“Auntie” honoured in recommendation to list parts of BBC television centre
English Heritage has advised the Minister for Culture Media and Sport to recognise the extraordinary cultural and architectural significance of BBC Television Centre at White City, Wood Lane, London, and list parts of it at grade II.
Peter Beacham, Heritage Protection Director for English Heritage, said: “This building is not just architecturally important. As one of the first purpose-built television studios in the world, it represents the moment when Britain led Europe into the television age. The BBC itself is an important part of our British identity and Television Centre has acquired an iconic presence.
“The nation has an immense fondness for this building and what it represents for our culture. We all feel we know areas such as the Blue Peter garden and the studios where people have watched significant moments in broadcasting over the last 50 years: from early Doctor Who to Top of the Pops, Terry Wogan and Children in Need.
“We know the BBC is rightly proud of their building and their heritage, and we are enthusiastically working with them to make sure that marking TV Centre’s national importance will not affect its ability to adapt to changing technology or new uses. We are glad that, following the current Heritage Protection Bill, we will be able to put in place a modern type of designation that involves a Heritage Partnership Agreement. This will make sure that the site remains just as flexible, despite being of undeniable national interest and one of very few monuments to television history.”
English Heritage has assigned special interest only to the very best parts. These are the scenery workshops, with its barrel-vaulted ceiling and rows of circular rooflights; the light and airy 1950s canteen that overlooks the Blue Peter garden; and the distinctive circular drum that houses offices and the main studios. This has some very good 1950s design and architectural features including dazzling mosaics, a gilded sculpture of Helios in the centre of the drum and the familiar pattern of atom-like discs on the front.
Two other sites that are already listed to value this part of our broadcasting culture are Alexandra Palace, where the world’s first TV programme came from, and 22 Frith St in Soho, where JL Baird demonstrated television transmission in 1926.