Independent web site for Park Royal & Old Oak Common, London, and beyond
The Independent: "BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past"
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"Mike is giving me a tour of BBC Television Centre in White City, west London, prior to its handover to developers on October 1. After being sold to Stanhope Plc for £200m last year, the building – with its eight massive television studios, 121 dressing rooms, set-making factory, two bars, three restaurants, Blue Peter garden and hundreds and hundreds of offices – stopped making programmes and was mothballed.
"Another £400m will be spent turning the site into 950 homes and a 47-room Soho House hotel over the next couple of years. BBC Worldwide will be head-quartered here and Studios 1, 2 and 3 will be saved, but the others lie empty, awaiting demolition.
"They are scary in their enormity, haunted by the ghosts of shows past, of moments and performers inextricably hard-wired into the collective consciousness of the nation. Who isn't happily endowed with memories of Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson or Tony Hancock? Of Gary Lineker, Graham Norton or Victoria Wood? Of Larry and Johnny, Dickie and Alec, Judi and Glenda?
"... The site was bought by the BBC in 1949 and was officially opened by the Queen in 1960. Its architect, Graham Dawbarn, is said to have doodled a question mark while considering its design. He looked at it and thought to himself, 'Hang on, that looks rather good.' And that is why, from the air, the building looks like a question mark without a dot."