After 22 years at The Mailbox, the BBC’s Midlands base will fully switch to a new home in Digbeth by 2026.
The BBC will relocate to a new purpose-built broadcast centre at the former Typhoo Factory site in the city. The broadcaster says the new centre will cost less to run than The Mailbox site and support the delivery of the corporation’s net zero commitments.
It’s part of a BBC scheme to increase investment outside of London. Birmingham was once the base for many of the BBC’s most popular programmes, from Pebble Mill at One to Top Gear.
Following its departure from Pebble Mill in 2004, after 33 years, the BBC was accused of ignoring the region. Most programme making was moved elsewhere.
In recent years that has begun to change, with BBC Three gaining a base in the city. In 2021, the BBC confirmed it was moving Newsbeat and other departments to the city, when it first revealed it was planning to bring all of its Birmingham-based operations under one roof.
Digbeth Loc Studios, the future home of the BBC’s flagship food entertainment strand MasterChef, will be adjacent to the BBC’s new home.
The BBC moved to The Mailbox in 2004 with great fanfare. Originally 600 staff worked at the site, which was meant to be more accessible to licence-fee payers. The One Show was first piloted at the site in 2006, broadcasting from above the main newsroom, overlooking the canal side. It was later decided to move the programme to London.
Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, says:
“This is another important day for the region. We said we would do more in the Midlands and we’re delivering. The new broadcast centre in Digbeth will give our teams the best facilities and technology to serve audiences for decades to come.
“Moving our Birmingham headquarters to Digbeth is going to help build the creative success of the region – drawing new investment and production to the Midlands – and sits at the heart of the BBC’s Across The UK plans to deliver significant increases in editorial spend and decision-making outside London.
“This decision is one of a number of exciting announcements which strengthen our commitment to the region, including the relocation of programmes like MasterChef and Newsbeat.”
[Image: Artist’s impression of the new Digbeth site / BBC]