Press Office

Monday 21 Apr 2014

Press Release

BBC Television Centre goes to market

BBC Television Centre

The BBC today announced the first phase in the sale of Television Centre, White City, London. Working with commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), the BBC is seeking expressions of interest from the market for either a conventional, freehold property sale or alternative proposals possibly based around a joint venture partnership. The key objective for any sale or partnership is to maximise the value of the site to the BBC and Licence Fee payers.

The BBC originally announced its intention to sell Television Centre in 2007. LSH were appointed in November 2010 following a competitive tender to help finalise the strategy to market the 14-acre freehold site.

Apart from a conventional sale, the Corporation is keen to investigate opportunities for redeveloping Television Centre that preserve the key listed elements of the iconic building, but also afford the opportunity to establish a hub for creative businesses and a visitor destination.

The existing Studios and Post Production business will continue to operate following the sale of Television Centre, either remaining on site or in a new location.

Chris Kane, Head of BBC Workplace, commented: "Our key objective is to maximise value to the BBC. With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a shortage of landmark sites as distinctive as Television Centre, we anticipate strong competition for both conventional and innovative proposals."

The BBC's strategy for Television Centre supports the Greater London Authority's (GLA) master plan to redevelop White City, as set out in the draft Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) currently in consultation.

Richard Deverell, W12 Programme Director, commented: "Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten. Our primary aim of the sale is to maximise the value to the BBC and Licence Fee payer whilst ensuring the teams and operations based there are successfully relocated."

The BBC plans to fully vacate the site in 2015. As a first step, interested parties are invited to register their interest by 1 July 2011. It is the intention of the BBC to arrive at a short list of potential purchasers or joint venture partners; thereafter, selected parties will be formally invited to tender.

Notes to Editors

Registered users can obtain an artist's impression of a redeveloped Television Centre from www.bbcpictures.com.

Sale of Television Centre – Key Facts

Opening

  • Television Centre opened on 29 June 1960, as the BBC's first purpose-built centre for television production
  • Television Centre is currently the home of BBC Vision and BBC News – the News Centre opened in 1998 at the front of the building

Location

  • Four miles outside central London on Wood Lane, White City (near to BBC's Media Village campus) on part of the site used for the Franco-British exhibition of 1908

Architect

  • Graham Dawbarn, CBE famously came up with the curious design whilst sitting in a pub where he pulled out an old envelope and drew the triangular shape of the site with a question mark in the middle. How could he design a centre with eight studios, production galleries, dressing rooms, camera workshops, recording areas and offices to support them? The centre also needed an area to bring in trucks with sets and a separate area to bring in audiences and guests. He looked at the question mark and in a flash of inspiration realised that it would make the perfect design

Features

  • The site extends over 14 acres containing five core buildings, a number of which have been extended since the original building was constructed
  • The main building comprises the distinctive circular office block (also known as the "doughnut") enclosing a 150ft central courtyard, and where TB Huxley-Jones' sculpture of Helios, Greek god of the sun was erected in 1960
  • The sculpture represents the radiation of television right around the world and the two reclining figures at the bottom are sound and vision, the two components of television
  • Grouped around it are the original seven studios, linked by a covered walkway and ring road for delivery and storage of scenery
  • The front elevation featuring the flanking wall of Studio 1 – with its famous dots – is the most familiar view of the building
  • Adjoining the cylindrical block is a spur which was developed in three phases between the 1960s and 1990s to form interconnecting blocks of office and studio space

English Heritage Listing

  • In July 2009, parts of TVC were given Grade II listed status, including the main circular ring, excluding the spur, the original scenery block and the former canteen
  • Other sections of the complex are not of special interest: the outer ring of studios, the scenery block of 1953-54; the canteen of 1954-55; the completed spur or 1964, 1978, 1983-8 and 1995-8, and the east tower to the south east of the site

Historical Facts

  • The centre has 12 studios, ranging in size from 110 square metres to the vast Studio TC1 at 995 square metres – the third largest TV studio in Britain
  • Notable TV programmes that have been recorded here include Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Blue Peter, Absolutely Fabulous, classic Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing. In addition, Television Centre features the famous Blue Peter garden where some of Blue Peter's celebrated pets are memorialised. The new Blue Peter garden will be located on the roof of the studio block at MediaCityUK, plans for which are currently under discussion
  • The last major drama series to be shot here was The House Of Elliott in 1994 – after that, drama production moved onto film or single-camera video and Television Centre was not entirely suitable for such production
  • The building was damaged by a car bomb located outside Television Centre in March 2001. Staff evacuated the premises and no-one was injured. The attack was attributed to dissident Irish Republicans

Current Occupation

  • At the end of 2010, just over 5000 staff occupied TVC
  • Once moves to MediaCityUK and Broadcasting House have completed, there will be just under 1200 staff that will need to be relocated
  • Of those remaining, the major occupiers will be BBC Vision. Other divisions affected will be Operations, Audio & Music, Finance and Business, Future Media, and Studios and Post Production.
  • The majority of people and functions will have moved out by summer 2013. It is expected that the site will be fully vacated in 2015
  • The studios at TVC are run by BBC Studios and Post Production Ltd, a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC
  • BBC Studios and Post Production has worked with over 250 different media companies and clients in the last year and has plans for future growth. It will continue to operate post sale of Television Centre either remaining on site or in a new location
  • BBC Studios and Post Production has contracts in place with BBC Vision as their chosen supplier for studios in London until 2015

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