Goodbye Television Centre

March 22nd, 2013 by Alistair MacDonald Leave a reply »

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This is a sad time for those who have fond memories for the good old BBC Television Centre. BBC News moved out last week, the last broadcast from the building happening as I write this, and the building closing at the end of the month. I am one of those people with fond memories.

When I was young my father, formally an electrician in the the theatre, became a broadcast engineer for the BBC and this is why we moved to the south of the country when I was at school. The coincidence of this is I gained access to one of the most interesting places in the world, that being TVC.

At first I thought I must have only been to the building half a dozen times, but writing this I realised just how many more times I have been there and how many memories I have. I have seriously lost count and have seen so much to look back on.

I have been on the Top of the Pop set (in TC2 I think), in the 1980’s Tardis, and watched the (slow) filming of many random programmes from the viewing galleries. I remember walking through the sets of Johnny Briggs, Rolland Rat, and the back of the Noels House Party (that at the time was more of a doughnut than the binding it was contained in).

I have sat in the old news studio when the automated cameras were new and subtitling was done from the corridor. I have seen the turntable the christmas penguins rotated on, I have played with the old COW (Computer Originated World). I was even the first to see the Kenny Everett title sequence when VT was in the basement.

I have walked the corridors and past so may doors. I have eaten in the canteen, drunk the tea, chatted in the BBC club. I have explored the old OB units. I have relaxed in the Blue Peter garden. I have played with the galleries and must be one of the few people who can use a vision mixer that were self tort. I have visited three generations of network control and discovered how stupid all the security keys expiring on new year is.

I have even helped with the TV7 refit in the 90s. I have also briefly been on kids TV but not filmed at TVC. There are so many other memories but if I keep going I will not stop for months.

The most amazing thing is I never got lost in the building. Well, yes, okay, that last fact is a complete lie.

One odd thing is most of my experiences of the place were as a child. Even in the 2000s it was starting to feel a bit foreign and like the next generation had taken over. The atmosphere was still there but I was no longer part of it.

I have not been back since the great Manchester exodus started to drain the life out of the building. I don’t really want to because now there is just a building. The life has gone. I guess the memories will still be there but the atmosphere and the community is what the BBC has really lost, and I think it has gone because I can not find is elsewhere.

So that is it. Goodbye Television Centre. I have some fond memories. They are old and at times they feel like I was a different person, and in many ways I was, but I treasure them never the less.

Just in case you were wondering anything I did within TV was pure nepotism, but my radio career was all my own work.

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