Session 3

We've created a personalised tour of the BBC just for you! Here's your chance to take a look around the old and new headquarters, learn some history, hear some comparatives and superlatives in action and practise what you've learned so far.

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Session 3 score

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2

Activity 1

Take the tour!

A superlative guide

We have a special treat for you to start Session 3 – our very own BBC Learning English tour of Broadcasting House with John Escolme, the BBC’s History Manager! He will show us some of the newest and oldest parts of the building and tell us more about the history behind it. Pay attention to how he uses comparative and superlative forms – you can read the transcript to help you if you like.

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Hello and welcome to Broadcasting House. My name is John Escolme, the BBC's History Manager, and today I'm taking you on a tour of a very special building, Broadcasting House, the BBC's newest and the BBC's oldest building. Come along with me.

Well, here we are inside Old Broadcasting House in an area where we keep some of our treasures and one of the most historic items is an old microphone. Well, these are three microphones, three very important microphones, and larger than today's microphones but very important because this is the first microphone that broadcast the voice of the monarch to the world in 1932 – King George the Fifth's words were first heard through these microphones.

So, now we're in New Broadcasting House and we're in one of the busiest places in the building – we're in the newsroom.  The newsroom is the largest in Europe, it's also bigger than the old one because all the journalists are working together to share stories and it's busier because there's so much activity going on here. Let's move on.

So, this is one of the many radio studios you'd find in New Broadcasting House. As you can see, it contains all the latest technology so we can broadcast across the world – BBC World Service programmes – or programmes from BBC Learning English – and it's much smaller than an old radio studio. Years ago we'd be using big reels of tape to record just a few minutes of programmes.

"This is London"

Well, we've even more exciting things to show you, so come this way.

This, of course, is a TV studio and here we have some of the TV cameras that we use for World Service television news bulletins, these are much smaller than they used to be. In the 1950s and 60s they were much bigger. And here is where our newsreader would sit, put on his or her best smile and deliver the news, good or bad.

OK, we've got one more thing to show you, follow me.

Well, we're nearly out of time but before we go let me introduce you to one of the most famous things in this building. From the television programme Doctor Who, yes, it's a Dalek!

Now, although we have a lot of famous people coming through this building, this Dalek gets more attention than anything else. The Dalek was designed in 1963 – this isn't an original – in fact this is the version for the 21st century in gleaming, glittering, gold fibreglass.

Well that's the end of the tour. Thanks for joining me and I hope it's been as informative as you had hoped. Come again soon and bye for now.

For many science-fiction fans, one of the most interesting things in the video is the Dalek from Doctor Who. John describes it as “one of the most famous things in this building”.

Look at the adjective forms in the sentences above. Are they comparative or superlative forms?

Well, they are superlatives (the most interesting, the most famous) but there are two very important words just before them: one of…

How does this change the meaning? In an old, well-known place like Broadcasting House, there are many famous and historical items. Who can say which one is the most famous? For history-lovers, it may be the microphone used by King George V. For science-fiction fans, it would most likely be the Dalek. For people who love music, it might be one of the mementoes of The Beatles.

However, everyone can agree that these different items are each one of the most famous. Let’s look at some more examples:

  • Broadcasting House is one of the most iconic buildings in London (London is full of iconic buildings like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and ‘The Gherkin’ and Broadcasting House is one of them).
  • The BBC news team is one of the fastest in the world (It would be difficult to say which news team is actually the fastest but with its highly-professional team and state-of-the-art modern technology, the BBC news team is one of them.)
  • The new ‘John Peel Wing’ is named after one of the BBC’s most popular presenters. (The BBC has had many popular and famous presenters. John Peel was highly popular with music fans so we can say he was one of the most popular).
  • Mm-mmm! That is one of the best lasagnes I have ever eaten! (Said in the BBC canteen? I have eaten and enjoyed so many lasagnes in my lifetime but this one is really great!)

As John says at the end of the video: “I hope it's been as informative as you had hoped!”

Let’s look at that sentence carefully. In this case, we do not see a comparative (more informative than…) or a superlative (the most informative…) Instead, we see as informative as… What does this mean? Look at the following examples and see if you can work it out:

  • I am 3 years older than my brother but he is as tall as me. We are both 1m80 tall.
  • Paul McCartney is as old as my grandfather! They were both born in 1939.
  • Despite many changes over the years, the BBC is still as important as ever in the UK and around the world.

Answer: We use the structure as + adjective + as to describe two things that are the same in some way.

Please check out our grammar reference for more explanations and examples.

To do

Look at the words below – they are all jumbled up! Can you re-arrange them into sentences?

What did John really say?

7 Questions

Put the words in the correct order to make a full sentence

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How did you get on? Next we will review and extend what we have learned so far in this unit and focus on listening with a quiz about the video you've just seen.

Session Vocabulary

  • treasures
    collection of valuable things

    people whose job is to report the news for a newspaper, magazine, radio or television programme

    short news broadcast

    shiny, clean, and looking in a good condition