Blue Peter garden not included
June 19, 2011 5:25 PM   Subscribe

The iconic BBC Television Centre is up for sale. Reaction is not muted.

Charlie Brooker pokes fun at the sales website's awkward marketing-speak:
[E]nough to make anyone with one ounce of nostalgia about television want to weep.

On one page, alongside a photograph of Morecambe and Wise smiling in front of TV Centre, is the headline "Prime Time". Below this, the following words: "The 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show was the essence of prime time . . . With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a lack of landmark sites available, now is the prime time to invest in the future of Television Centre."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (25 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Brooker is right about how grotty Television Centre is inside, but this is our history we're pissing away. I know I'm a sentimentalist about the BBC, but it is the best thing any empire has ever made, and a bunch of cunts in shiny suits are ripping it apart like Yahoos taking razors to a whale.
posted by howfar at 5:41 PM on June 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


This hurts a surprising amount.
posted by jaduncan at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2011


Metafilter: a bunch of cunts in shiny suits (ripping it apart like Yahoos taking razors to a whale)
posted by lalochezia at 5:44 PM on June 19, 2011


howfar is absolutely right. At least though, "Since the most iconic sections of Television Centre – the main 'doughnut' and Studio One – were granted listed status in 2009, they can't be demolished."

so that's something... I suppose.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:44 PM on June 19, 2011


I'm gutted over this, it's a landmark and as howfar says, one legacy that we can actually be proud of.

Television Centre features the famous Blue Peter garden where some of Blue Peter's celebrated pets are memorialised. The new Blue Peter garden will be located on the roof of the studio block at MediaCityUK, plans for which are currently under discussion.

I hope they are going to relocate the pets rather than let them be dug up and chucked in a skip.
posted by arcticseal at 5:48 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


From another article: "Mark Gatiss, the writer of Sherlock, tweeted: 'A black, black day. As soon as #TV Centre has gone, a new report will no doubt recommend the building of a 'sort of HQ' for the BBC'."
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:50 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Know what would help augment the Beeb's funds a fair bit without requiring them to sell off landmarks like this? Let me pay the goddamn license fee to watch/listen to it online. A non-zero amount of Americans and I bet a fair amount of the commonwealth would be happy to.

You folk in the UK have no idea how good you have it.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:57 PM on June 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's been total horror about this shooting back and forth around the net since it was revealed, and I've been totally bemused. I grew up watching stuff produced there as much as anyone did, but I just cannot bring myself to care. It's not the BBC, it's a building.

I mean, if this actually turns out to be the short-sighted and money-wasting rather than money-saving move many are predicting then yeah, totally, it's stupid and destructive. But if they stop hanging on to a big lump of building and that really does allow them to make more good television, the only reason everyone's getting misty about the BBC in the first place, then it's got my vote. If I had a vote.

Being confronted with nostalgia always makes me feel like such an alien. I just don't do nostalgia. I don't even really comprehend it, I think.
posted by emmtee at 6:03 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Sherlock, when is it coming back?
posted by vidur at 6:30 PM on June 19, 2011


emmtee, the studios at Television Centre are a profit making part of the BBC. That might mean something to you. But what means something to me is not nostalgia, it's the belief that you don't just rip down iconic buildings, places of value and worth, because the market indicates a better expenditure of money. We don't tear down cathedrals and replace them with preachers on pick-up trucks. We don't sell off art galleries and issue a big bunch of free picture postcards with the money. It's just not that simple.

Having said this, if there were cast iron financial case for selling BBC Television Centre, I'd be upset, but I'd deal with it. I don't believe there is any such case, and I don't believe that such a case is a reason for the decision. The BBC has been put on the run by successive governments who have allied themselves with the partisan print media against our relatively impartial broadcast media. Selling Television Centre is the latest in a long run of missteps by the quarry in a long and inglorious chase.

If this were a decision made when the BBC was not being hammered from every possible direction, you might have a point. But it is, and the sale of Television Centre means something bad, whether you want to believe it or not.
posted by howfar at 6:39 PM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Know what would help augment the Beeb's funds a fair bit without requiring them to sell off landmarks like this? Let me pay the goddamn license fee to watch/listen to it online. A non-zero amount of Americans and I bet a fair amount of the commonwealth would be happy to.

You folk in the UK have no idea how good you have it.


Isn't worrying that selling off Television Centre is symbolic of destroying or undermining the BBC (which is sort of what this is about, as I understand it) knowing how good you have it?

Assuming the cost weren't prohibitive, I'd happily pay the licence fee for overseas access to the iPlayer, but the whole 'British television is so much better' meme gets to me. Sure, I can happily watch crap on British television for hours on end--I'm more culturally attuned to it or whatever--but that doesn't make it objectively better, just different. Britain's busy being envious of the Wire and Mad Men and whatever else. (There's probably some convoluted mess about opening up the iPlayer overseas--it'd cut into the money BBC Worldwide could get, which, according to Wiki, is 25% of the BBC's funding (the licence fee being the other 75%), so it'd have to balance that out.)
posted by hoyland at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2011


There is an outright war going on among the elite class in the UK between those who wish to destroy the BBC and all it stands for and those who wish to preserve it. Destroying Telly Centre (as we called it when I used to work in the much uglier BBC White City building up the road) is clearly a major victory for those in the former group, a few of whom, I have long suspected, have deliberately infiltrated the BBC at its highest levels in order to oversee its dismantlement.

A major landmark institution like the BBC cannot be abolished in one go. First you have to get rid of the physical landmarks (TV Centre would not be the first; nor will it be the last). Then you have more leverage to remove statutory landmarks such as the licence fee. In the end, even if an organisation named 'BBC' remains in some form, you'll get to normalise British media back down to the non-threatening level that the Murdochs and the Berlusconis of this world (to say nothing of the Bushes, Putins and Camerons) would wish to impose on us.
posted by motty at 6:53 PM on June 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


the whole 'British television is so much better' meme gets to me

I'm well aware that there's tons of terrible BBC (and other UK TV) content. If nothing else, Charlie Brooker's various Screenwipes have shown me that. And I'm well aware that the US makes some great television as well.

Even so, I would love to have a government-funded series of television and radio (especially radio) programming with a BBC-like remit here in my country (the big one across the pond. No, not that one, the slightly smaller one,) and even the small amount of BBC programming that DOES make it over to my side of the ocean earns the license fee, IMO.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Were I some sort of Tory bastard attempting to dismantle the BBC from within, this might seem a neat way to direct all the save-the-BBC fervour: encourage loss of beloved structure in tough financial times, rub hands evilly as the 'save Television Centre' campaign gains steam, let the population think they've won a battle against BBC cuts when what they've actually done is spent all their time and energy keeping the organisation saddled with a sentimental money-sink. Meanwhile, axes out in the background.

That's if it actually is a sentimental money-sink. I have no fucking idea whether it is or not, but that's my point - neither do the vast majority of people to whom this is an emotional gut-punch and who are tweeting 'save Television Centre' right now. We don't have the information to judge. If someone can show me evidence that losing the place will hurt the quality of drama, journalism, radio and so on, I will be right there with the loudest shouters against the sale. But the hammering of the BBC is happening, and as much as I'd love to be in the version of the UK where they aren't being forced to decide between their iconic buildings and their creative and journalistic output, apparently this is the one where they are.
posted by emmtee at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2011


W12 8QT
.
posted by scruss at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Were I some sort of Tory bastard

This is not a question of party politics. There are significant groups in both major parties that despise the BBC, because the BBC is actually fairly impartial.

if it actually is a sentimental money-sink. I have no fucking idea whether it is or not

There is no argument being made that TV Centre is a money sink. The BBC budget is, in real terms, being slashed. There will be a 16% cut in funding over the period of the licence fee freeze. The sale of TV Centre will patch a tiny hole in this, and leave the BBC significantly less well equipped as a producer and broadcaster of programmes.

being forced to decide between their iconic buildings and their creative and journalistic output

We aren't simply upset about the sale of a building, and it's either naive or disingenuous to pretend that we are. We're upset about a government policy which has the intent of systematically dismembering the BBC. If we don't call out against the significant effects of that policy, how are we meant to express our disgust?
posted by howfar at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a shitload of money to be made (re)privatising industries and works. You have to begin by convincing the general public that the only true measure of activity is profit. This can take some time, but it is well worth the investment. And once the dismantling is legally permissible, you can begin hawking component parts off to the highest bidders/best propagandists, who can then assert a monopoly and dissolve services deemed unprofitable or inadvisable.

We all still seem locked into a Victorian delusion of continuing progress. It's evidently hard to believe that there are folks out there who know that privatising, say, water supply, will most emphatically not work out in the public's best interest. And really, really don't care.
posted by likeso at 8:25 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


vidur: Speaking of Sherlock, when is it coming back?

Season Two will air this autumn. It's going to be three ninety-minute episodes again.

Episode Two, "The Hounds of Baskerville" (yes, that's what they've titled it) is already in the can--it was filmed over the past 2-3 weeks. They're currently shooting Episode One, "A Scandal in Belgravia" (yes, again, that's the title), and then they shoot Episode Three, "The Reichenbach Fall." Then Martin Freeman flies back to New Zealand to continue being even shorter than he already is.
posted by tzikeh at 8:57 PM on June 19, 2011


Season Two will air this autumn. It's going to be three ninety-minute episodes again.

Thanks. I wish they'd do more episodes though, and that it comes to Oz at the same time as UK.
posted by vidur at 11:50 PM on June 19, 2011


You know, if the UK had any rich bastards who weren't complete, em, bastards, this would be a great opportunity for one of them to buy the building and then put it in trust for the nation.

That wouldn't be an inconceivable idea in the US, but...
posted by GeckoDundee at 12:29 AM on June 20, 2011


The worst programs on the BBC are still better than the average show on broadcast television here in the States.

Watching the BBC being torn down, brick by brick, saddens me in so many ways.
posted by Not The Stig at 5:43 AM on June 20, 2011


It's important to point out that the TVC building is being sold no matter what. However (from what I understand) the question is what will happen to the building and land *after* it is sold. Will it be remain substantially intact, or will it be demolished for new buildings? Either way, you can be pretty sure that it'll turn into a mix of apartments and shops; but they might get more money if it can be demolished. Of course, parts of it are listed so that just may not be possible.

Having done quite a bit of work with the beeb, I don't think it's feasible for the building to stay the same; it's a total nightmare to get around and you'd pretty much need to knock down all the internal structure to make it particularly useful and attractive. It would be real shame if the land just sat around unused and the building fell apart, which is what happens with some listed buildings. So on balance, if they can get a lot more cash by knocking it down, they should go ahead.

Of course, this windfall wouldn't help the beeb much in the long term, for all sorts of strategic and inefficiency reasons which are too lengthy and depressing to go into here.
posted by adrianhon at 6:26 AM on June 20, 2011


The sale of TV Centre will patch a tiny hole in this
How much is this Salford exodus costing them? Speaking as a huge fan of the BBC, that seems like a woeful idea.
posted by bonaldi at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2011


"The BBC has been put on the run by successive governments who have allied themselves with the partisan print media"

'Allied with' being a polite way of saying 'either in the pocket of, or in craven fear of, the partisan print media.'
posted by reynir at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2011


I know this is horribly crude and simplistic, but fuck Murdoch, fuck Cameron and fuck the Clegg he rode in on.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


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