Lights go out for good at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios

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The Independent Online

An era in the history of the BBC is to end this spring when Pebble Mill, the corporation's TV and radio studios in Birmingham, closes.

The studios, in the leafy suburbs of Britain's second biggest city, pioneered the expansion of daytime television, with shows such as Pebble Mill at One and Good Morning with Anne and Nick. The Archers, Radio 4's long-running saga of farming folk, is still recorded there.

In about eight weeks' time, production will switch to new studios at The Mailbox, an upmarket shopping complex in central Birmingham also home to Armani and Harvey Nichols. The cast of The Archers may find it harder to imagine the village of Ambridge after they abandon the green environs of Pebble Mill for their new base in what was once the largest postal sorting office in Europe. Pebble Mill, which opened in 1971, is expected to be converted into a business park.

Nick Owen, who made 600 programmes of the Good Morning breakfast show with Anne Diamond, described Pebble Mill as "a really exciting place to work".

Owen, who is still working at the studios as a presenter of the news programme Midlands Today, said: "The name Pebble Mill is synonymous with television throughout the country. I will be very sad to leave."

The complex was home to some of the BBC's most famous drama series including All Creatures Great and Small, Howard's Way and Poldark.

Christopher Timothy, who starred as vet James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small, has worked at the studios for three decades. "Up until quite recently, Pebble Mill was the most famous television centre in the whole country. People knew Television Centre from shows like Blue Peter and The Goodies but whenever a show was from Birmingham it would always be captioned 'BBC Pebble Mill'," he said.

Timothy, who is still working at the studios directing the drama Doctors, in which he also plays Dr Brendan "Mac" McGuire, said it was important that the facilities were not taken to BBC locations in the capital. "Everything in this country must not revert to London," he said.

Pebble Mill takes its name from one of 50 water mills that were used to power Birmingham's industries.

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