If you were shopping around for locations for a Yorkshire-based crime drama, the big city of Brum wouldn’t immediately come to mind. Tons of traffic, tall concrete towers, and big department stores don’t exactly scream “quiet, scenic northern town”. But when the BBC were on the hunt for filming spots for Dalziel and Pascoe in the 90s, this is where they landed. The two detectives served the fictional town of Wetherton – where murder and foul play were seemingly around every leafy corner. Through the magic of television, creative camera angles and many hours in the cutting room, busy Birmingham and the Black Country became the sleepy North. Viewers in Brum will still have had their “Hang on, isn’t that…?” moments, though.
The show featured Warren Clarke as the old-school cop Andy Dalziel, and the nicer, well-mannered Colin Buchanan played Peter Pascoe. Together they solved crime – but not without getting on each others’ wick a bit. The Internet Movie Database, or IMDb, shows us where the cast and crew were throughout the run of the show. Winson Green’s City Hospital mortuary and Solihull Hospital crop up a lot, as the TV victims are searched for valuable clues by the pair of detectives.
The University of Birmingham starts to star in the second episode, with the older buildings being useful stand-ins for more traditional sites up north. The Moorland Court flats in Edgbaston turn up in the third series – entirely unexpected places can be turned into film sets! The Moseley Road Baths, the Fox Hollies pub in Acocks Green, and the Rowheath Pavilion community centre in Bournville all popped up too. Imagine being booted out from your afternoon pint and seeing people off the telly walk in! Dudley Zoo serves as the scene of a grisly murder involving a victim found in a tiger cage in series 9. The ICC and Symphony Hall crop up in a episode from 2002.
Over in the Black Country, Walsall’s Town Hall has served as Wetherton’s police station and town hall through the years. The St. Matthew’s Hall pub appears in the very first episode, as the pair of detectives use a side-entrance to their station. A short trip down the A45 to Coventry brings you to the Wetherton Wanderers football ground. This high-flying team, mysteriously struck down in a train crash, played at Highfield Road – Coventry City’s old stadium. And finally, in the last series, Saltley’s Mainstream Way and signs for West Bromwich and the Jewellery Quarter can be seen hanging in the background of a two-part episode. No computer-generated touch-ups here!
The show wasn’t wholly shot in Birmingham, of course. There’s no way we’d get those shots of northern beach vistas, country homes and dense woodland in the middle of a Balsall Heath or Newtown. There were real Yorkshire locations too, along with plenty of Cambridgeshire for the leafiest scenes. But Brum played its part in one of Britain’s proper primetime dramas of the last 30 years.