Big Centre TV – five shows I’d love to see revived!

By Dave Massey @brumhour

Big Centre TV has the Local Television Licence for Birmingham and the Black Country which started on 28th February 2015.

Their first night saw classic Crossroads episodes on local TV for the first time in TWELVE years. Apart from local news, two series of Peaky Blinders, WPC56, and Doctors on the BBC, the West Midlands has been crying out for years for a larger voice on broadcast television.

Big Centre tv logo

The last big attempt for Birmingham based local TV was L!VE TV which ran until 1999, and was owned by Mirror Group Newspapers now Trinity Mirror owners of the Birmingham Post and Mail. This included London based inserts into Birmingham programming and added such quality gems as News Bunny, topless darts, and dwarves reading the weather on trampolines, to local news and steel drum features! I kid you not!

L!VE TV's News Bunny  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/newsnight25/4198637.stm
L!VE TV’s News Bunny
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/newsnight25/4198637.stm

Bringing more seasoned presenters such as Mike Prince, Bob Hall and “Diddy” David Hamilton back to local screens, and combining them with young media students from a Walsall College, might make it look a little rough around the edges, but this has a huge potential. The sound is a bit scratchy and there is some slightly crazy camera work, but these are early days. There will be no end of people wanting to show their skills and talent that do not fit ITV Central News or BBC Midlands Today’s remit.

We are however the YouTube generation, and the West Midlands is a particularly tech-savvy area. Big Centre TV will have to grab our attention by being unique and engaging. Of course its other market is nostalgia, and that is a huge area to tap into, and The Ads Show broadcast 1st March was a total gem of a programme delving into the UK ad archives like a visit to a media history museum!

ANYWAY. Here are the top five programmes I’d love to see revived:

1. Central Weekend Live. (1986)

Of course they would have to call it Big Centre TV Live, or something like that, or even Big Centre Weekend Live. Central Weekend Live was a BRILLIANT debate programme hosted by Nicky Campbell, Anna Soubry (Currently MP and a Minister of State for Defence), and many many others. It tackled the kind of issues that would set twitter on fire today. This is my favourite YouTube, talking about the Bullring being rebuilt. It includes the 1990s proposal to demolish Rotunda, that is now home to Staying Cool and turns 50 this year.

2. TISWAS Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile (1974)

For most kids Saturday was TISWAS Day, however I was only permitted to watch Multi-coloured Swap-Shop on BBCOne. Maybe my folks couldn’t cope with the “anarchy” of custard pie throwing! It featured Chris Tarrant, Sally James and Lenny Henry.

3. All Clued Up (1988)

According to Wikipedia All Clued Up was based on The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime and featured Big Centre TV’s very own David Hamilton. It was a game show broadcast on Sunday afternoons, and featured married couples competing to solve word puzzle. I’ve cheated a little here as it was actually made by TVS (who also made the UK Version of Fraggle Rock!)

4. New Faces (1973) and (1986)

Hosted by the late Marti Caine, New Faces second revival came to Birmingham Hippodrome from 1986-1988, and used the scoreboard known as Spaghetti Junction. Showcasing talent from across the country, it helped make Joe Pasquale a household name. Of course we have Britain’s Got Talent today, but there’s always room for local people to do very silly things on tv.

Check out the 80s perms on the ladies and gents below from a 1987 results section of New Faces!

5. What’s your Story? (1988)

This was Choose Your Own Adventure on TV. Children would be able to submit ideas by TELEPHONE for the next episode, and they would be made for the next day! Filmed in the once iconic and now demolished BBC Pebble Mill, Birmingham, and hosted by 80s Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy, this was a great way of creating interactive television!

You can find Big Centre TV on Freeview Channel 8 or watch it live online! It’s probably playing Men’s Crown green bowling now, but be thankful it’s not Darts played on Roller Skates or something!

Thanks to Mark Wilson for refreshing my memory on L!VE TV!

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