TV Home Forum

Broadcasting House, Salford Quays & TVC

(September 2010)

TR
TROGGLES London London
I am sure the BBC didn't need all of TVC. But I am also sure the BBC (and the industry as a whole) will find it needs more than one medium sized production studio when it moves back in. Everyone in the industry has bemoaned the destruction of TC4, 6 and 8. These were the busiest studios of all, they're perfectly sized for the kind of shows that need to be in studios. They were all busy right up to the end, yet the BBC has elected to keep studios 1 and 2 (along with 3 which most people think will be booked solid). 1 is too big, 2 is too small for most tv studio productions in today's market.

And I don't think it's fair to say that Elstree's studios are vastly inferior to TC. The converted stages at the film studios contain a lot of kit from TC in the first place and Studio D at Elstree has actually improved Children in Need IMO. It's been long overlooked as a decent audience LE studio in the South East for many years and it's great to see it being used again. Built by ATV in the 60s, it's a centre with almost as much heritage as TC!


Sorry should have made it clear, I meant the Elstree studios which S&PP rent.
..."at the first sign of danger my pussy's hairs stand on end" Betty Slocombe 27/05/1975
IS
Inspector Sands

Mark Thompson sold the BBC and us the owners down the river to the Tories and then cleared off to America. Selling off a nationally owned asset for peanuts to developers is something to be expected of the Tories. The DG is supposed to be the buffer between the Government and the defender of the BBC - Its in his contract.

Thompson took the money and sold us out.

Although it happened towards the end of Mark Thomson's tenure (and of course he didn't 'take the money') it was on the cards for over a decade before it was sold. Even before that the changes to the way productions and departments were financed in the late 80's and 90's started to make it inevitable


Salford and BH were the two main emptiers of the centre, but it was increasingly unsuitable for various uses - the presentation department for example which was expanding fast in the early 2000's so needed more and flexible space. It's move out of TVC was a major landmark in it's closure... and that was in 2002.



The main factor for it's closure however is technology. The big TV factories like TVC and ATV House were built in the days when technical equipment needed special areas to house them in. They had film processing areas, VT suites that took up whole rooms, edit suites and large sound mixing studios. All that done on desktop computers. Also the architecture of the technical areas isn't unique to TV studios any more, hollow floors to run cables and air conditioned apparatus rooms are common to every business now.

Why does any broadcaster need a specially built TV centre when they can have nice flexible open office space?

The loss of the studios themselves is sad but then they too are less in demand these days. How many of the BBC's top rated programmes are filmed in traditional TV studios? Top Gear, Masterchef, Bake Off, Sherlock, Dr Who, EastEnders... none of them come from a TV studio.

The problem TV Centre had was that the studios and the less useful parts of the building - the crappy offices and the old fashioned tech block were all in the same building so the options for keeping them but not the rest are limited.... hence the not quite ideal situation now.

Keeping 8 studios because the industry needs them when the BBC don't is an odd argument - it's arguably not the BBC's job to provide studios for others
TR
TROGGLES London London
Whilst everyone accepts that TVC needed bringing up to date and made fit for purpose, it is that option which is the one which would have been most financially sound. (BH costs a fortune to run) The BBC providing studios is only an odd argument if they were giving them away for free, the weren't they were making a damn good profit on selling a top quality service and that went back into programme making rather than some developers fat cat wallet. It would have been perfectly possible to keep the studios and get rid of the periphery.

I have worked in the media mainly radio & TV for most of my life, change is something which happens all the time - but selling up Television Centre was the worst decision I and many others have ever seen.
..."at the first sign of danger my pussy's hairs stand on end" Betty Slocombe 27/05/1975
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Not sure I'd agree that EastEnders doesn't come from a studio.
Write that down in your copybook now.
GO
gottago London London
For me I think it's a shame that they spent many millions completely refurbishing Broadcasting House but not TVC. I accept the cost of refurbing both probably would have been astronomical but given they plan to move out of the two large remaining White City buildings anyway TVC could have easily been filled again.
IS
Inspector Sands
Not sure I'd agree that EastEnders doesn't come from a studio.

It's more a sound stage I think, purpose built/converted for the production.
IS
Inspector Sands
For me I think it's a shame that they spent many millions completely refurbishing Broadcasting House but not TVC. I accept the cost of refurbing both probably would have been astronomical but given they plan to move out of the two large remaining White City buildings anyway TVC could have easily been filled again.

I think 'refurbing' is an understatement - totally rebuilding is more accurate. All that remains of BH from 10 years ago is part of the original building.

But as I say the problem with TVC is that the office space in most of the site isn't really up to modern standards or requirements.* Large open plan flexible office space is the modern way of doing it - the White City buildings are exactly that (and of course are suitable for any future tennants too unlike TVC ). If they'd have kept TV Centre it would probably have needed major pruning and a massive rebuild on the scale of BH.

If it was a choice between BH and TV Centre, the BBC would choose BH as it's the more important and historic of the two sites


*Stage 6 at TV Centre is the only exception, it's only 20 years old.... and that'll be why it's been retained (with a bit of a refurb) by the BBC
TR
TROGGLES London London
Whilst BH was the more historic of the sites, TVC was the one with more flexibility, cheaper to convert and cheaper to run. TVC has been converted altered and adapted since it was built. Whilst a nice office environment is preferable, Zen Zones, Pods, noisy draughty open plan offices and a shortage of desks is no way to make programmes or run a TV station. My first production office had second hand desks, phones and ancient photocopier. Programmes still came out with the money spent on the screen and not some £6K desk and chair.
..."at the first sign of danger my pussy's hairs stand on end" Betty Slocombe 27/05/1975
CA
Cando London London
TVC more flexible??? Are you having a laugh. I've heard it all now.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Not sure I'd agree that EastEnders doesn't come from a studio.

It's more a sound stage I think, purpose built/converted for the production.

I thought they used a couple of the original ATV studios for the standing sets, with studio production techniques rather than as a 4 waller?
Write that down in your copybook now.
TI
tightrope78 UTV Newsline
Whilst it's nice to look at the past with rose tinted glasses I would have to say as a tourist who visits London regularly I've never felt closer to the BBC. I love being able to go into Broadcasting House or to sit outside in the piazza and have a coffee whilst looking out for presenters etc I know.

I think it's the best thing that could have happened to the BBC instead of being stuck with an ageing white elephant.
IS
Inspector Sands
Whilst BH was the more historic of the sites, TVC was the one with more flexibility, cheaper to convert and cheaper to run.

If you call flexibility having to knock through asbestos filled walls every time you want to extend an office or technical area. That's why what is now Red Bee left the building - space was limited, if they wanted to launch a new channel or technology it required knocking out something else or having bits dotted round the building.

I doubt it was that cheap to run, it's was huge spread out aging site

Quote:
TVC has been converted altered and adapted since it was built.

Yes it has been alerted and adapted to suit the various needs of the BBC over the years, but most of those needs have now gone. So it's being converted and altered again!

Quote:
Whilst a nice office environment is preferable, Zen Zones, Pods, noisy draughty open plan offices and a shortage of desks is no way to make programmes or run a TV station.

But that's how TV is made these days. It's not in stuffy windowless tech-blocks and isolated production offices. It's how all companies work these days in fact.

A friend of mine came round the last TV station I worked at once and asked abut where the actual programmes were made. I has to explain that all those people at desks were making programmes... we were churning out hours from there!

Quote:
My first production office had second hand desks, phones and ancient photocopier. Programmes still came out with the money spent on the screen and not some £6K desk and chair.

Good for you, I don't know what that has to do with things. Even TV Centre had new stuff and comfy chairs!
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 27 February 2015 4:43pm

Newer posts