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GES284 - BBC Broadcasting House

While this has achieved the high explore number of GES284, it was actually the second main explore I ever did. I was leant a BBC pass by a friend, and went to explore BBC TV Centre. A short time afterwards I went to look around BBC Broadcasting House. At the time, around 2007/2008, Broadcasting House was being extended to cope with the future closing down of BBC TV Centre. Photography isn't permitted in BBC buildings without a license, so these are all covert pictures. I tried to go for the hat trick by exploring BBC Bush House, but i was spotted, and asked to leave. The pictures were all taken on a compact camera (Canon A80 fact fans), so the quality is worse than usual.

Broadcasting House is the headquarters of one of the world's most prestigious broadcasting companies, the BBC. Famously independent of corporate or political ownership, although like any media outlet, it's not perfect. The gorgeous art deco building clad in Portland Stone, sits just off London's main commercial thoroughfare, Oxford St. It was built in 1932, when it's first radio broadcast was made.

The island like Broadcasting House, without it's current extensions. The building is Grade II listed, meaning only a few alterations can ever be made to the frontage.

The BBCs portfolio of Radio Stations lines the lobby behind reception, next to the lifts. The Radio Theatre cafe is off to the left.

What looks like an original art deco lift, with a possible early BBC logo.

The possible BBC logo on the floor of the lift.

A ride in the lift came up to the 6th floor. I came out on an open plan office, with all the desks deserted as it was a Saturday. Looking out next to the old radio tower down Regent St. All Souls church on the left.

The John Peel wing, finished in 2005, was a precursor to the work going on around Broadcasting House at the time of this explore. This glass vase like structure sits on top of the John Peel Wing. All Saints church sits in the background.

When you cut away the structure to it's core, Broadcasting house is actually very small. As shown by this floor plan. It doesn't include the new John Peel Wing, or the more recent buildings to the rear.

Most of the broadcast studios were locked, but a few were open

Even in 2007/8 the presenter/DJ controlled pretty much everything from their desk. Any guests would sit by the window. These studios are used more for recordings, as opposed to being live. In live broadcast suites, a producer would sit on the other side of a glass pane in the wall in a separate room.

Appropriately enough, Radio 4 is based on the 4th Floor. At the time, the Today programme was broadcast from BBC TV Centre in White City.

As you might expect, the recording library was quite extensive. Nearly all of it on CD.

One of the most interesting bits of the building and for me, a place of homage. The Radio Theatre on the ground floor of the building, and is used for recording live performances. It was here in the 1950s that the Goon Show was recorded and broadcast not only to the UK, but the 4 corners of the world as a lot of material recorded was, and still is. For those unfamiliar with the Goon Show, to quote Neddie Seagoon, "You Fools." The Goon Show introduced the world to Spike Milligan, who wrote the lionshare of scripts and the more famous Peter Sellers. Spike Milligan is the Godfather of surreal comedy, and changed humour for ever. Peter Seller's range of voices led to him being cast in multiple rolls in the awesome 'Dr. Strangelove.' Not only was the show iconic and ground breaking, it was one of many times when the BBC took a risk and backed a show that went on to achieve not just success but cult status. Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Office and Brass Eye are other examples.

The sound booth

The theatre was built in the 1930s, and as such is rife with sumptuous art deco features.

I actually attended a recording here a few years before, I can't remember what for, but Sacha Baron Cohen was there to introduce something he'd done and needed a laughter track.

On the right is the back of Broadcasting House. A view likely to never be seen again.

The vast size of the extension can be seen here, this is only half of it.

Not as exciting or as interesting as the BBC TV Centre, but the Radio Theatre made up for it, for me. The building site above sits over the Regent St Sewer, as well as the Victoria and Bakerloo underground lines, which I would go on to explore in the years after as I got deeper into the exploring scene.