We began this week with a visit to BBC Television Centre in East London, which is set to close in the next few months. As noted yesterday, BBC radio and television will soon be housed under one roof. The beloved Bush House studios that contain the BBC World Service, heard over many public radio stations in the US, will migrate to the new building as well.
The television centre has eight studios, and only one or two may be saved from destruction by Stanhope PLC, the company that bought the property to convert it into a hotel or apartments. Bush House may become a hotel as well. This massive property contains the first purpose-built studios for TV in the world. This is where shows such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Top of the Pops, Dr. Who, and Are you Being Served? were filmed. Are You Being Served? ran from 1972-1985 on the BBC, and is still being shown regularly on WUNC-TV. Monty Python and Fawlty Towers would be better choices.
Our BBC guides showed us all over the building and expressed their sadness at losing such a landmark. They also showed us some fun stuff, such as the set for a long running children’s show called “Blue Peter.” We hadn’t heard of it, but there were some children from London tagging along on the tour and their eyes widened with recognition when they saw the set with cushy chairs, a kitchen, and some doghouses.
Our guides also demonstrated a blue screen, developed by the BBC during the early days of Dr. Who, by having Jocelyn Holt cover herself from the neck down with a blue cloth, creating a floating head above the earth.
Students also participated in a mock news show and a mock game show.
The BBC’s 3.6 billion pound budget comes from licensing fees on televisions in the United Kingdom, a figure that has been frozen until 2016. There have been many cost cutting measures over the past several years, but the BBC remains the world’s largest news gathering organization, beating international competitor CNN by about a third and dwarfing American cable channels FOX and MSNBC. Our guides stressed that the BBC prides itself on both scope of reach and the fact that its news is “totally unbiased.”
We ended the day at HUGE, a digital promotional agency with offices in Brooklyn, London, Istanbul, and other cities around the globe. Thanks to Jeff Stern for making this connection.
A LITTLE RECREATION…
While many of the students listened to an Irish band at a club, Hatcher and Makemson decided to ride the London Eye Sunday night to see the lights of the city from on high.
On Monday night, we watched dancing candies at the M&M megastore. We’re off to Berlin in the morning and looking forward to hitting a jazz club in Germany to neutralize this weird and somewhat psychodelic experience.
Near the M&M store in Leicester Square is a place called the Rainforest Cafe. You walk through a store in the front with a mechanical alligator, lots of fake greenery, and many stuffed animals with a nature theme to get to the restaurant, which serves burgers, chicken and other family friendly food. It reminded me of an Environmental Cracker Barrel.
Up at 4:30 a.m. and off to Berlin…