Saturday, 23 March 2013

Goodbye Television Centre - A Celebration That Wasn't

Recreating a classic TV moment
on The One Show
As Alan Whicker recently observed even nostalgia isn't what it used to be. 

As Auntie Beeb bade farewell to BBC Television Centre last night after 53 years,  it was almost as if something which should have been observed as a commemoration of greatness was almost brushed under the carpet.

The One Show kicked off proceedings at 7pm with Chris Evans and Alex Jones speaking to Michael Grade and Terry Wogan. 

Wogan himself was quite vocal about his feelings on the closure: "I know it's only a building. I know it's an inanimate object and it doesn't have a heart. But it has a spirit. There are spirits here, of immensely talented, brilliant people who made some of the best television programmes ever seen and I think it's a shame. It's a shame to close it down."

Evans caught up with two former Doctor Who's Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Baker was seemingly kept far away from the man who fired him back in 1986, Michael Grade but  appeared to have the last laugh when he gave Evans his ghastly Doctor Who coat to wear, which Evans did for the remainder of the show.

The One Show's major highlight was probably Matt Baker recreating Roy Castle's 1977 Record Breaker's tap dance around the fountain area of Television Centre with 600 tap dancers, pure magic.

Madness closed The One Show with Sugg's recalling that the band were banned from every show they appeared on because they didn't mime properly, thankfully they got to play out TV Centre like most events such as last years Jubilee and Olympics with fun and humour. If you need to close something, get The Nutty Boys in.

BBC4 continued to broadcast Madness live, followed by Goodbye Television Centre hosted by Michael Grade. The show featured such luminaries such as David Attenborough, Ronnie Corbett, Bruce Forsyth, Terry Wogan, Michael Parkinson, Noel Edmonds and Brian Blessed who also  lamented the loss of TV Centre by decreeing that those who made the decision to move the studios needed a "kick up the arse."

TV Centre's  closure undoubtedly is the end of an era, the spirits of many great TV shows reside there and thanks to an incomplete BBC archive we can continue to enjoy some of those shows on DVD, others are just remembered with fondness. 

For me, my TV Centre memories are been able to recite the address like doggerel as I grew up. God knows how many times I entered drawing competitions on Blue Peter or Doctor Who competitions on Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore and sent them in to BBC TV Centre, Wood Lane, London W12 8QT

I even visited the holy building five years ago to see the recording of Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army. It was a fabulous evening  in itself celebrating 40 years of Dad's Army, it would be the last time a few surviving key figures involved with the series would chat about the series, David Croft, Philip Madoc and Clive Dunn (only on video) having since passed on. Jonathan Ross's own classic tenure on the BBC was shortly to end too.

So is the move from TV Centre wiping the slate clean? Chucking out the high standards set by its glorious past as well as the mistakes made along the way (Savilegate undoubtedly casting a dark shadow over proceedings), the BBC's decision to relegate much of the evenings celebrations to BBC Four was undoubtedly deliberate and only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. Bush House last year, Television Centre this. Sad times. I wonder if there was the same fuss when the Beeb left Ally Pally or Savoy Hill?
    Of course TVC was the birthplace of many programmes that have become part of the fabric of British popular culture and is quite rightly lauded. Whilst the reminiscences of the Parky, Wogan, Brucie et al recalled the a time of creative ferment you have to remember that the Centre had long since moved on from being the powerhouse of British TV and that it all started to disintegrate many years ago during the Birt era.
    As to the TV celebrations it was noticeable that it was ‘relegated’ to BBC4. Some of us remember the closure of the Lime Grove studios, which didn’t engender such affection as TVC, but got a day of programmes on BBC2. Mind you that was probably 20-ish years ago.
    On a non-BBC note its also worth stating that this week also saw the closure of Granada’s Quay Road studios, first opened back in 1956. This week was truly the of an era in british broadcasting.



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