Monday, June 20, 2011

On the future of BBC Television Centre

On the future of BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ

There is a certain amount of sadness in broadcasting circles following the news that the BBC is to sell off Television Centre, that iconic building that stands as a symbol of Public Service Broadcasting for the entire world. The news is sad, yet inevitable, as the ageing building is hardly suited in this age of modern digital technology.

I remember, at the age of five or six, being taken by family friends on the bus up to Shepherds Bush, where myself, my brother and sister were taken to the viewing gallery above one of the studios to watch the blessed triumverate of John Noakes, Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton broadcast a live edition of Blue Peter.

Then, we were led through a maze of corridors to another studio, where preparations were well under way for a recording of Scouse cop drama Z-Cars. Of course, I failed to understand that this was TV history in the making, but I fell in love with the building on that day.

It has been my privelege, then, to spend at least some of my career actually working in TV Centre (measured in days, rather than weeks or months), and spent my time there wondering, lost, around its notorious doughnut, unable to work out where I was, where I was going, or even, as I passed picture of Ken Dodd for the third time, remember who I was. TVC's like that, once you're inside, it has you and it doesn't let you go. The only reason some people never leave is because they can't find the exit.

Now, its days are numbered as the BBC announces its intention to leave the site. It would be sad to see the place demolished, so the hope is that some investor will put up the money to keep it as it is.

This week's B3ta Newsletter carries an appeal from the World of Geek to create a playable map of TVC for computer games such as Halo or Call of Duty. "There are so many confusing corridors, secret passages and obscured balconies, it'd be fun to run around in," B3ta says, hoping that someone, somewhere has the blueprints.

But why do that in an imaginary world? Why - dammit - can't we do that for real?

Come on BBC: Give the people what they want. And the people demand Television Centre Paintball. Rushing from room to room, studio to studio, cavernous costume store to the deadly canteen, war will indeed be HELL. Bloody brilliant, utterly awesome HELL.

Make it so, for The Battle of the Blue Peter Italian Sunken Garden is there to be won.

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