December last year, I took a family trip to BBC Broadcasting House in London (We were originally going to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, although the theatre roof fell in the day before). It’s building which, to me, is like Mecca. I just had to visit at some point in my life. With at least 7 national radio stations, BBC World Service Radio, various BBC News shows and The One Show all broadcasting from the same building, its ridiculous the amount that’s being broadcast all at the same time, under one roof. Here’s some photos and a little bit of what I learnt…
The original Broadcasting House was built in 1932 in an art deco design. The various new extensions have opened in the 21st century, linking the renovated, original building with the new ‘John Peel Wing’. There are many pieces of art included on the buildings. In the photo above, this includes the controversial Ariel and Prospero statue and an exact copy of an original AM radio mast at the top.
The Media Cafe, which has been built along one side the newsroom, allowing the public to see right into ‘their’ BBC, also features a BBC show and is the meeting point for the tours and shows in the Radio Theatre. From here, you receive your pass and start the tour with some information about broadcasting and the building. The whole tour group stands around a massive screen, watching an introduction to the corporation and seeing into the various studios thanks to a live webcam (which felt like a slight cop-out instead of taking groups down to unused studios). The first stop was a look into the impressive newsroom. It’s the largest newsroom of its type in the world and holds hundreds of journalists. Tours stand on the balcony above the main studio looking into the newsroom (on the right in the photos above). Your not allowed to take photos on this side but they explained how it’s set out. The tables on the left side cover national news with the right side covering international. Each desk has a different purpose with the mirrored desk doing the same job for their area (If that makes any sense at all) e.g. BBC.co.uk/news covers local news with the same desk on the opposite side doing bbc.com/news (If that makes any more sense)
Next stop…Be the next Huw Edwards…
After watching other people in the group (I do production for a reason) present a news bulletin and weather, it was across the older section of the building. In here, various elements have been restored and protected as part of the restoration of the building. The original reception and various rooms are still in tact. This area also displays some original equipment from vintage BBC Radio studios.
The next and final stage of the tour was a trip down to the BBC Radio Theatre. One of the most famous rooms in the original building. Various famous singers and artists have performed in this room along with a large selection of live radio shows along with recorded comedy shows, like ‘Just A Minute’ along with hundreds of pilots which may or may not have made it to air on both TV and Radio.
That’s pretty much it. The tour, (available for £13.50 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/bh_london.shtml) is great for seeing inside the BBC, something that pretty much everyone owns in some form. One thing…for a nosey media student like me, you don’t see enough 😦