Speech given at the official opening of The Forum, Norwich
great pleasure to be here today for the official opening of the BBC's
move into this wonderful new building.
just look out of the window and go "wow"? It's even better
in the evening with the lights on around St Peter Mancroft and the Cathedral.
I set off to Norwich this morning I was given a firm piece of advice:
whatever you do, don't mention Alan Partridge." One of my golden
rules about advice is to treat it as just that: advice. I happen to
think Steve Coogan is one of our finest comedians. I also think Radio
Norfolk is one of the BBC's finest stations – and I swear that
there is no contradiction whatsoever between those two statements.
a great and important tradition of comedy and satire in the BBC. Whether
it's Morecambe and Wise, Only Fools and Horses, the Monty Python gang,
Ab Fab or I'm Alan Partridge, it's about people and characters that
become a part of our everyday lives.
is the same – and it's every bit as important to the BBC. Its
presenters are a big part of their listeners' everyday lives –
and every bit as important to them as those other BBC icons.
them what is going on across the county – and of course it's their
county and their home too – and they share its fortunes together,
connecting people, day in, day out, for better and for worse.
what broadcasting at its best is all about. It's certainly what the
BBC at its best is all about.
of Radio Norfolk – and all the other BBC teams that work in Norwich
– have been waiting a long time for the move to The Forum which
we are celebrating today.
building is not, of course, just about Norwich – it's the hub
for all the BBC's operations across East Anglia and the Eastern counties.
its region, BBC East is enjoying great success this year. Back in February
it was Look East that won the BBC's regional television news programme
of the year award – not least for the sensitive way that it handled
one of the most difficult news stories of the year in Soham.
week, in an annual ceremony we call the Gillard Awards in honour of
Frank Gillard, the man who founded BBC local radio, I handed the Station
of the Year award to Radio Suffolk after a cracking year of terrific
programmes and record audiences.
Now I should
tell you that I was in fact given a second piece of advice before I
set off this morning – "On no account mention Ipswich Town
Football Club or Suffolk". Well, I'm sorry, but I have to disregard
that advice too – after all, I do have to remember my obligation
as the BBC's Editor-in-Chief to be strictly impartial – an obligation
I take extremely seriously except of course when I'm at Old Trafford.
really is a good time to come to the East. It shows what rude health
the BBC is in in this part of the country.
not enough for our programmes to be doing well. Up to now we've never
shouted our presence around Britain in the way commercial TV often did.
The BBC was hidden away on a split site – with TV in one building
and radio in another. Ask anyone locally for directions and they'd say,
"I think it's somewhere near John Lewis."
any more. Moving into The Forum is an important statement of intent
by the BBC. Anyone left with the idea that the BBC's regions enjoy some
kind of second class status should be invited here today.
business in the nations and regions of the UK as never before –
and there are three good reasons why.
– because regional programming now has a decidedly lower profile
within ITV, and I cannot see that improving. I say this in sorrow, both
as an ex-ITV man and because I believe competition is a good thing.
– because the BBC takes the licence fee from every city, town
and village, indeed from every street of houses in the land, it follows
that we have a public duty and obligation to provide every household
with a service that is relevant to them and to the daily lives they
lead in their community.
ensure that the service they get is just as good as that we provide
to every other community.
and perhaps most importantly – because as our culture and our
businesses become ever more global, all the evidence suggests –
paradoxically – that people's focus on the local is becoming stronger
words, we're seeking to meet a demand that others aren't, that we ought
to meet and that people on the ground are hungry for. You don't need
a degree in rocket science to think that through.
So in the
past two years, we've substantially increased our investment in local
and regional programmes across the UK.
new high profile slots on BBC ONE for our weekly local current affairs
programmes - Inside Out - and our weekly local politics coverage –
The Politics Show – and in each case audiences have more than
local radio programming and launched a whole series of local websites
– under the umbrella heading of Where I Live sites – providing
local guides to news, sport, weather and local events in every area,
as well as giving people the chance to debate the issues that directly
affect their lives.
we can all see today, there's been another kind of increased investment
– investment in updating the buildings we're based in and the
equipment we need for modern broadcasting.
isn't unique - other major schemes are also under way creating new centres
in Birmingham, in Glasgow, in Leeds, Hull and Leicester.
we want to continue to put as much of our income as we possibly can
directly into programmes and services, we're increasingly setting up
new kinds of financial partnerships to create new buildings where the
BBC can be more welcoming and closer to where people live, work and
this month two of our recent building schemes won British Council awards
for new office buildings – The Tun in Edinburgh and the Mailbox
building in Birmingham.
of these awards which show the scope of our ambitions.
about buildings. We care about the space we give our people. We care
about architecture. And nowhere in the country is there a better example
of us meeting all these criteria than here in this terrific new building,
Big Read comes to BBC TWO this very week – a major project to
encourage people to spend more time reading and enjoying books –
what could be more appropriate than to be here in a library?
I don't know what you think of when you normally think of libraries,
but I bet you don't think of one that looks like this. What a great
vision for this community to replace its dire 1960s building with this
soaring architecture of glass and metal that links so beautifully with
the history that makes Norwich such a great city.
a natural fit for the BBC to be here too. We're here to entertain but
we're also here to inform and to educate.
In a room
across the way there's a display all about The Big Read project.
as you can see, is a fantastic venue for holding larger events. The
one on today is all about a new BBC campaign called Talking Teenagers,
which I guess explains all the unmade beds. Don't know about you, but
I normally come to work to get away from that sort of stuff… It's
part of a week of programmes and events for teenagers and their parents,
trying to improve our understanding of the issues and problems they
thing about this building is the new opportunities it creates at a stroke
for the BBC to interact with more people in these kinds of ways.
to do a lot more events of this type with the local community and our
partners at The Forum. Through our phone-ins, websites and outreach
activities we also aim to share some of them with people across the
whole of this big region.
monitors you can see some of the historical highlights of Look East
down the years. And I'm pleased to see they've left in some of the best
told that Ian Masters, who used to present the show, has made more money
selling that infamous out-take where he ends up dropping someone's treasured
ship in a bottle than he ever made from presenting the programme.
is a programme with a long history and a good number of famous faces
have passed through.
learnt to cook on the telly appearing on the show. She says that never
knowing whether she'd be given three minutes or eight minutes in advance
was a great way to learn. Certainly it doesn't seem to have done her
Bell started here too. Then he became a correspondent. As he puts it,
a correspondent is simply a reporter who stays for lunch. But he learnt
his trade here before becoming one of the BBC's best known and bravest
programme's in top form with around a million viewers tuning into Look
East bulletins in the course of an average day.
attracting more than a third of all adult listeners across the county
and remains Norfolk's number one radio station.
that this new home gives them the perfect platform for the new century
and I would like to pay a sincere tribute to everyone at The Forum Trust,
at Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council, and at the BBC who
has made this possible.
to thank all of you for taking the time to come along here today.
Dyke opens new BBC Norwich studios and visits Talking Teenagers event