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Maida Vale @ 75 - Tune in and join the celebration

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Lewis Carnie Lewis Carnie | 14:28 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009

It's hard to describe how a building can become an icon. It's just something that happens as a result of history and the activities that have been carried out in it. The BBC has several. Television Centre, the hub that created a generation of light entertainment shows that invaded the country's living rooms as the television explosion swept from Lands End to John O'Groats is one. So was the Paris Theatre that housed so many great radio comedy shows and comedians at the height of their creative genius. It's sadly no longer in the BBC property portfolio. And then there is Maida Vale Studios, the former ice rink that is 100 years old - 75 of which have been in the ownership of the BBC. This fairly nondescript rabbit warren of a building, just up from Warwick Avenue tube (that's right the stop that Duffy so ably brought to the public's attention last year when she sang about it) is indeed an iconic place. The studios have housed music making and drama from a who's who of artists for decades. Bing Crosby sang his last live session there, but many more sang their first - including the aforementioned Duffy.


Maida Vale has been a home to talent that remains unsurpassed in love and affection. Abbey Road may be just round the corner (almost!) but the list of artists who admire the wonderful sound these hallowed studios can lend to your craft is as big if not longer than the world's most famous recording studio. The Beatles played many Bank Holiday Shows there, The John Peel Sessions were created there, today we have Radio 1's Live Lounge, regular recordings for Radio 2 with artists of international repute, and of course it is the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a world of the crème de la crème of classical talent.

How can we forget the Radiophonic Workshop and the great dramas that have been created within these walls? Or indeed, the general buzz of the building as artists of all descriptions and genres come and go to hone their craft with the help of the BBC and it's production expertise.

This Friday 30 October we celebrate the 75th Birthday of Auntie owning Maida Vale with an array of talent that demonstrates the amazing diversity of the beeb's broadcasting range. Every BBC Radio network is taking part - Radio's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1Xtra and the Asian Network - will all be there. There will be live programming across the 24 hour period to enjoy. It kicks off with The Janice Long Show on Radio 2 with special guests The Sterophonics at midnight tonight. Then throughout the rest of the day you can check out everything from Snow Patrol on Radio 1, Yusuf, Jamie Cullum, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Nell Bryden and Scouting For Girls on Radio 2, Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting an afternoon concert on Radio 3, Front Row live on Radio 4, Simon Mayo live in the afternoon on 5 Live, Corinne Bailey Rae on 1Xtra, The Craig Charles All Star Funk Band live on 6 Music, Apache Indian on the Asian Network and a huge tilt of the cap to the Radiophonic Workshop on BBC 7.

There is also a live drama on Radio 2 - Brief Encounter starring Jenny Seagrove and Nigel Havers, using a script that has been in the BBC's ownership and unused since 1947! They are accompanied by a sterling cast to recreate this classic story live to air.

Few buildings hold as many memories as the Maida Vale Studios and tomorrow we plan to make many more. You can check all programming out live or you can listen again on the iPlayer. Dame Kiri's performance on Friday Night Is Music Night is on the Red Button and you can catch Snow Patrol filmed for Live Lounge on the Radio 1 website.

It will be a great day - tune in and share it with us.

Lewis Carnie is Head of Programmes BBC Radio2/6 Music

Related Links
Maida Vale @ 75 - details of all the day's programmes


  • Comment number 1.

    Apols for shameless self promotion but the first session to be visualised was last night's Stereophonics gig on Janice Long's show. Watch it now on Radio 2's website


  • Comment number 2.

    Just to point out the truth as I understand it is that Maida Vale was originally a roller skating (not ice skating) rink called the 'Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club' which was purpose-built in 1909 and licenced as such until 1912. By 1925 the building was being used as National Insurance offices by the Ministry of Health. The BBC acquired the premises in the early 1930s (around the time BH opened) for orchestral purposes and built a complex of 5 studios there to accommodate the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers which opened in October 1934. During WW2 the studios were used for news broadcasts to Europe. The building was bombed during WW2 in May 1941, after which the BBC refurbished the building and added the extra studios that we still have today. Sorry for being a complete geek about it but as I read up I thought I'd share the love.


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