BBC Television and HUGE on our last full day in London

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.

The 50-year-old BBC Television Centre is set to close within the next few months.

The 50-year-old BBC Television Centre is set to close within the next few months.

The migration of all radio and TV, including news, into this new facility near central London will be completed by spring 2013.

The migration of all radio and TV, including news, into this new facility near central London will be completed by spring 2013.

This is the historic studio where many historic British comedies were filmed. Monty Python's wonderful silliness was shot within these walls.

This is the historic studio where many historic British comedies were filmed. Monty Python’s wonderful silliness was shot within these walls.

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.

Happy children on the old set of the British TV show "Blue Peter."

Happy children on the old set of the British TV show “Blue Peter.”

Happy Elon children David Stone and Jason Puckett on the set of "Blue Peter."

Happy Elon children David Stone and Jason Puckett on the set of “Blue Peter.”

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.

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Students also participated in a mock news show and a mock game show.

A screen shot of Jason Puckett, who actually anchors broadcasts for Elon Local News, and David Stone onscreen.

A screen shot of Jason Puckett, who actually anchors broadcasts for Elon Local News, and David Stone onscreen.

A home field advantage allowed the two young brothers in the middle to win the game show over Rhett Richards and Scott Richardson.

A home field advantage allowed the two young brothers in the middle to win the game show over Rhett Richards and Scott Richardson.

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.

Listening to an informative and entertaining lecture on digital marketing in the offices of HUGE.

Listening to an informative and entertaining lecture on digital marketing in the offices of HUGE.

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.

Each glass pod on the London eye can hold up to 20 people.

Each glass pod on the London eye can hold up to 20 people.

Up close at night, each pod looks like an alien spaceship.

Up close at night, each pod looks like an alien spaceship.

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.

The M&M store is loud, colorful, and according to Rhett Richards, smells like chocolate cologne.

The M&M store is loud, colorful, and according to Rhett Richards, smells like chocolate cologne.

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…

-A. Hatcher

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