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TVC The Final Tour Ten Years On

22 February 2013 was a memorable afternon.  It was the day of the final public tour of perhaps the most iconic and recognisable TV studios building in the world.

Home to thousands of hours of TV over more than 60 years, BBC Television Centre in West London was destined to close and be turned into a hotel and apartments.  I had booked myself on what was at the time the final public tour of the building, although they did add an extra tour afterwards due to demand!

I had been on one tour previously during which the rule was strictly no photography or recording, but I took along my microphone anyway on the chance that I might be able to grab an interview with someone.  You never knew who you might bump in to at this famous building.

When I got there, the first person I met was actually someone I knew.  Martin Parsons was the tour guide for the final CBBC tour of the building.  Martin was a former member of HRB!

I joined up with the tour that I had booked on where I found that someone had got permission to film it and two media study students had got permission to record it.  The rule about photography seemed to have been well and truly dropped that afternoon.  The tour guides Adrian Lacey and Mark Hemmings took us nto the Media Centre (newsroom) to start off with, and then on to the viewing gallery of TC3 where an edition of Gory Games was being filmed.

We went to TC5 where some of the Match of the Day/BBC Sport set were remaining and then to the scenery store where the Blue Peter set was stil in storage.  We saw a dressing room and also took part in a quiz.  I did rather well at knowing my TV themes!  We stopped at the Stage Door entrance where so many stars had entered the building including Richard Briars who had died just that week.  Filming had just wrapped for the 50th anniversary Doctor Who documdrama so some parts of the building were looking like they had done 50 years before.

We ended up back at the audience reception area where no one seemed to want to leave and Adrian, Mark, Martin and others talked to me and the media study students.

I subsequently used that audio in a programme that was broadcast a month or so later when the building itself closed and it was shortlisted at the National Hospital Radio Awards 2014.

10 years on and the building has been reopened for some time, after large parts of it were demolished and rebuilt as the hotel and the dougnut refurbished as apartments.  Studios 1, 2 and 3 are once again working studios looked after by BBC Studioworks but mostly used these days by ITV.  What was once the media centre is now the offices to BBC Studios and even the doughnut is used for programmes once again with the recent series of Top Gear using it as the backdrop to the show.

At a time when there is a shortage of studio space around London, many still question the wisdom of selling off the building, but at least part of it is still in use as TV studios, and it does look smarter than it did when it closed.  It had been run down for many years before the closure, so the redevelopment has breathed some life back into the site, which is also now accessible for the public to walk around the outside areas of the building

The video recorded by Cliff Harris can be seen below:

and the award nominated programme recorded that afternoon can be heard below:

 

 

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