The move to the landmark building in the city centre
marks both the end of an era and the start of a new digital age
for the BBC in the east.
Look East is the last BBC operation based in Norwich
to make the switch to the multi-million pound regional headquarters.
Radio Norfolk, Inside Out, The Politics Show, the
Norfolk Where I Live website and News Online have already relocated
to the Forum in a staggered move, which started in June.
It will be the first time that the station's services
have been together under one roof.
Until this summer, the BBC operated from a split
site in Norwich divided between TV's base at St Catherine's Close
and the radio studios in Surrey Street.
Presenters Stewart White and Susie Fowler-Watt
sat behind their desk at the Look East studios for the final time
on Friday 26 September.
It was an emotional moment for staff. Television
programmes have been broadcasted from the listed Georgian building
for more than 40 years.
The St Catherine's Close studios were converted
from a family home, which was once occupied by the Blaxlands.
The reception's sweeping staircase and chandeliers
were the eye-catching centrepiece of the station, whose various
departments were housed in a labyrinth of rooms and corridors.
But the listed building's period elegance, together with its location
on the edge of the city centre, also prompted the move.
The layout of St Catherine's Close meant it would
not comply with the new disability discrimination act, while the
cost of converting the station to hold new broadcasting equipment
meant it was out of the question to renew the lease.
BBC bosses were committed to staying in Norwich
and plumped for the Forum due to its prominent position, making
it easier for people to pop in.
Tim Bishop, head of BBC East, said the wow factor
of the glass-fronted Forum also helped to sway the decision.
"The BBC wanted to stay in Norwich,"
said Mr Bishop. "It wanted to create
a more visible presence at the heart of the community.
"The Forum is a striking, stunning building
that has enhanced the centre of Norwich and it felt like a natural
fit," he added.
Passers-by can now see the BBC at work through
the floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlook the atrium.
"It will be easier for people to drop in and
see us, and as the Forum becomes increasingly a venue for public
events we can be even more involved in the local community,"
said Mr Bishop.
Despite being sorry to leave St Catherine's Close
behind, Mr Bishop believes the station's new home is the way forward
for a modern BBC.
"I loved the Georgian staircase and entrance
to St Catherine's but working right in the centre of Norwich, which
is my favourite city, just can't be beaten," he said.
"I've always believed the BBC should have
a more prominent presence and be there for everyone who pays for
it - now we are," he added.
The Forum has been equipped with cutting edge digital
technology which has been custom-built for BBC East.
In the future, the system will be rolled out to
BBC centres in Birmingham, Hull, Leeds and Manchester.
New desktop editing kits and a state-of-the-art
transmission system will result in quicker news production and will
ensure better coverage of the region.
Journalists will now be able to come back into
the building with their tape, feed it into the server and view their
pictures at their desk.
They can start selecting what to use in their films,
without having to wait for an editing suite and editor.
Also for a breaking story journalists can go out,
film their piece, cut it at their desk and have the news on air
Another advantage of the server system is that
a number of departments can view the material at once.
Staff from Look East, London and regional centres,
News 24, radio and websites will have immediate access to pictures
and audio rather than having to queue for it.
Dave Betts says the new technology will help
improve Look East.
Dave Betts, Look East's output editor, said the
technology will make it easier to cover the region because more
effort can be put into news gathering and less into processing material
back in the office.
"It's more flexible in terms of editing,"
said Mr Betts.
"News bulletins will have more news
in them. There'll be shorter pieces, but they will get around the
region," he added.
He also believes the station's location will raise
its profile in the community - attracting more people to drop in
with stories. It will ultimately mean the news agenda is no longer
shaped as much by journalists.
"People will know we are there and can bring
in stories to us," said Mr Betts.
"It's great not to be tucked away in the corner.
People can walk in off the street and tell us news.
"We're going to try to do more people stories,
people more than institutions," he added.
This more people-friendly approach will also be
reflected in Look East's new set.
"We're retiring the newsdesk," said Mr
"Presenters will stand at a lectern for breakfast
and late bulletins and for lunch, while Look East presenters will
be sitting at two chairs behind a coffee table.
"The desk was a massive artificial barrier
between the presenters and the viewers. It's all part of making
us more accessible," he said.
Despite his excitement, Mr Betts admits he's nervous
about Monday's first programme from the Forum.
"We're making a lot of changes in one go.
It's like a big bang," he said.
"We've had changes before on Look East, but
they've all been made gradually.
"There's not one person at Look East whose
job won't change," he added.
Take a tour of Look East's
new home - click through this pop-up guide.