Return of the TVC history makers

Television CEntre in the 1960s

BBC people have been saying farewell to Television Centre in a variety of ways ahead of its closure this weekend.

More than 1300 past and present employees packed into studios four, five and six for a party last week.

One hundred and fifty staff heel step toed their way around the building in an homage to Roy Castle's record breaking tap dance at TVC in the 1970s.

The lucky few joined members of the public for a Madness concert in the horseshoe car park as part of BBC Four's tribute evening.

And Vernon Kay allegedly tried to pilfer a part of Telly Centre for sentimentality's sake.

Trolleys of wigs
Craft experts photo shoot at Television Centre Craft experts remember royal visits and 'fork lunches'

The £200m sale to developers of the purpose built broadcasting centre has also triggered a wave of reunions, with former staff drawn to the building where they worked on so many memorable programmes.

They include more than 80 craft experts who travelled from all over the country to link up with former colleagues. Hair, costume and make-up designers, visual effects maestros, prop buyers and scenic painters from Design Group reminisced about everything from trundling trolleys full of wigs along the corridors to enjoying a 'fork lunch' on the 'hallowed' seventh floor.

Start Quote

You never knew what celebrity you might meet in the lift. I will never forget having a set of doors held open for me by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore”

End Quote Joan Stribling Hair, Make-UP and Prosthetics Designer

'Royalty would come to visit and see us at work,' says Joan Stribling, a Bafta winning hair, make-up and prosthetics designer who organised the gathering. 'You never knew what celebrity you might meet in the lift. I will never forget having a set of doors held open for me by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.'

Stribling spent 21 years at the BBC where she worked on everything from Alice in Wonderland and The Legend of King Arthur to The Old Grey Whistle Test and Blue Peter.

'Progress, I suppose'

'TVC was a special place to work,' she believes. 'It was a hub of creative activity. The breadth of programme-making was astonishing. It was a real buzz to work there.'

While saddened by its closure, she's heartened by the fact that some of the studios will open once again for programme making.

'It's progress, I suppose,' she adds. 'Lime Grove staff might have felt the same when TVC was being built.'

Tech Ops reunion at TV Centre Tech Ops plump for a similar backdrop for their group shot

Earlier this month, around 120 former technical folk came together for a photoshoot, tour of TVC and lunch and a last beer at the BBC Club.

'For the first time in many years, those who worked in the golden age of Television Centre walked again in the places where they helped to make British television history,' Bernard Newnham, former presentation producer and cameraman, tells Ariel.

Newnham arrived at TVC in 1966 as a 19 year-old camera assistant. He went on to operate a camera on Jackanory, drive a camera crane on Blue Peter, make trails for Presentation, produce Points of View and make documentaries. He left the Corporation in 2001 as a senior producer.

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I saw the best of TC - the years when you could walk from studio to studio and there was a production in every one, every day”

End Quote Bernard Newnham Former Producer
Cybermen and Wehrmacht

'I saw the best of TC - the years when you could walk from studio to studio and there was a production in every one, every day,' he reflects.

'The corridors, especially the one on the ground floor, thronged with people - production staff, actors, technicians. A group of cybermen followed by half the Werhmacht, and policemen who might have been real on Blue Peter or extras on Dixon of Dock Green. Television Centre was where a large part of British television history was made, and I'm proud to have been a small part of it.'

He blames politics for the building's demise, with the BBC building 'more and more studios around the country that they couldn't fill without taking programmes from Television Centre'.

'It's good to hear that they aren't flattening the place, and the plans look like someone cares,' he concedes. 'But away will go the studios - 4 to 7 - where I worked on Morecambe and Wise, Softly Softly, The Black and White Minstrel Show, Top of the Pops, endless sit-coms, and much much more. Rentaghost used to be in TC4 - I wonder if the new flats will be haunted?'

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