Pre-Pebble Mill buildings – Gosta Green – Dave Kirkwood

Gosta Green

Gosta Green. This was the main TV drama studio in Aston. It was sited just behind the original Aston University building. The impressive front facade reflected its former life as a bank. Behind it the area used for the studio floor reflected its later life as a cinema. The frontage was still there when I last looked (about 10 years ago) but the studio area had been demolished to lawns.

There are pictures of Carpenter Road and Gosta Green at in ‘Early History’ section. There were other addresses such as in George Road, Berkeley Street.

The BBC in the 60’s was a very different place to work than today. There was a ‘family’ feel to the place and a vibrant social life built around the staff club.

Dave Kirkwood

Pre-Pebble Mill buildings – Broad Street – Dave Kirkwood

BBC Broad Street. This building stood near the canal next door to Gas Street on the Mailbox side of the road. The ground floor was used by a variety of retail outlets. There was one unit on the ground floor, which was used as a BBC Club Bar. TV switching was at the back on the Ground Floor, but unseen from the road. Upstairs on floor one you found the sound control room, telecine, film editing and sound recording suites. In 1965, when I first arrived, there was also a tiny TV studio from which ‘Midlands Today’ was broadcast, but this was soon replaced by a modern studio on the first floor, which also handled other programmes such as ‘Farming’ and programmes for the immigrant community. (Not PC today I know, but that was how they were known then). Also on this floor was the film processing lab, a radio drama studio (for ‘The Archers’) and production offices for ‘Midlands Today’.

Dave Kirkwood

Gail Herbert adds the following comment: I thought the building had been knocked down and the Hyatt built in its place. There is a plaque I believe on the Hyatt Broad Street side saying this.  The staff used to use the Crown as the unofficial club.

Pre-Pebble Mill buildings in Birmingham – Carpenter Rd – Dave Kirkwood

In Birmingham in the mid 60’s the BBC had offices and studios scattered
across the city including:

Carpenter Road, Edgbaston was the HQ for the region. The site for the building is now a housing estate. In the grounds you also found the Film Unit and the Outside Broadcast Garage.

In the 60’s the Midlands Region operated two TV OB Units and associated communications vehicles, and three radio OB units.

Further down the road there was a former church (cannot find the name of it)
which was the base for the ‘Midlands Light Orchestra’. See for detailed history.

Dave Kirkwood

Radio Birmingham producer and presenter, Pete Simpkin remembers the Church Studio, ‘I am certain it became the home of Zella Records under the ownership of Johnny Haynes and gave many local groups the chance to get on disc. I produced a Malc Stent Album there in the 80s.’

Memories of working at the BBC – Dave Kirkwood

Dave Kirkwood














I joined the BBC in 1965 and trained as a ‘technical operator’. In the
regions, TOs were expected to work in both TV and Radio. Normal jobs for a
TO were operating cameras and sound equipment in TV studios and sound
recording suites for radio as well as the sound control room. Radio Studios
were the province of a different breed called ‘studio managers’. These were,
in the main, graduates whereas the majority of the TOs were recruited from
schools after A Levels.
I spent most of my time working on camera crews in Gosta Green and Broad
Street. As a trainee I was only allowed to operate a camera in Broad Street
and for simpler programmes at Gosta Green, but I often drove the ‘Heron’
camera crane used on most of the dramas at Gosta Green. By 1968 it was becoming clear
that the TO role was a bit of a ‘dead end’ and that those senior to me were
not much older, so I was encouraged to look for other opportunities. I was
keen to explore production and broadcasting rather than engineering (TOs
were very much ‘engineers’ in the eyes of personnel). Local radio was just
starting, so I managed to transfer into that as a station assistant and
(after just two years) was promoted to producer. I stayed in local radio
until I left the BBC in 1996 from the post of ‘Senior Broadcast Journalist’.
Along the way I had spells as a Continuity Announcer at TV Centre and as a
trainer at the Local Radio Training Unit.

Dave Kirkwood

‘United’, a soap from Gosta Green – Dave Kirkwood

Copyright resides with the original holder.

This photo from the 1960s, shows a group of technical operators ‘relaxing’ on the set
of another soap produced at Gosta Green. This was called ‘United’ and was about life in a fictional football club. It was a total flop and hardly mentioned in BBC drama history at all.

Gosta Green  (Gosta Green was the BBC studio in Birmingham before the building of Pebble Mill) did a lot of drama, but also general work – Percy Thrower’s gardening programmes and music items for the fledgling immigrants’ programmes among them.

Dave Kirkwood