History of the BBC

History of the BBC

BBC Buildings - Maida Vale

Maida Vale studios
Robert Plant in concert at Maida Vale 2006

The home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra

The BBC's Maida Vale building was acquired in response to the rapidly increasing requirements of broadcasting in the early 30s. Built in 1909, Maida Vale Studios were orginally the home of the Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club, seating 2,650 persons and proud possessor of its own orchestra balcony! The Palace only lasted three months, however, and for the rest of the decade, the building was occupied by a variety of companies In the 1930s it reinvented itself as one of the BBC's earliest premises, and was a standby centre of the BBC radio news service during the Second World War. Like Broadcasting House, the site had to be repaired after taking a direct hit during the London Blitz.


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Initially, however, it was acquired for orchestral purposes, and so in 1934 a skating rink in Maida Vale was converted into studio facilities large enough to accommodate a major orchestra. It continues with this function to this day, and is now the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, used for both performances and recordings of classical music. It can hold more than 150 musicians, a choir of over 100 and an audience of 220. Overall, the building houses a total of seven music and radio drama studios, and – outside its classical music remit – was most famously home to John Peel's BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (as used in the Doctor Who theme music).

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