diamond geezer

 Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fancy a tour of Broadcasting House? The BBC runs them daily, allowing access inside the corporation's 1930s HQ and the much more recent extension. Book in advance, stump up £13.50 for the privilege, and you could be looking round tomorrow. I looked round yesterday.

Certain parts of Broadcasting House you can look around for nothing. The curving outside with its embedded artwork, for example. The interior of the Radio Theatre, so long as you've got a ticket for a show. And the Caffe Nero in the courtyard outside, where you might brush shoulders with somebody vaguely famous. Don't mock the latter - yesterday the actual Paul Weller was sitting outside with a cup of coffee, looking a lot more tanned and a little more wizened than I remember. But to get inside properly, within the hallowed sanctum of W1A, you need a ticket.

Tours start at the Media Cafe, which is behind one layer of security so not just anyone can get in. It's shrunk in size since my last visit a few months ago, but still offers a fine view down into the heart of the news machine, and that's before the tour's begun. In fact it offers a better view of the BBC News Channel newsdesk than you'll see later from the official viewing platform, plus a close-up of the spot where Carol & Co present the weather. Try not to stand too near the entrance else you'll hear the full introductory spiel from the guide on the previous tour, and then again with yours fifteen minutes later.

Part one of the circuit takes you through the inner security perimeter to stare down over the newsroom again. This time you'll have it properly explained - the home/foreign divide, the control rooms at the back, the camera that might be broadcasting you live to the nation right now, etc. They may look like just another collection of office workers with mugs of tea tapping into computers, but between them they keep millions across the world informed. And then it's back out to the public bit for the first interactive segment of the tour. There are two of these, where participants are invited to step up and "make programmes", in this case reading the news and weather. If you'd enjoy the opportunity have a go and take selfies, it's ideal. If you were hoping to see a bit of more of the building on the tour, afraid not.

Next stop, Radio 1! Or at least the Radio 1 entrance, which is separate across the piazza, past a legion of BBC staff out smoking. The true target is The One Show, for a look inside the studio where the teatime stalwart is filmed. It's a lot smaller than you'd expect, as you'd expect, and the sofa looks a little tattier too. Only tours departing before 3.30pm get to enter, because after that Matt and Alex and the crew move in. But it's nice to slip inside a TV studio to see the lights, the scenery and the automated cameras, not least because you won't be getting inside a radio studio any time soon.

And finally to Old Broadcasting House, first for admiration of its Art Deco reception, and then to the Radio Theatre. I'd never been upstairs before, so enjoyed the look down across the stalls, and the chance to listen to the tube trains rumbling regularly underneath. I could have done with more detail of the architecture, but I sensed the guides pitch their presentation towards the general composition of each party, so we got iPad shots of Emeli Sandé instead. A final chunk of interaction follows, with several volunteers required to record a brief radio drama complete with sound effects. Again it's fun, but ratchets up the feeling that this is more of an experience than a tour.

The tour of BBC Television Centre was better, to be frank, but you can't do the tour of TVC any more so this will suffice. A lot seems to rest on how good your two guides are, and at least one of ours was excellent. But they're held back by not really being able to give you a tour of the building, just a few semi-public spaces and one tiny studio. I guess I'm fortunate in that I'd seen a lot of this before, hence I'd strongly recommend trying to get free tickets for the Radio Theatre, and probably one of the less popular recordings. But if you'd like an insight into how your licence fee is spent, maybe spend a small fraction of it on a tour of Broadcasting House.

Other BBC tours are available: Salford, Birmingham, Norwich, Bristol, Newcastle, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast, Cambridge, Truro, Coventry, Blackburn, Lincoln, Northampton, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth, Ipswich, Middlesbrough

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream