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The last broadcast from Bush House
July 12, 2012 2:26 AM   Subscribe

Today marks the end of an era as the BBC World Service broadcasts for the last time from its longtime home at Bush House.

Since March, the BBC World Service has been gradually shifting its operations from Bush House, its home since 1940. The central newsroom will be the last to leave, broadcasting the final 5 minute newscast at 1100 GMT today, followed the next day by the start of an auction of the remaining BBC assets in the building -- everything from clocks to desks to pianos to entire studios. (The auction will take place online; the phase 1 catalogue is already available, and will be followed by phase 2 in August.)

This move is part of the BBC's W1 project to redevelop one of its historic facilities -- Broadcasting House -- into a facility housing all BBC news and radio operations, a project plagued by controversial overruns and met with tepid architectural reviews.
posted by orthicon halo (38 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
All part of one of the bigger boondoggles ever, the spending of billions of pounds in addressing the nutty politics of having a single financial/media/cultural/political capital and then having to apologise for it.

Highlighted by having to ship Gary Lineker up to Salford to comment on football matches played in Wembley.

Not to say that some dispersal of investment around Britain wouldn't be a good idea, and using resources to redevelop places isn't a nice goal, but completely consolidating so much of the BBC outside London has gone too far and is a complete waste of money, meanwhile they are cutting 20% of budgets and threaten some aspect of the public broadcasting mission every week, either BBC4 or BBC6 or something else that the commercial sector won't produce.
posted by C.A.S. at 2:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Today marks the end of an era as the BBC World Service broadcasts for the last time

OH MYGOD NO

....from its longtime home at Bush House.

Oh. Whew.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:00 AM on July 12, 2012 [14 favorites]




That's Bvsh House, shurely.

Sorry to see the building go from the BBC. The next tenant will be lucky. It's gem of a building, albeit on a rather unlovely roundabout.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:08 AM on July 12, 2012


Also, today will be the last day that any BBC anchors broadcast while wearing trousers, but you won't be able to tell that either.
posted by XMLicious at 3:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, today will be the last day that any BBC anchors broadcast while wearing trousers, but you won't be able to tell that either.

This is from the earlier, more extreme cut plans. Now it's just 20% cuts it's just no more World Service cummerbunds.
posted by jaduncan at 3:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The BBC World Service broadcast on NPR this morning tried to close with a feed from Bush House, with a BBC staffer interviewing an 85-year-old former BBC editor. About 90 seconds into it, the sound started cutting in and out, and then after a minute more it dropped out entirely.

The host came into fill the rest of the few minutes left, explaining that the circuitry in Bush House had gone wonky and cut the feed, and then dryly observed "this explains why we're moving, in part."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's Bvsh House, shurely.

BVSH HOVSE, yov mvst mean.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


This makes me strangely sad.
I can't explain it.
posted by Mezentian at 4:21 AM on July 12, 2012


Goodbye Bush House
posted by inigo2 at 4:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This makes me strangely sad.
I can't explain it.


It makes me sad because it's part of the gutting of the iconic elements of the BBC, a major British (and, in this case, global) institution.
posted by jaduncan at 4:49 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fall of the house of Bvsh.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:54 AM on July 12, 2012


From what I gathered from the article, it seems they are also gutting expertise and in-depth knowledge and that the process has already begun some time ago. That's far worse than any moving to some building, is FoxNewsification of BCC going on?
posted by elpapacito at 5:11 AM on July 12, 2012


But it's just a building.
A sexy, sexy building, but just a building that was probably ill-suited for the modern era.

I heard an interview with the guy designing the new building and... ugh. I did not like him instantly.

I wish I had spent more time gazing at Bush House and the TV Centre when I was in London.
posted by Mezentian at 5:16 AM on July 12, 2012


It's welcomed as it's part of a larger move which will see the BBC more equitably spread through out England. Allowing everybody better access to national media is a goal which cannot be ignored. Ending the concentration of it's activities in London is long long overdue, and will lead to lower costs in the longrun. I don't know anybody who has ever been to or in Bush House, but I know plenty who have been to Salford Quays and a few who enjoy the prospect of at last being able to attend live shows there.
posted by Jehan at 5:27 AM on July 12, 2012


Everybody read inigo2's link. Its an essay by Claire Bolderson (recently retired World Service presenter).
posted by ocherdraco at 5:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Claire Bolderson (recently retired World Service presenter).

She retired?
WHERE CAN I HEAR HER VOICE NOW?

It kept me company on so many drives.
posted by Mezentian at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2012


Maybe it's not architecturally pleasing , and maybe it cost too much ( although the overruns are not unusual for this kind of major project ), but at least the W1 newsroom is visionary in its designed attempt to foster a new kind of cross-platform integrated journalism that's flexible enough for this turbulent era in news production
posted by Bwithh at 7:12 AM on July 12, 2012


RE: Claire B.: "Bolderson tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that she’s not sure what she’ll do next, but she may take on more of a voice." (http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/03/20/claire-bolderson-bbc)

Also, she is publishing "letters" on a blog (http://clairebolderson.com/blog/), but no mention of where to hear her. You could email her, I bet. I would love to know what she says!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2012


The BBC spreading out across the country is a wonderful project and is exactly what public service broadcasting should do.

As a resident of the second largest city in the UK (which has recently had all its radio and factual TV production axed) it does amuse me the sense of horror from the metropolitan elites that they might have to go and work in the 'regions'.
posted by brilliantmistake at 7:43 AM on July 12, 2012


As a resident of the second largest city in the UK (which has recently had all its radio and factual TV production axed) it does amuse me the sense of horror from the metropolitan elites that they might have to go and work in the 'regions'.

Almost everything that matters in the UK is in or near London, and so is most of the expertise. There's something to be said for a centre of excellence.
posted by jaduncan at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2012


Highlighted by having to ship Gary Lineker up to Salford to comment on football matches played in Wembley.

I kno rite? It's not like they ever have to ship Alan Hansen down to Shepherd's Bush to commentate on Merseyside derbies?


Almost everything that matters in the UK is in or near London, and so is most of the expertise. There's something to be said for a centre of excellence.


It's only a 'centre' because everything else is here, and in order to survive other companies need to stay here. And it depends what you mean by 'everything that matters' - I could give you a ton of examples of things that didn't happen here, from splitting the first atom to splitting the first E. It's not healthy for one city to dominate, and it isn't correct, either. London is very different from other parts of the UK in lots of ways, and that ignores what's going on elsewhere.

but completely consolidating so much of the BBC outside London has gone too far and is a complete waste of money

Funnily enough, the 90% of the population that live outside London don't agree with you. The media has been irritatingly London-centric since they switched on the transmitters. It's bad for people in The Regions (ick) who want to work in or get their voices heard by the media because they have to leave families behind or work two or three jobs to live in a flatshare in Barnet, it's bad for costs as living and working in London is phenominally expensive, but it is good for TV salesmen as those living in Manchester, seeing the patronising caption 'North of England reporter', have to fight the urge to stove in their TV screens. The national broadcaster should represent the nation, and if it stays mostly in London (I live here and think it's an astonishingly provincial place at times) it can't do that.

Besides, they're moving the WS into Broadcasting House, which is still in London. I love the building, though. I went to meet a friend in the bar there after a job interview, and spent the evening sat next to a giant fish tank watching Persian Service reporters get upset at the results of the Michael Jackson sex trial.
posted by mippy at 8:23 AM on July 12, 2012


Oh man, that's sad. But not quite as sad as when they cut back on the playing of "Lilliburlero", or shut down my favorite radio show of all time, Bob Holness' "Anything Goes", in 1996. At least we still have "Sailing By". ...except that's on Radio 4. Never mind.
posted by ariel_caliban at 8:26 AM on July 12, 2012


Nothing wrong with the regions, England (and the UK) are full of wonderful cities, landscapes, and culture. And I approve of dispersing resources and redeveloping other areas.

But spending 3-4 billion pounds in an environment where 20 percent budget cuts are being imposed means the supposed savings won't be seen for a generation. Plus, I can already see just how much expense is being incurred moving people up and down on trains and plains. Lots of it is just illogical, like having BBC Sport moved north when a great chunk of its work is in London.

Natural history, BBC Scotland, etc, Childrens, plenty of these had already existed outside London or been moved already.

At some point the public has to accept the existence of a capital and that there are reasons why the central base of the BBC should be in the capital, even as a sensible amount of the work gets moved out.

Freelance talent, say film editors or a cameraman is going to stay in London where there is a diversity of clients, and then get moved at expense out to work on projects they would have cycle commuted to rather than move to a regional place where they will work for Beeb and no one else. I can see this happening on a vast scale, its a waste of money.

And the jobs other than construction go to the same people, who then can drive up house prices and school places in Salford. The greatest benefit from the move goes to Virgin Trains.

They should spend the money developing new media, micro local media, etc throughout the country, increasing access to voices around England, without the top heavy capital intensive massive scale builds.
posted by C.A.S. at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2012


The move to Salford is actually very beneficial for freelance talent - it's probably the biggest employer outside London for media folk already. There's Granada (when the 2nd summer of love happened it took years for London to even notice - Granada were there from the start, and so it goes with any cultural/social movement in the NW) S4C productions within a commute, three or four large ad agencies and dozens of smaller ones, all of which require people to work on their ads, post-houses and other ancilliary services. The media doesn't stop at Watford services, though you'd be forgiven for expecting it did. I find the idea that sport, for example, should 'naturally' be at home in London astonishing. Of our national sports, one has a strong presence in the regions (football), one is played at various venues throughout England (cricket, but correct me if I'm wrong), and Rugby Union is played almost entirely across the North of England unless things have changed in the past five years.

And you're forgetting that most people starting out in their careers in London expect to never be able to buy their own house (£60k average deposit, which may well buy you a place outright in the commuter belt)- so those wanting to start families, say, will find such a move much more attractive - people I have worked with in London have moved out for that very reason. When I worked in radio in Manchester in 2005, and my contract ended, I just could not afford to make the move to London. Wasn't happening. There are thousands of people who have something to say and something different to offer who can't afford or whose circumstances won't allow a move to the capital, and redistributing where things take place means you will get a greater range of voices. I can't see how that can possibly be a bad thing. I never really saw or heard people from my background on national TV growing up, and I'm not particularly part of a minority group - if you're an Asian kid in Blackburn or Burnley you'll rarely see anything that talks about who you are and where you're from, because the London-based media concentrates on issues such as black-on-black knife crime (although the Standard thought it was a 'teenage craze', ta for that) and only ventures up north when there's a race riot.
posted by mippy at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2012


Thoughtful reply, and good points.

As for sport I was thinking in terms of BBC coverage, national team cricket about half, the Olympics, Wimbledon, national team rugby, national team football, the FA Cup final. Club football is obviously different, and sport is obviously nation wide but major public tv events are probably majority in London.

As for seeing one's self represented in media, that is a genuine challenge, but doesn't require the facilities to move.

A friend of mine runs a small agency outside Manchester, and has clients world-wide, but as they've been struggling lately his options are much more limited where he is then where he was.

I feel that change in the nature of media and some cultural change in the BBC might be as meaningful as the scale of the Salford move, but that's just my opinion.
posted by C.A.S. at 9:29 AM on July 12, 2012


Maybe, but you'd be surprised what gets missed with a London bias. As I said, those outside of London have wanted this for some time.

I work in advertising and much of the work I deal with is based in the north-west or Scotland. It's a sore point for regional agencies too - the London-centricism of the industry means a lot of good work outwith the capital gets overlooked. I

I live in London and it is very easy to forget or overlook what's happening elsewhere - when I go to visit my mum, I notice different clothing, different issues being discussed on the bus, different music being played out of cars (it's grime in London and happy hardcore/donk in Lancashire). I might be coming across as a chippy (exiled) Northerner, but where I come from 'pop-up shops' are the things that open in December to sell calendars and go out of business in January. It's not matters of national importance, more small cultural differences that get missed, and lead to things like, for example, the demonization of 'chavs' or stereotyping Glaswegians as neds with a switchblade in one hand and Buckfast in the other. It happens in newspapers as much as the BBC, but I suppose I think better of the Beeb for some reason.
posted by mippy at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2012


Almost everything that matters in the UK is in or near London, and so is most of the expertise. There's something to be said for a centre of excellence.
To reuse an old war song, "...it's there because it's there because it's there because it's there..." And yet do you even believe that yourself? Do you think the best universities in England are in London?
At some point the public has to accept the existence of a capital and that there are reasons why the central base of the BBC should be in the capital, even as a sensible amount of the work gets moved out.
London is known in geographical parlance as a "primate city". Technically, it's a city which is twice as big and important as the next biggest city. Plenty of countries don't have this, such as the US and Germany, to name but two. Further, it's actually harmful to a country and leads to an imbalanced economy. Not only is the BBC move good, but a complete distribution of London's assets is better, and would help the country no end. People who live in London like to think that stuff being there is good for the country, because it's accessible for "everybody", as though everybody really can get to London on anything like a regular basis.
As a resident of the second largest city in the UK (which has recently had all its radio and factual TV production axed) it does amuse me the sense of horror from the metropolitan elites that they might have to go and work in the 'regions'.
Is "regions" the new term? I thought it was "provinces"? Maybe we should just cut to the chase and call it "not-London-I'm-bored-now". I remember when Stephen Hilder was believed to have been murdered by parachute at an airfield in Lincolnshire. It was the first time such a thing had happened in England, and only the fifth time in the world. Of course, the correspondent did an "in the field" report from Lincolnshire Oxfordshire. Maybe they got lost?

You know, I want a divorce. I want London to fuck the fuck off and leave England alone.
posted by Jehan at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost everything that matters in the UK is in or near London, and so is most of the expertise.
This is quite the dumbest thing I have ever read.
posted by samofidelis at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost everything that matters in the UK is in or near London

I'm guessing you write for The Guardian.
posted by reynir at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2012


I'm guessing you write for The Guardian.
Most likely for their "The Northerner" blog.
posted by Jehan at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2012


So after hearing about Londoncentric media and how the provinces are being ignored, I went and tried to get a perspective on it.

Here is a cool map to compare

Is it really worth spending millions and millions to move out of the capital when there is nothing in the entire country more than a car drive away?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2012


I went on the World Service once. A reporter had my number, so they called me up and asked me some questions. They then asked me to come into the studios and appear on a live call-in. I wasn't too keen, but they said they'd send a taxi for me.

The taxi was late, so I arrived at Bush House just after six and had the gratifying experience of bein rushed through the doors. I was then taken through what I can only describe as a labyrinth - we went in an escalator, along corridors, even through an internal courtyard at one point. The place was small and pokey, and seemed to have every square inch filled. I'm not surprised they moved, even if the building was so iconic.
posted by The River Ivel at 1:30 PM on July 12, 2012


I live in London and it is very easy to forget or overlook what's happening elsewhere - when I go to visit my mum, I notice different clothing, different issues being discussed on the bus, different music being played out of cars (it's grime in London and happy hardcore/donk in Lancashire).

Wait, you're kidding about the donk, right? That's *still* going on? If so, can you point me to some remixes of "Call Me Maybe" or Goyte that have a bangin' donk on it? I'll need them for sonic warfare.
posted by stannate at 5:21 PM on July 12, 2012


I'm just freaked that Clare Bolderson retired. I luff her. If Owen Bennett Jones retires I will be adrift entirely.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:52 PM on July 12, 2012


Owen Bennett Jones makes everything interesting, without sounding overly smarmy.
But there will still be Stephen Sackur and Alan Johnston.

I've started listening to The Fifth Floor lately, and it has real potential, although it's very lumpy.
posted by Mezentian at 9:29 PM on July 12, 2012


Is it really worth spending millions and millions to move out of the capital when there is nothing in the entire country more than a car drive away?

That's a very American way of looking at things and I don't think it quite works. The UK is a very varied country culturally, ethnically and socially - the comparison is more like citing all the media in the US in New York and absolutely nothing anywhere else. (OK, that's not quite the case here, but I'm trying to come up with an analogy here, k?)

A lot of households in the UK don't drive, and a commute of more than an hour is seen as excessive. Plus, living within an hour of London isn't an advantage - house prices are high for that reason, and the train routes are insanely busy (I travel between Reading and London on a regular basis and there is barely standing room) and expensive (£40 return, something like £3K a year for a pass, which is a lot if you're junior staff). Are you seriously suggesting people would commute from Manchester, Leeds or Glasgow to London on a daily basis, especially in broadcasting when people are very unlikely to work regular hours or the same hours on a week to week basis? It's just not viable. Just as the expectation many industries have that you need to move to London to work within them doesn't work out for the majority of people, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds.

stannate - I haven't seen my nephew for a while but everything he played on his phone last time I saw him was aural napalm. It's weird - people who are huge down here like Wiley and Plan B are barely listened to but people you wouldn't recognise if they slapped you with a wet kipper are huge.
posted by mippy at 1:36 AM on July 13, 2012


NB I live in London, and there are lots of things I like about it but lots of things I don't like too, mainly its provincial sense of self-importance. Sadly, the concentration on this city means it's difficult for me to move back to Manchester (which I'd love to do, but I like my job), and that sucks, especially because it would be quite nice to buy my own place at some point in my life and be closer to family.
posted by mippy at 1:38 AM on July 13, 2012


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