This is me standing alongside the last ‘RCR whiteboard’ in Television Centre. This is where the Team Leader in charge of allocating the news stories fills in who’s cutting what & where for the One, Six and Ten bulletins.
I’ve filled in that board many times myself, but last night it was Herbie’s privelage to be in the hotseat for that historic Ten O’Clock News. I was there cutting the final TV Centre ’60 seconds’ bulletins for BBC Three, which is oddly symetrical, as I also cut the very first.
The Dream Factory is now a ghost town, but the spirit’s still there. Everywhere I walked last night there were smiling souls just looking and laughing, whether they’d worked there days or years. Television Centre can do that to you.
Here’s a video lovingly crafted over the weekend by just a few of the creative staff who needed to express their love (note the missing signage in the corridors. Everyone’s been taking their little bit of TV history home, and who can blame them?)
When I was a kid, TV Centre’s postcode – W12 8QT – was more familiar than my own. It was where the magic was made: Swap Shop, Dad’s Army, Morecambe & Wise, Record Breakers, Blue Peter, Top of the Pops – anything worth watching in the 70′s & 80′s was made more or less right where I’m standing, and I really loved that sense of living history when I first came to work here a dozen years ago.
Even now, on Comic Relief and Children in Need nights - or even during a Strictly run - you can still feel like you’re at the exact focal point for millions of eyes. It’s what makes TV Centre unique. It’s part of the romantic spark that connects the building and its staff, and no volume of sheet glass & steel can replace it.
TVC, however, has been missing some TLC for years. As a HD-ready state-of-the-art production centre it’s about as effective as your local Sainsbury’s and about as oderous as your nearest carpet warehouse firesale. The glittering future city of New Broadcasting House has been a shocking sink hole for the corporation’s cash since its conception, and poor old TVC has consequently been starved of investment for years – a rank Miss Haversham to NBH’s glowing Jennifer Lawrence, if you will – and that is a shame, but, whoever’s fault it may be, TVC isn’t the building she was in more ways than one.
In a dissolute world where an iPhone can be all the OB unit you need and where anyone can shoot/edit anywhere, that special postcode suddenly means nothing. People can complain about the building being left to rot as much as they like, and if I was having to weave through superstars to get to my cab every night I’d agree with them, but I’m not. This isn’t 1970. The stars have moved on, and so should we.
Ten days ago I had a beard – a lawless bush of wiry silver that curled up under my jaw like some reptilian ruff. I thought it made me look vaguely noble, and there was something oddly appealing about finding odd bits of chocolate cake in it toward the end of the day. At lights out I could trap it under my quilt and be suddenly hit by the stench of all London in my facial fuzz, and I thought all that was somehow worthwhile, but I was wrong. Yes, it could be interesting and look ancient but, ultimately, it stank.
Bye Bye Television Centre. We loved you. Here’s a fitting tribute from my masterful colleague, Anthony Shelmerdine: