Broadcasting House

Broadcasting House

Broadcasting House is the headquarters and registered office of the BBC in Portland Place, London, England.

Architect George Val Myer designed the building in collaboration with the BBC's civil engineer, M T Tudsbery. The interiors are the work of the Australian-Irish architect Raymond McGrath. He set up and directed a team that included Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates and designed the vaudeville studio, the associated green and dressing rooms, and the dance and chamber music studios in a flowing Art Deco style. It was later said of his efforts that "the designs for the BBC gave the first real fillip to industrial design in England". Broadcasting House was officially opened on May 14, 1932 and is now grade II* listed.

At the front of the building are statues of Prospero and Ariel (from Shakespeare's "The Tempest") by Eric Gill. Their choice was fitting since Prospero was a magician, and Ariel, a spirit of the air, in which radio waves travel. There was, reportedly, controversy over some features of the statues when first built and they were said to have been subsequently modified. They were reported to have been sculpted by Gill as God and Man, rather than simply Prospero and Ariel, and that there is a small carved picture of a beautiful girl on the back part of Prospero's statue. Other sources claim that Gill intended them as God the Father and Son, as supported by the fact that the statue of Ariel has stigmata. Additional carvings of Ariel can be found on the building's exterior in many bas-reliefs [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Press Office - Broadcasting House, London|accessdate=2007-04-10] [cite web|url=|title=Exterior Sculptures - Broadcasting House in 1932|accessdate=2007-04-10] [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Radio 4 - Archive Hour - The Home of Radio |accessdate=2007-04-10] .

Current use

Broadcasting House is home to BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 7 and also houses the BBC Radio Theatre, where music and speech programmes (typically comedy for BBC Radio 4) are recorded in front of a studio audience. Next door in Western House is BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music and nearby on Great Portland Street in Yalding House is BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra. About 5 miles west in BBC Television Centre, London is the home base of BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. The BBC Asian Network is based in St Nicholas Place, Leicester, Leicestershire.

Renovation project

Broadcasting House is undergoing a major renovation. It was initially scheduled for completion in 2009/2010, but is now expected to be finished in 2011. As part of a reorganisation of BBC property, Broadcasting House is to become home to BBC News (both television and radio), which will move from the News Centre at Television Centre; national radio; and the BBC World Service, which will move from Bush House.

The main part of this plan involved the demolition of the two post-war extensions to the building in 2005 and the construction of a new building, to be equal in "architectural creativity", besides the existing structure. The design of the new extension was carried out by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard. A separate extension, named the Egton Wing, was completed in 2005 and bears similarities to the shape of the original building. A sculpture commissioned by the BBC has been added to the roof of the building in memory of the journalists who have died while working "in the field".

The original architects have since been sacked and replaced by the BBC for not agreeing to cost-related revisions (Sir Richard MacCormac was unwilling to sacrifice the quality of his design). [ [ BBC in political row after sacking leading architect | Media | The Observer ] ] While the rebuilding process is being undertaken many of the BBC Radio networks have moved to other buildings near Portland Place.

BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music have moved their studios from Broadcasting House to newly built studios in the adjoining Western House. [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Radio 2 - Western House the new studios|accessdate=2007-04-10]

Queen Elizabeth II visited Broadcasting House on 20 April 2006 as part of her 80th birthday celebrations and to open officially the redeveloped Broadcasting House.

The remaining work now involves refurbishment of the Radio Theatre and other studios around the building.

There is a rumour that a secret platform to the London Underground exists beneath Broadcasting House. [ [ "Underground History website, detailing the Broastcasting House platform rumours."] ] The building is situated above the Bakerloo line, which follows the path of Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Regent's Park. London Underground deny the rumour, claiming that no records of such a platform exist.

Journalists Memorial

A memorial, called "Breathing", has been built on the roof of Broadcasting House to commemorate journalists killed in the line of duty. The memorial consists of an illuminated 10m high column of glass featuring a poem by James Fenton. At 10pm every day the memorial shines a column of light into the sky. It was officially unveiled on the 16 June 2008 by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [ [ BBC News: Killed reporters' memorial opens] ] , and has been praised as "a fitting tribute" [cite news
title = In praise of... Breathing
publisher = The Guardian
date = Tuesday 17 June 2008
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-17
] .


External links

*|id=broadcastinghouse|title=Broadcasting House (redevelopment)
* [ BBC Press Office - Broadcasting House]
* [ History of the BBC - Broadcasting House]
* [ BBC Radio 4 documentary on Broadcasting House, broadcast 18 March 2006, entitled "The Home of Radio" on The Archive Hour]
* [ Broadcasting House - a potted history]
* [ Broadcasting House in 1932]
* [ Article on construction of the facade to the redevelopment]

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