Danny Baker, Richard Bacon, Fiona Bruce & Brian Blessed have all had their say, I thought it was only right I should air my views too, writes AP Jodie Gravett.
This week sees the end of BBC Television Centre as we know it, and as I watched Madness and Michael Grade pay their respects last week, I got caught up in the emotion and nostalgia of it all. I reminisced about the time I found myself in the TVC basement being serenaded by Phil Collins, and when a friend barged Brian May out of the way at the Green Tea Bar. I searched high and low for the photographs of the time I abseiled off the roof of Studio 1 to raise money for Children in Need. I reminded friends of when we snuck out of the Watchdog studio to watch Franz Ferdinand record the TOTP special, and not to mention the one and only time I had a meeting on the hallowed 6th floor with the new BBC3 controller, only to be drastically late as I went round and round in circles in that doughnut!
Today with a clear head and in work mode, at a meeting across the road in the old Centre House, I looked out of the window at that now forlorn doughnut against a backdrop of a dull snow filled sky. It struck me, it’s not just a loss for the onscreen talent who’ve been lamenting on BBC4 and Twitter. It seemed to me, as a lowly freelancing AP who is simply lucky enough to count that building among many of her work places, that a whole community has been wiped out.
W12 meant only one thing. There was a buzz amongst the people still languishing on the tube as it neared White City; anticipation, excitement, a sense of belonging even. It felt like something happened in that part of town, and even if you didn’t work for the BBC you were still part of it. What will happen to the man who sells the Big Issue at the station? Will that underground bar on Shepherds Bush Green finally submerge? And what will become of Shepherds Bush Market (or casting pool and prop store as I like to call it)?
That sense of community, that buzz , I just can’t imagine it at Portland Place. The bars and coffee houses of Soho don’t need those BBC people with their silly passes dangling by their crotch. And when you see a bunch of people on a Tuesday night daring each other to do the most pull ups on the hand rails of the tube train at Oxford Street, you can’t be sure that they’ve just tipped out of a live studio situation, high on the electricity of it all, like you could at a station near the end of the Central line!
I know. I need a reality check, times change, maybe it’s arrogant of me to think the people of Shepherds Bush care. TV production won’t stop because of this. The Grade II listed building was out dated and costly, and its inevitable end has been on the cards for years; I even made an internal film about the proposed move to Salford when no-one believed that would happen. BBC4’s tribute last week was uncomfortably white and male, silently highlighting that there is a desperate need for change in some areas.
But still, I wanted to point out, it’s not just the on-screen talent, actors, and BBC royalty who will miss this extraordinary workplace. That building, a melting pot of creativity, gave me some opportunities that I don’t think any other building could ever offer. After all, where else would you sit next to Jeremy Paxman on your work experience lunch break?