Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Goodbye TV Centre

Thursday, 21 March 2013

  Just to say, the little documentary films I made about BBC TV Centre (as mentioned on the news page) will be screened as part of a gala tribute programme tomorrow (Friday) evening on BBC Four. Starting around 7 or 8pm I think there’s a live Madness concert first, and then the two-hour tribute show with Michael Grade talking to some very major BBC stars, interspersed with a few little VT films from me (plus I joined Michael G for the last discussion at the end of the show).

  I honestly don’t know how wide an appeal this programme will have. I think it’s very good and right that it was made and is being broadcast: the iconic TV Centre building is closing, and this should not happen without a bit of fanfare, sadness and nostalgia. Many say it should not happen “full stop”.

  It may be that general viewers aren’t that interested in a retrospective of a building. But I remember watching The MultiColoured Swap Shop as a kid, imagining that magical spaceship-building it was being beamed from (I imagined it full of toys, waiting to be swapped), and it feels like a significant era-end to me.

  Certainly, the number of big stars that crowded into the studio last week to pay tribute to this building, for a BBC Four show, is testament to how much it means to people who have worked there. I never really have. But I’m still awfully sorry to see it go.

  If you watch, do look out for Brian Blessed’s interview. He was sort of hilarious… and then sort of heroic.

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Lucy at 9:58 pm on March 21st, 2013

really looking forward to this:)

strangely at 10:57 pm on March 22nd, 2013

Having just watched the programme, i’ve no idea what level of appeal it will have either. The people around me, as a sweeping but largely accurate generalisation, seem not to notice or care about the dismantling of iconic institutions around us.

I watched expecting to be annoyed that the BBC had chosen to screen this rather than the marvellous documentary shown last year. I now find myself just angry, that the goodbye took place on what is sadly a minority channel, and that icons and stars tonight can rage and rage against the dying of this particular light, and so few people are there to listen.

Well done yourself, but the programme only makes me sad. Sadly.

Pauline at 1:12 pm on March 23rd, 2013

I watched this while roving on twitter and was astonished to see how many people said they didn’t care

The same happened to us in France in 1993 when the Studios Chaumont were sold. Nobody cared either. 8 years later politicians decided it was still too expensive and sold the scattered studios to private producers.
In 2002 to try and recreate a group dynamic, they built a new centre. The model was… BBC TVC. But it’s too late. I spent 2 years there and did not see any sense of belonging to something important at all.

I’m 27 and feel old when I talk to my colleagues about it, but it’s a shame. TV matters and should be respected and people should care.
This being said, I have just resigned (not because of that), and I’m moving to London next month. So I guess my anger is a bit lame

J at 5:35 pm on March 25th, 2013

I thought the programme was fantastic. Perhaps to some it is “just a building” but a question you asked Brian Blessed really made me think: It is, and yet it isn’t, just a building. As far as “will the BBC lose its centre of gravity”? I would say no. Great shows can still be made at various studios throughout the country; however, it’s the nostalgia I’m worried about. It’s like Danny Baker said, it may make financial sense now, but years from now I think everyone will have much less to look back on. Looking back on the history of a studio that’s produced maybe one show, vs countless shows made at television centre.

Angela at 10:44 am on March 29th, 2013

The show was so bittersweet. I can’t believe they’re making such a mistake. Brian Blessed’s interview was hilarious.

Also, I loved the dress you were wearing when you were sitting on the couch with DM. May I ask where you got it?


Victoria Coren at 2:10 am on March 30th, 2013

Hi Angela. I’m afraid I bought it online and don’t remember where - and I just looked for a label and there isn’t one! Sorry… it was just one of those random midnight googles, which is how I tend to buy clothes these days.

Angela at 10:39 am on March 31st, 2013

Thanks for the response Victoria, I know what you mean about the midnight googling. Thank God for the internet.

Bryan at 10:28 am on April 2nd, 2013

I loved the show. The guests were all equally good and offered nuggets of TV centre’s past. Some guests were a little bit too rose tinted, but balance overall was kept. The sender the building offered more than just bricks and mortar was conveyed very nicely.
Also it was great to see you getting away from a desk for once. Last time I think was balderdash and piffle.

Victoria Coren

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