The soon-to-be-history Television Centre opened its doors to us on the day we filmed show 2 presenter links and I thought I ought to share with you what it’s like inside the famous broadcasting centre. But this was not the actually the first time I’d been inside the famous building…
I am going to let you in on an embarrassing little anecdote from my naive days before I was a London 360 reporter. Here goes:
When I was due for an interview for the role at Media Trust, I made sure I arrived a good half an hour in advance. This is something I do on principle for most appointments, and those that know me know exactly why this is: I am hopeless at finding places. Despite emerging from White City tube station with 30 minutes to spare and a Google Maps printout to hand I simply could not find the building. In my confusion and apparent lack of obvious signs to the Media Trust OR Centre House, I simply assumed it must be inside the BBC TV centre. After all, they are corporate partners, so it didn’t seem to mad to me at the time.
Confidently striding inside the revolving glass doors, I click-clacked my way over to the front desk and announced:
“My name is Holly Powell-Jones; I’m here for an interview”. Then an awkward few moments followed, whilst the receptionist searched for my name.
“Er… who is it with?”
“It’s at 2pm; with Cara and Jasmine?”
A few more taps into the computer.
“We don’t seem to have any record of it…”
“Oh.” My voice gradually getting smaller “It’s for the reporter role with the Media Trust”.
Man shakes his head and points towards the revolving doors.
“You probably want the Media Trust then: it’s just across the road”.
Embarrassing? Hugely. Nevertheless, you learn from your mistakes, I can tell you turning up early and knowing without a shadow of doubt where you’re going really helps in life.
Luckily no one would have recognised me when we turned up for the presenters links a couple of months later. Plus I was flanked by Community Channel troupe members, with Jasmine confidently leading the way, so there was much less chance of embarrassment!
We signed in and were given our little laminate badges, and then headed up to the studio. My first thought was “Show Offs!” as we passed giant posters of the Beeb’s best-ever programmes and a cabinet with a collection of BAFTA awards jumbled in together. Later, having reflected on this, I think it’s actually a brilliant idea- Why not remind people that they’re part of something brilliant? It not only shows recognition of the great work people have done whilst at the company, but also inspires newbies what they can achieve. ‘Aim high!’ (To tell the truth it had a similar effect on some of our team as well as we wandered around the beeb…)
There was a slight sense of the uncanny when entering the corridors- Uncanny is concept that Freud came up with to describe something “strangely familiar” and soon I realised that the long green hallways reminded me of exactly of my local NHS; wandering along felt a bit like being on a set of Doctor Who during an episode at an abandoned, outdated hospital from the seventies. Not only that but the directions were somewhat ambiguous, as the crew and I took a good 30 minutes trying to find the canteen- despite passing many, many signs! Perhaps it isn’t coincidence the building is shaped like a question mark?
As for the studio we were in, the “small” studio, it was larger than the whole of our section of the office! Black floors with scratch marks no doubt from shifting various set pieces, and dangling old fashioned lights suspended like something from a different era (which, I suppose, they are). At one point we were slightly alarmed at what appeared to be asbestos, but turned out to be just tons of sound=proof insulation surrounding the studio. It was amazing to think of how many great things had been filmed in there over the decades, and in a way, sad to think the Beeb were selling it. We discussed the merits of creating a ‘broadcasting museum’ and BBC archive centre out of it, before realising that only a very small percentage of media geeks (such as us!) would ever want to go!
The other redeeming feature is the ancient building is simply who you might bump into. After the lifts (which have a mind of their own) disappeared up to floor 6 with all of our equipment in it, we were surprised to see none other than Lezo from Newsround emerging from the lift as it returned! A legend from our CBBC childhood! Although he looked a bit confused at why there was a load of cameras and lights and tripods in the lift…
The next day from our desks at the Media Trust we heard whooping and cheering from over the road and looked out to see the centre of the BBC Television Centre full of people dressed up in bright colours and cheering. It was the last ever recording of Blue Peter at the television centre where they were trying to break the record for the most number of people hula-hooping at once. Talk about going out in style!
Photo: Holly Powell-Jones