2013 was a momentous year of firsts for the BBC’s redeveloped Broadcasting House. For the first time, over 5,500 staff from the BBC’s News, Radio, Television and Online services were brought together under one roof in the most advanced digital broadcast and production centre in the world, following a 10 year programme of restoration and redevelopment.
In January, BBC World News became the first continuous television service to broadcast from its new studio facilities in Broadcasting House; and in March, the News Channel and BBC One news bulletins went live for the first time from their new central newsroom studio.
March also saw BBC Tours launch the first of their daily tours of Broadcasting House. Since then, over 50,000 visitors have booked onto a tour of the new complex to see their BBC in action and have a go at being in front of the camera – as news presenters, weather forecasters and radio actors.
In April, I took up the role as the first Manager of the W1 complex.
In June, Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the major new extension of BBC’s Broadcasting House. Although this was not the Queen’s first visit to Broadcasting House, it was the first visit by the Queen to Radio 1’s Live Lounge and the first time the Queen had declared a BBC building open live, on air, during a specially commissioned programme on Radio 4.
Other notable firsts in 2013 included the opening of a new BBC Shop based in the BBC Media Cafe; the first ever all female line-up presenting Radio 4’s Today Programme with presenters Sarah Montague and Mishal Husain, sports presenter Alison Mitchell and newsreader Corrie Corfield; hosting the first Wintershall Nativity play ever to be performed in central London on the piazza outside Broadcasting House, complete with a herd of sheep, a donkey and the Angel Gabriel bringing glad tidings from above; and winning the “Programme of the Year” industry award for the first time at the annual Association of Project Management Awards for the successful delivery of the Broadcasting House project.
And 2014 is already shaping up to be another year of memorable firsts.
On 6 January, Kylie Minogue and Will.i.am joined presenters Matt Baker and Alex Jones for the first broadcast of The One Show, BBC One’s flagship topical magazine programme, from its brand new ground level studios at Broadcasting House. Other One Show guests to have performed on the piazza for the first time include the stars of Strictly Come Dancing, Elsie the Fire-breathing Dragon and 14 Elvis Presley impersonators. And don’t miss Mary Beard playing human hopscotch across World with its artist Mark Pimlott.
And there is still so much more to look forward to this year. In March, Sport Relief will attempt to “Run the World”; and we look forward to welcoming thousands more visitors to Broadcasting House, whether as a programme guest, an audience member or on a BBC Tour, which from February will include a visit to The One Show studios. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news and events, stay tuned to the Broadcasting House website.
Andy Baker is W1 Manager