The Midlands

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    "Northampton, Northampton, Northampton, Middle of England!"
    Linda Jardim, "Energy in Northampton"

    The Midlands is between Oop North and London. Home to Brummies. NOT the domain of the Mother Confessor. (and especially not that Mother Confessor!)

    It broadly corresponds to the old Kingdom of Mercia (the dialect which influenced Tolkien) and is split by the UK government into the West Midlands and East Midlands.

    Somewhat deprived in places, the area includes Nottingham, which is the English equivalent of Brooklyn. This area currently has a rather bad reputation for gun crime. Unfortunately, it kind of deserves it.

    The Midlands are noted for having a larger than usual percentage of ethnic minorities (particularly Birmingham and Leicester), though this applies mostly to inner city areas and is rarely the case in rural regions.

    Midlanders are often thought of as being stupid, possibly due to most accents being non-rhotic with vowels so sloppy that they can successfully drag on any nearby consonants too. This results in the Midlands Drawl, which involves saying as much as you can as slowly as you can. The Black Country accent makes people assume 'thickie' whereas a Staffordshire accent is more generic. An East Midlands accent actually sounds much like Oop North to the untrained ear.

    By a quirk of geography, the Midlands are actually slanted so the north west of England is further south than the center of the East Midlands.

    Examples of The Midlands include:

    Comic Books


    • Dead Man's Shoes is filmed and set in Matlock in Derbyshire.
      • All of Shane Meadows' films are filmed and set in the East Midlands, typically Nottinghamshire. Including, unsurprisingly, 'Once Upon A Time In The Midlands'.
    • A film version of Stig of the Dump was filmed in and around the Derby area, which is in the Midlands.


    An immigrant, a black man and a homosexual walk into a bar in the Midlands and order a drink.
    "Doesn't anybody make jokes about minorities here?" the immigrant asks the barkeeper.
    "Well, you are in the Midlands," says the barkeeper, "But if you insist... An Englishman, an Englishman and an Englishman walk into a bar..."

    • "There's a reason it doesn't rain so much in the Midlands. The floods won't get out of the way."


    • Nottingham of course gives us one of fiction's most famous bad guys, the Sheriff of Nottingham. The title wasn't created until 1449, long after the start of the Robin Hood story but it still exists and was recently (relatively speaking) held by a woman, Jeannie Packer (who referenced Robin Hood on her biography page).
      • Her successor doesn't, but the page describing the office of the Sheriff of Nottingham does briefly mention its role in the legend of Robin Hood.
    • In The Third World War, Birmingham gets nuked.
    • Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mystery series is based in Shropshire (with occasional forays into Wales).
    • One or two vermin in the Redwall series have a noticeable Brummie Funetik Aksent, as opposed to the usual generic low-class thug or Talk Like a Pirate vermin dialects.
    • Adrian Mole is from Leicester, and the books largely take place in various towns in the Midlands.
    • J.R.R. Tolkien stated that in The Lord of the Rings, he based the Shire (and the Hobbit society there) on his childhood home in Birmingham.
      • An amusing side result of this is that "Gamgees" is actually a colloquial term in Birmingham for "cotton bandages" i.e. gauze, because a local cotton company was run by a family named "Gamgee". Tolkien wasn't aware of the reason, he just remembered it as a term from his childhood and then assigned as the character Sam's surname, sort of like "Sam Gauze" (he's this good natured guy who helps out people who are in trouble, sort of like bandages). This even extends to the point that Sam's wife Rosie's surname is "Cotton". Much to Tolkien's surprise, a few years after The Lord of the Rings was published, he received a letter from a real-life man whose actual name was "Sam Gamgee". Tolkien wrote him back explaining he never realized "Gamgee" was a real-life surname, he thought it was just a local word from his childhood in the Midlands, though Sam was quite a heroic character so he didn't think it would be too embarrassing. For a while afterwards, Tolkien had the slight fear that one day he'd get a letter from some poor fellow actually named "S. Gollum" as "that would have been more difficult to deal with"
      • Of course, what the film version controversially omitted for time was one of Tolkien's major points in the book: when the Hobbits return to the Shire after the war, they find that the Industrial Revolution has swept through it, factories have sprouted up everywhere, and all the forests have been cut down. The Shire was taken over by Frodo's evil cousin Lotho using hired mercenaries, and they quickly set about trying to industrialize everything for profit...or to make it a world power...or something. Tolkien usually strongly argued against any allegorical readings of his work (even really strong reflections about the Great War which are kind of obvious), but on this one point, he openly admitted that "the Scouring of the Shire" was his commentary on what happened to the Midlands in the 20th century. Tolkien grew up in the Midlands around the turn of the century, which it was this bucolic Shire-like lush green fairy-tale-perfect place, then he left to fight in the horror of World War I, all but one of his close personal friends were killed in action, and when he returned home to Birmingham, the whole place had industrialized, factories were everywhere and choking it with pollution, and the Midlands he grew up in were utterly swept aside. "Mordor" for Tolkien (more probably "Isengard was, in many ways, urban sprawl.
        • It is soon revealed that Lotho's rise was funded by Saruman, who later arrives and directly takes control, at which point all pretense to "productivity" is abandoned and the mercenaries just start randomly burning forests, polluting rivers for no real purpose, etc. Saruman had no real goal other than *petty revenge on some country farmers who are three and a half feet tall* (how the mighty have fallen...) -- so its sort of implied by Tolkien that there could *be* no rational reason for what had happened to the Midlands, the actual underlying reason for all of this industrialization was for the *sole* purpose of polluting the countryside out of existence out of spite!
    • Tom Brown's Schooldays is set in Rugby School (where the sport was also born, at least according to the popular legend), and the quasi-spinoff Flashman stars a character from the book.

    Live Action TV

    • Richard Hammond of Top Gear, who is constantly cast as a sort of country bumpkin by co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson for that very reason.
      • Constantly joked about during the tractor challenge, culminating in Hammond attempting to herd sheep in the background while Clarkson and James May talk.
    • Timothy Spall is famous for portraying TV Brummies, despite not actually being from Birmingham. It started with Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and just sort of snowballed.
    • Crossroads: three different versions of a Soap Opera set in a Midlands motel/hotel.
    • The Archers is set in a (fictional) West Midlands county called Borsetshire. (Then why do they all have Dorset accents?)

    Web Comics

    Real Life

    • Ozzy Osbourne
    • Lenny Henry
    • Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Alan Moore are both natives of the Midlands county of Northamptonshire. Also Raging Speedhorn, but we try not to talk about that too loudly.
    • East Midlands Airport has been renamed multiple times because almost no one from outside Britain has heard of the East Midlands. They tried to get it renamed to Nottingham Airport at one point, because more people have heard of this, but as the airport actually isn't in Nottingham at all, or even Nottinghamshire, this raised objections from the other two cities the airport serves, Leicester and Derby.
      • Also there already is a Nottingham Airport, but it's tiny and nobody has heard of it at all. Not even people in Nottingham.
    • Comedian Jasper Carrott, noted for his Brummie accent and routines about supporting the mostly hopeless Birmingham City FC. He also had a routine about being the most average man in Britain:

    "Have you ever stopped to think about how ordinary you are? I have. I'm so's extraordinary. I'm middle-aged, middle-class, and I live in The Midlands, in the middle of England. In fact I live bang slap in the middle of The Midlands in the middle of England. I drive on the middle lane of the motorway while listening to some middle-of-the-road music (usually Bette Midler) and when I get to work I feel like I'm stuck in the Middle Ages! I went to the doctor, he said 'you're having a midlife crisis'. I gave him the middle finger!"

    • All the members of the psychedelic rock band Traffic were from the West Midlands.
    • Formula One champion Nigel Mansell sounds unmistakably like a midlander. As noted on the trope page fellow brummie Jasper Carrott made fun of his lack of personality: "Potentially, he is the most exciting man on the Earth..." (beat) "... until he speaks".
    • Richard Armitage was born and raised in Leicester.
    • The Stamper Brothers, who founded a company called Ashby Computers and Graphics (literally in the middle of the country - Ashby is about a mile off being the most central point in the UK) which after a period as Ultimate Play the Game, changed its name to Rare, creators of Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark. They're still in the Midlands, but now based in Twycross.
    • John Deacon of Queen was also born and raised in Leicester.
    • The city of Coventry historically has been the "Motor City" of Britain, headquarters to many automobile companies, most notably Jaguar.
    • Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, was born in Coventry.
    • Robert Plant, singer of Led Zeppelin
    • John Bonham, drummer of Led Zeppelin