BBC Television Centre

I was saddened to read today that the BBC’s iconic Television Centre has been sold to a property developer. This most likely means this magical site will be stripped of all its sparkle and soul and become another grey homage to the 1%. But I’m not writing this post to rant – and trust me I could until the cows come home. What I want to do here is share the fabulous experience I had there on a studio tour a couple of years ago.

Memories of the Tour

I wonder where this little beauty will end up?

  • Turning a corner and nearly walking into a TARDIS.
  • Arriving in the legendary reception area and completely ignoring the tour guide because Sherlock was on one of the screens.
  • But still managing to learn the fantastic fact that TV Centre is in the shape of a question mark.
  • Navigating the corridors. Back then my mobility was pretty dire, so while everyone else got their daily exercise by climbing stairs, a very kindly staff member escorted me to the lifts.
  • Seeing how a weather forecast was done. The room those folks had to work in was tiny.
  • The ‘frozen in time’ luxury dressing rooms with pony hair walls. Which makes perfect sense now I’ve seen Get Him To The Greek (Search for "Get Him To The Greek" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US) – they were obviously there in case the A-list inhabitant had been slipped a jeffrey.
  • Learning that Lady Gaga keeps all her wigs in a fridge.
  • Looking out into a studio and seeing all the lights. You could feel the history and magic. Well, you could until the tour guide said they were filming Alan Titchmarsh’s chat show that day.
  • The fountain in the central courtyard. I swear you could hear the ghostly echoes of tap dancing.
  • All the staff there were so kind and seemed to really appreciate their amazing place of work.
  • Watching my friends become newsreaders and game show contestants.
  • Spending the rest of the day sporting my BBC lanyard, so strangers might thing I work there.

That was the magic of TV Centre. Just being there was like being in the centre of showbiz. It’s a great, great shame that we’re going to lose such an amazing part of our culture. It would have been nice to see it preserved as some sort of museum/attraction to show off the best of British TV, but it looks like it’s going to suffer the same fate as the old ATV Centre in Birmingham, living on only in the memories of those who were lucky enough to have been there.

W12 8QT won’t be anywhere near as iconic a postcode when it’s for investment bankers and insurance firms.

Many thanks to Garry for the use of his photos.