auf Wiedersehen Pet was set in Germany, but the performance of Timothy Spall as a Black Country electrician brought him great acclaim. It also helped him to start a career that has resulted in great success.