Designed by Colonel Val Myer, Broadcasting House is the first ever purpose-built broadcast centre in the UK. It was built in 1932 for the BBC, ten years after the corporation first came into existence in 1922.
Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History, explains some the features of old Broadcasting House.
It is an iconic building, a jewel of Art Deco design, celebrated on its opening as ‘the new Tower of London’ (The Architectural Review) and much loved by generations of producers and general public alike. For many people, Broadcasting House is the BBC.
By the end of the millennium, the building was in dire need of repair - so the decision was taken to close it, in order to transform it into a broadcast centre for the 21st century.
Over the last ten years, Broadcasting House has undergone extensive restoration and redevelopment and transformed into the BBC’s headquarters in central London. Now complete, this 80,000 square metre structure provides state-of-the-art, digital broadcast facilities for nearly 6,000 staff from the BBC’s network and global services in Television, Radio, News and Online. At the heart of the building sits the largest live newsroom in Europe.
The Broadcasting House project was divided into two phases. The first phase of construction (2003-2006) comprised the refurbishment and restoration of the original 1932 Broadcasting House Grade II* listed building and the refurbishment of Western House, the new permanent home for Radio 2 and 6Music; and the construction of the John Peel Wing, a new purpose-built, fully resilient building to the east of the site which houses the BBC’s Arabic and Persian TV services and BBC London. It will also soon be home to BBC One’s flagship entertainment programme, The One Show.
The second phase of the project comprised the construction of a brand new 12-storey extension to link old Broadcasting House with the new ‘Peel Wing’. This was delivered on-air, on-schedule and £30m under-budget.
Building on the Legacy
The redevelopment of Broadcasting House in London’s West End is the largest capital project ever undertaken by the BBC. It took a decade to complete, cost £1,014m and involved the biggest single migration of staff in the BBC’s 90 year history. The redevelopment was part of a wider cost-saving strategy to consolidate the BBC’s property portfolio and centralise its London operation. This will ultimately produce savings of more than £700m over the remaining 21-year life of the BBC lease on Broadcasting House.
A New Chapter
A new chapter in the history of BBC Broadcasting House got underway on Sunday 11th March 2012 when the BBC’s Burmese Service became the first programme to broadcast live from new Broadcasting House. This also marked the start of the BBC World Service's move from Bush House, its London home for over 70 years, to its new multimedia broadcasting home in the heart of the capital.
The Andrew Marr Show was the first live domestic TV news show to broadcast from new Broadcasting House on Sunday 2 September 2012 and BBC World News, the first continuous television service to broadcast from its new studio facilities in Broadcasting House, went live on 14 January 2013.