Thursday, 28 March 2013

Goodbye To TVC

In the past I've been quite shy about saying where I worked prior to being a Teaching Assistant and then doing my PGCE course.

But I think it's ok to tell you now - I used to be a Personal Assistant at the BBC. I worked there between 2007-2011 and although for the most part I had an amazing time, I left under a bit of a cloud as I was really quite unhappy in my last job. On the plus side it helped to move me on career-wise and I love what I do now but the few months before I decided to go were quite tough. 

The front wall of TC1- the biggest television studio in Europe

While the closure of BBC Television Centre has been all across the media in the last few weeks, I feel like I've left the building and the organisation all over again. My Dad was employed by Auntie (nickname for the BBC) for over 40 years and we have always lived a stone's throw from the studios. My Mum has lived in W12 all her life and can even remember the building being constructed when she was a young girl in the 1950s. It has been a BIG part of all our lives. I know we've all shed a tear or two about it in the past weeks, it seems like such a waste to dispose and demolish most of what is an iconic building in cultural history.

The final office I worked in - 6080 TVC
Earlier this week, Dad and I were lucky enough to have one final walk round the building. It was like a ghost town, so different to the hussle and bussle I'd been used to. You could almost here the voices of the past as you walked around the empty corridors and studios and wandered around deserted offices trying to remember what had been there before.

When I was trying to lose weight before my wedding I'd run up and down these stairs to get to my office on the 6th floor at least twice a day.
The memories of happy times working there came flooding back. I was reminded of things I'd not thought about in a long time.
  • Brushing my hair in a lift on the way to meet a friend for lunch. The lift stops at the 4th floor, the doors spring open and Bruce Forsythe wanders in. Seeing me with my brush in hand, he offers to brush my hair and tells me how much he used to like brushing his mother's long hair.
  • Attending 'Take Your Daughter To Work Day' when I was 11 years old and being taken to the Newsnight studio where we took turns with the equipment and were mock-interviewed by Jennie Bond. I wasn't aware of it at the time but there was a photographer there and the next day I ended up on the front page of The Guardian. 
The view from the East Tower - home to BBC Children's
  • Washing everyone's mugs late on a Friday afternoon with Chris Evans watching me the entire time. There were a lot of mugs and it took about 20 minutes and I was so annoyed that he didn't even ask if he could help dry them!
  • Getting stuck in a revolving door with Charlotte Green (Radio 4 Announcer) for 10 minutes when I was supposed to be collecting a girl from reception to to take her for a job interview. Then I bumped into John Simms (Actor - Life on Mars) and ran into Graham Norton who had all these little handbag dogs with him. I went back to my desk that morning with a lot of stories to tell.
Empty newsroom gallery - looks like they've just left for lunch
  • Buying a salad from the canteen and discovering a slug crawling around in it. When I went back to ask for my money back they gave me money and said I could have anything I wanted - I ate cake and custard for my lunch that day. I've never felt so indulgent!
  • The woman who always strutted around the gym changing rooms completely naked. I passed her at the Tube station last Friday and couldn't help but laugh out loud to finally see her fully dressed.
  • Alan Yentob (presenter and very important BBC executive) telling me how lovely he throught the Christmas decorations I'd put up in my office were. I was so chuffed I took pictures of all of them and posted them on Facebook. Considering he usually seemed to be very miserable (and wore very strange baggy trousers) I thought it was quite a surprise to hear him be so positive.
Deserted Blue Peter garden - all the old pets have been dug up and relocated to Salford
  • Eating a homemade cake that Nigella Lawson had brought to a meeting and discovering that it was actually quite vile.
  • Always seeing Miranda Hart on her bike riding around the periphery before I even knew who she was. I thought it was hilarious to see such a tall woman on a silly small bike but remembered thinking at the time how amazing her skin was. 
  • Visiting the Broom Cupboard (Philip Scofield's starting place) when I was 4 and meeting Ed The Duck before going to watch my Dad film Blue Peter. I was in complete awe and have wanted to be a BP presenter ever since. I think I'm a little bit too old for the job now, so should probably put that dream to bed!
I really could go on and on (Dad's memories are even more special - full of stories about 'TV's Golden Days' filming Morecombe and Wise, Dad's Army, etc) but you're probably not that interested. I just wanted to get some of my memories down and recorded otherwise I know I'll forget them in the years to come.

The closure of Television Centre is a loss not only to the local area and for the staff who loved working there but for the BBC. For those who were part of her past or present, 31st March 2013 will be a very sad day.

Lights in TC1 Studio


  1. You're wrong - this is REALLY interesting! Thanks for sharing these photos and your memories. It is a sad end.

  2. What a wonderful list of memories! It does seem an awful shame that the building is being demolished, especially those stairs.

  3. What a lovely poignant post - I hadn't realised they were actually knocking the building down, you'd think it's be listed! The Bruce Forsythe anecdote was ever so slightly creepy though!! x

  4. Ah Ed the Duck, I'd forgotten about him! What a lovely collection of memories. I didn't know they were knocking the building down. I didn't actually know it was closing either - I knew some people had moved to Salford, but thought they were just spreading out! I agree with Lucy, I think the Brucie incident was a bit creepy!

  5. I'm glad to hear that you weren't completely bored by this post!

    The BBC are to three studios and the new block to use it for BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm) but the developers who bought it plan to transform the key listed buildings into shops, a boutique hotel, arts cinema and give it lots of public access. The rest of the buildings will be knocked down and turned into affordable housing (know doubt given silly street names like Morecombe Way and Forsyth Road!).

    What is ridiculous is that the BBC have spent a silly amount of money building a new complex just down the road which they plan to vacate by the end of the decade. Where they going to put all the employees goodness only knows. Lots of BBC staff think it was silly not to refurbish the main TVC site and sell off all the excess buildings and land to fund it, but those in charge dug in their heels!

    I do wonder if in time they'll realise what a mistake they've made. Only time will tell! x