High-profile names back petition to save TVC studios

Studio TC8 in 1999 TC8 has one foot in the grave

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A campaign led by Esther Rantzen is hoping to save the studios at Television Centre from demolition.

Five of the eight studios in TVC will be torn down by developers Stanhope PLC to make way for a boutique hotel, eateries and about 1000 new homes, subject to planning permission.

BBC Studios and Post Production will lease the three remaining studios (1, 2 and 3) from 2015. They will be refurbished and equipped with the latest technology, with the expectation that shows such as Strictly Come Dancing will return to TVC.

The BBC also has studios in Elstree and Bristol, which are part of the S&PP portfolio.

But the petition - which has attracted some recognisable names - argues that the TVC studios represent a 'national asset, paid for by the British public through the licence fee over many years'.

The petition adds that 'it would be a gross dereliction of the BBC's duty to the public to allow the demolition of any of these studios'.

David Jason, Michael Parkinson, Philip Schofield, Richard Wilson, Charlie Brooker and Alexander Armstrong are just some of the celebrities and personalities who have allowed their names to be used for the cause.

Rantzen, who is the campaign's spokesperson, says: 'Literally hundreds of spellbound tourists visited the Centre to feel the unique atmosphere of the eight historic studios, right up to the very moment when the lights went out and the doors were locked for good.

'Where will the next General Election programme be made? Where will Children in Need and Comic Relief come from?'

On the campaign's website, Parkinson says 'demolishing the studios is an act of vandalism'.

Actor Richard Wilson has 'happy memories' of studio 8, where One Foot in the Grave was recorded. 'Many more famous British sitcoms were developed in that space,' he comments on the website.

Bectu, the NUJ, Unite and Equity, among other organisations, are also supporting the campaign.

The campaigners are using social media to advance their cause, with a Twitter profile and Facebook page.

So far, the petition has attracted nearly 3000 signatories.

Consultation

Stanhope/BBC have been holding a period of consultation with the public about the development; the feedback would be used for the planning application.

Dominic Coles, the BBC's director of operations, says: 'The three guiding principles behind the sale of TVC were preserving the legacy of this iconic site, identifying a developer with proven capabilities to deliver major redevelopment projects and secure financing and maximising the value of the site for licence-fee payers.

'The BBC, together with its commercial subsidiary BBC Studios and Post Production, concluded that a footprint of Studios 1, 2 and 3 at the redeveloped Television Centre, combined with our other studio facilities in Elstree and Bristol, would represent the best overall position for the BBC Group.'

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