Last Bush bulletin leaves staff in tears
The applause was prolonged, the hugs heartfelt and the tears irresistible as well wishers crammed into offices outside the third floor studio to witness, photograph and celebrate the final broadcast from Bush House.
Staff brought their children to the historic event, while retired employees returned with their memories as Iain Purdon read the World Service midday bulletin with customary poise.
The five-strong bulletins team are the last journalists to make the move from Bush - home to the World Service since 1941 - to their new base alongside BBC News colleagues at New Broadcasting House.
In many respects, the last five minute bulletin was unremarkable. Purdon told listeners around the world about protests over a new German law against the circumcision of infant boys, about the first Saudi Arabian women to compete at the Olympics and about a Taliban attack on police in Pakistan.
But he went on to reveal the significance of that lunchtime's broadcast, introducing a specially recorded despatch by Mark Thompson.
The director general hailed Bush House as 'an enduring beacon of truth and objectivity in a troubled world' which had been home to 'so many great broadcasters over the years'.
Purdon signed off with an assurance to audiences that 'the World Service and the news goes on… Just not from here'.
Peter Horrocks, director of global news, offered his reassurance afterwards to the sombre assembly. He said that while the architecture, history and grandeur of Bush would be missed, its essence would prevail. 'We're going to take that flame, that care for our journalism and our words, and take that to the new building.'
He commended the final piece of output which, he said, had been 'delivered brilliantly' by Purdon. 'The emotion was there in every word, in every pause… we all felt that the writing and the production were to the highest possible standards.'
Andrew Whitehead, WS head of news and current affairs, attempted to lift the mood, declaring the occasion 'a celebration, not a wake'.
'Bush House means so much to us,' he conceded. 'It's a big part of who we are and what we do.' But NBH had one advantage - 'it's designed for the job we do.'
End Quote Andrew Whitehead Head of News and Current Affairs, World Service
Bush House means so much to us. It's a big part of who we are and what we do.”
Iain Purdon, the announcer at the heart of proceedings, told Ariel why Bush House had been such a special place to work. 'It's like a mix of being at the best university in the world and in the United Nations. The cream of journalists, writers and intellectuals were gathered in Bush House and insulated from the rest of the BBC. We didn't think about the rest of the BBC; we thought about our mission to discover truth and tell it to the rest of the world.'
He insisted that his spotlight role was 'just the way the rota fell', but said he was not distracted by the unusual attention. 'The whole thing about radio is that it's one to one,' he explained. 'You never lose track of that and everything else is peripheral.'
And he couldn't decide whether reading out Bush House was a privilege or not. 'In one way I feel it was an honour; in another I feel that I drew the short straw. Nobody wants to close a theatre down and I feel that I've just done that.'