The official definition of CLOSURE?
1. The act of closing or shutting something
2. The bringing to the end of something / a conclusion
BBC TV Centre has such a special place in so many of our hearts. Pretty much - if you grew up in the UK you'll have spent much of your childhood sending in letters for competitions and routinely seeing your favourite presenters running around the building. A pretty special place!
Aside from whether you worked at the place, everyone has memories of it. Whether watching your favourite Blue Peter presenters driving all kind of random vehicles up the “ring road” and into the studios! Or knowing you had to send your competition entries to “BBC TV Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ”! Or watching record breaking attempts in the “Donut” underneath the Helios statue!
For me, BBC TV Centre has always been special. As a 70’s kid, I used to watch programmes made there and found the whole TV concept pretty magical. I used to dream of presenting Blue Peter as it was one of the few places I saw girls doing cool things which, back then, were deemed “boys things” like jumping out of planes and driving fast cars. As a tomboy, this seemed like my dream job! And so, the journey began.
When I told my careers adviser as a teenager that I wanted to present Blue Peter she gave a wry smile and then said “But what do you REALLY want to do”? I know, right?! It was the first time anyone had pointed out how unlikely I was to succeed with my endeavour, which made my desire even greater! And so, after working on a Kibbutz in Israel and finding my mojo and confidence on a gap year, the journey began in earnest.
Aged 19 and having started to work at my local BBC Radio station to get experience, I used to travel up to London from my home in the burbs and visit the Blue Peter studio. Travelling from the countryside to the big smoke was always a brave move for my 19 year old self and I’d stand with a copy of the script and watch Anthea Turner, John Leslie and Diane louise Jordan rehearsing on the studio floor, dreaming!
Aged 20 and I spent my Saturday mornings answering the phones on Going Live in TC-3 (studio 3) and I remember plucking up the courage to tell Sarah Greene I thought she was amazing when I bumped into her in the loos! We laugh about it now!
Aged 21 I taught myself to type so that I could work as Assistant to the Controller of BBC-1 and Assistant to the Head of Children’s programmes. I used to spend WAY longer than I should, hand delivering internal mail, just so I could hang out in the studio galleries and watch all the presenters at work! I made some great friends, like the lovely Toby Anstis, who I still see at HeartFM now.
Aged 24, and after years of working at the BBC all week and moonlighting on Nickelodeon at weekends, I became Blue Peter’s 22nd presenter and made my on-screen debut in TC-1.
For the next 6 years, I lived the dream!
TV Centre was such a fun place to work – you never knew what was going to be going on in the studios. They were wonderful years and I got to work with some lovely presenters – Stuart Miles, Diane-Louise Jordan, Tim Vincent, Richard Bacon, Konnie Huq, Matt Baker, Simon Thomas, Romana D’Annunizio.
Then, aged 30, I started working on Live & Kicking out of TC- 3. Our Friday rehearsals were always so much fun, then early starts on a Saturday morning, to be on air for 3 adrenalin-filled hours – live from 9 am. I made some wonderful friends in the shape of Sarah Cawood, Ortis Deley and some bloke called Trey Farley (!) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Top of The Pops, Eurovision, Tomorrows World, Holiday – I presented on all of them out of TV Centre and even won a BAFTA whilst working there. Then, even after moving on to pastures new, I’d often head back to the place visit friends for lunch.
For me, TV Centre was a bit like the family home you grew up in; Somewhere you didn’t visit all the time, but a constant in your life which you knew would be the same every time you returned. It always gave me a strange sense of “belonging” and I always just took it for granted that it would be there for me to re-visit and get nostalgic whenever I wanted, like a faithful old friend.
And then it got sold.
And between it getting sold and everyone moving out, I didn’t manage to visit the place to say “goodbye”. I surprised myself at how gutted I felt to realise it had gone and I had no way of visiting ever again. A huge chapter of my life was gone and it really threw me, more than I ever imagined it would. Then I got a phone call. A video was being made – The Future of TV Centre – and, given my heritage and the fact that I’d worked there in many capacities, they’d LOVE me to front it. Quicker than you could say “ACTION” it was a yes from me, and I was there! I even got to spend a wonderful day with one of my mates from my BP days – Alison – which made it even more perfect.
And so I got to say a proper goodbye to a place that had played such a key role in my life. I was like a kid in a toy shop! The familiar smells, the sights, the way I knew my way around the metropolis like I was only there yesterday – it was beyond cathartic. I felt like I got to properly close my chapter on teh TV Centre as it had been - as it morphed into the one we know now in 2021.
Having been a part of its heritage and then reporting on it's re-birth, attending the launch of Soho House White City House felt all kinds of appropriate and it was amazing to catch up with so many friends from my TV world.
TV Centre was such a part of my heritage, having worked there for years as a PA to the Controller of BBC1 and then, subsequently, as a presenter – getting to stay the night with my boy – when that’s where we met? A-MAZING!
The following night Trey was producing the BAFTA Game Awards – as he does every year. SO proud of my man and it’s amazing when you see all the hard work in front of your eyes!
Look how those Live & Kicking presenters grew up, hey?! So much fun!