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Telly Centre is Fifty!

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Eamonn Walsh | 10:37 UK time, Tuesday, 29 June 2010

So happy birthday Television Centre.

Fifty years since the day the BBC first opened the doors on one of the world's first purpose built television production studios on 29 June 1960, its curved exterior façade has become familiar to millions and played host to some of the BBC's most loved shows and star performers.

Panorama heralded the building of Television Centre in a film broadcast in June 1956 and spoke in excited terms about how this building was to represent the future of television and in time help introduce multi-channel television, live satellite broadcasts and colour broadcasting to the UK.

Richard Dimbleby explains further in this clip from the 1956 programme.

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But even Panorama could not begin to predict the impact this building - or the content produced within its labyrinthine walls - would have.

TVC - or Telly Centre as it is affectionately known by its employees - is now such an icon that hundreds of people take the Television Centre 'experience' tour everyday.

It is even being honoured with its own night of celebration later this week at the BFI.

There has been the odd low along the way too.

The lowest point probably being the terrorist explosion of 2001.

That bomb was said to have been left in a taxi outside TVC by an Irish republican splinter group in revenge for a Panorama investigation into who was responsible for the 1998 Omagh bombing in which 29 people and two unborn babies lost their lives.

The car-bomb exploded as it was being dismantled. Fortunately no-one was hurt in the incident.

Almost 10 years on, the building is still going strong, producing content as varied as Strictly Come Dancing and Newsnight, but now facing an uncertain future with many claiming it no longer fit for purpose in the digital age.

With that future now in question as the BBC prepares to move much of its production to central London - and part of the building now Grade II listed - TVC prepares to celebrate its 50th birthday, safe in the knowledge that it has played a huge part in the cultural growth of the UK throughout those 50 years.



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