There are times when working at the BBC can be a surreal experience -usually when a cropped version of the world just outside the front doors is relayed across the corporation’s own TV and radio networks.
Be it the resignation of a Director-General outside a building you walk in and out of occasionally, or observing Children in Need volunteers trundling up and down Wood Lane with trolley loads of appeal night goodies, suddenly the line between real and fantasy gets a little more difficult to determine.
And yet, the BBC as a workplace isn’t that different from any other. It's quite normal here, really. Here are ten personal observations illustrating why working here is as normal as anywhere else.
1. My colleagues talk about cake … a lot. Usually around 3pm a cry goes up ‘Anyone want tea?’ The inevitable conversation about availability of cake follows. During the Great British Bake Off the frequency (and intensity) of the conversation increases. The home-bakers in the team sometimes bring their artisan wares for intra-team tasting. Some of us less successful bakers have been known to hasty trips to the local supermarket, buy a cake and discard the box on the way back to the office in an attempt to pass them off as their own.
2. Baking talk often develops into further discussions about cooking in general. Masterchef: The Professionals is the present water-cooler programme of choice. We have one real-life masterchef on the team who would undoubtedly wipe the floor with the other competitors if only the rules didn’t stop her from entering the competition.
3. Ours is a messy office on the top floor of the grey and uninspiring White City building. Most occupants of the White City building in West London have moved out either to New Broadcasting House in Central London or over to the nearby Broadcast Centre in the W1 Media Village.
Few are terribly keen on the surroundings: they don’t match the perception of the brand we work for or look anything like the shiny headquarters in central London or the bright colourful interior of BBC North. No tears will be shed when the last members of staff move out of here.
Whilst we don’t want to appear like we’re complaining, there’s considerable doubt the austere-looking White City building will ever reach the 5-star retreat status of a property near Evesham previously owned by the BBC.
4. We have a humane mousetrap under our team desk after an eagle-eyed colleague from another team observed a small fluffy rodent scuttling across the office floor. Facilities management was called after which a man with various tools carried out his work methodically, quietly and efficiently. All were very relieved. Goodness knows what would have happened if we’d found a fox like the journos did in Television Centre a few weeks ago.
5. There’s a half-finished bottle of cheap white wine in the fridge no-one’s taking responsibility for. There’s never any useful cutlery in the kitchen and there's never any clean mugs either.
6. There was talk last week of a visit from Acting Director-General Tim Davie. As it happens, his busy schedule made it impossible for him to get up to the fifth floor during a trip to the Media Village. Regardless, the prospect of seeing, meeting or shaking the hand of any DG is something to set the heart racing. “It’s almost like meeting the Queen .. but without the crown or the palace,” said one smartly dressed colleague clearly disappointed not to meet Tim earlier this week. Had he scheduled a visit when he was Director of Audio & Music a few weeks ago, one wonders whether the heart rate would have increased at all.
7. The Children in Need office is on the fourth floor of this building. Staffed by hard-working individuals, their dedication, stamina and resolve is breath-taking. Seeing what’s involved in running a fundraising effort – numerous posters, collecting boxes and comedy bear ears, not to mention the swelling of ranks by various volunteers closer to the big night – lends an infectious air of the village fete with all the locals getting swept along by the atmosphere, retrieving us from our TV fantasies back into (a) reality.
Pudsey models the competition-winning design for a Today programme radio
8. Pudsey still makes us smile. Especially the real one (the jury’s out on the CGI version). Who couldn’t love that yellow bear?
9. We still marvel at television trickery.
10. Us staffers love it when we receive unsolicited face to face feedback. “Nothing quite beats the love and appreciation of random people around you who hear you work for the BBC," tweeted colleague Laura last week.
Jon Jacob is Editor of the About the BBC Blog
Next week, our new Digital Content Manager Hannah Khalil will offer up her Ten Things.