Broadcasting House and the new eastern extension
|Alternative names||BH, BBC Broadcasting House|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|Current tenants||BBC News
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1Xtra
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 Extra
BBC World Service
BBC World News
|Construction started||21 November 1928|
|Inaugurated||15 March 1932|
|Height||34 m (112 ft)|
|Floor count||9 above ground, 3 below ground|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||George Val Myer, Raymond McGrath|
|Civil engineer||Marmaduke T Tudsbery|
Broadcasting House is the headquarters and registered office of the BBC, located in Portland Place and Langham Place, London. The first radio broadcast from the building was made on 15 March 1932, and the building was officially opened two months later, on 15 May. The main building was built in the Art Deco style, and features a facing of Portland stone over a steel frame. It is Grade II* listed building and includes the BBC Radio Theatre, from where music and speech programmes are recorded in front of a studio audience, and lobby which has been used as a location for filming of the 1998 BBC television series In the Red.
As part of a major consolidation of the BBC's property portfolio in London, Broadcasting House has been extensively renovated and extended. This involved the demolition of post-war extensions on the eastern side of the building, which were replaced by a new wing completed in 2005. The wing was named the "John Peel Wing" in 2012, after the disc jockey. BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC London moved from other locations in London to the new wing. BBC Arabic Television and BBC Persian Television were established after the wing was built and broadcast from there.
The main building was refurbished, and a new extension built to the rear of it. The radio stations BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 4 Extra and the BBC World Service all transferred to newly refurbished studios within the building. The new extension links the old building with the John Peel Wing, and includes a new combined newsroom for BBC News, featuring studios for the BBC News channel, BBC World News and other news programming. All news operations moved from BBC Television Centre in March 2013.
Construction of Broadcasting House began in 1928. Programmes transferred gradually to the new building. On 15 March 1932 the first musical programme to come from BH was given by the bandleader Henry Hall and his Dance Orchestra. The first news bulletin was read by Stuart Hibberd on 18 March. The last transmission from Savoy Hill was on 14 May. Broadcasting House, officially opened on 15 May 1932. George Val Myer designed the building in collaboration with the BBC's civil engineer, M T Tudsbery. The original interiors were the work of Raymond McGrath, an Australian-Irish architect. He directed a team which included Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates and designed the vaudeville studio, the associated green and dressing rooms, and the dance and chamber music studios in a flowing Art Deco style.
The building was steel framed and faced using Portland stone. The radio studios were arranged in the central core of the building, with the offices encasing them on the outside, so that they could be both away from the noise of the radio operations, and have access to daylight. Objections by local residents also caused the structure to be changed. The east side of the building blocked out the light to local residents, and after complaints and seeking the right of ancient lights, the building was altered so that the east side of the building had a sloped roof. Underground structures, including hundred year old sewers, presented problems during construction. The building was built atop the Bakerloo line of the London Underground, while the Victoria line was in turn tunnelled beneath Broadcasting House in the 1960s, and has since presented problems for construction of the Egton Wing (see below). Noise from passing trains is audible within the radio theatre, but generally imperceptible in recordings.
The ground floor of the building was fitted with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the street, as it was believed that to finance such a project (costing £25,000,000 in today's money) they would need to let the ground floor as a retail unit. The rapid expansion of the BBC meant this never occurred.
The original building also showcases a number of works of art, most prominently the statues of Prospero and Ariel (from Shakespeare's The Tempest) by Eric Gill. Their choice was fitting since Prospero was a magician and scholar, and Ariel, a spirit of the air, in which radio waves travel. There was, reportedly, controversy over some features of the statues when first built and they were said to have been subsequently modified. They were reported to have been sculpted by Gill as God and Man, rather than simply Prospero and Ariel, and that there is a small carved picture of a beautiful girl on the back of the statue of Prospero. Additional carvings of Ariel can be found on the building's exterior in many bas-reliefs, some by Gill, others by Gilbert Bayes. The reception area also contains a statue of 'The sower' also by Gill.
Broadcasting House has undergone a major renovation, with the aim of refurbishing the original building and combine a number of the BBC's operations in a newly built extension. This now houses the television and radio operations of BBC News, which has relocated from Television Centre; the BBC World Service from Bush House (relocated 12 July 2012), and BBC Radio, with the exception of BBC Radio 5 Live and its sister station 5 Live Sports Extra, which have moved to Salford Quays.
The building work was completed in two phases. It began with the demolition of two post-war extensions to the original building.
First phase 
The first phase consisted of the renovation of the original building, which was now starting to show its age and needed structural repair, and the building of a new wing to the east of the original structure.
In the old building, the sloped east roof was taken off, and many of the rooms stripped back to their walls, although much of the Art Deco architecture was retained and preserved. Much of the work focused on the lower walls and ceilings which did not include Art Deco features. The reception area was renovated to include a new desk, while retaining the message and statue as the attention piece of the room. Many rooms had ceilings removed, such as the south tower, and new reinforcement joists were added.
The new Egton wing was roughly the same shape as the main Broadcasting House building, featuring a modern design and window arrangement, but retaining some features such as the Portland stone used for the building. Towards the rear of the building, a large block was created in the side, mirroring that created in the main building, when the sloping roof was removed.
The design of the new extension, intended to equal in "architectural creativity" that already on site was carried out by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard. Construction was completed in 2005 and the newly refurbished Broadcasting House, and the newly completed Egton wing were opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 April 2006 as part of her 80th birthday celebrations. All areas of the Egton Wing were fully fitted out and completed by 2007.
In 2012, it was announced by the then Director-General Mark Thompson that the Egton Wing would be renamed the 'John Peel Wing' to commemorate the late Radio 1 Disc jockey who he described as a "great radio talent". Thompson described the new wing as a "fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for". Later that year, the naming of the building was placed in doubt, when Peel was reported to have had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl in the 1960s, allegations which followed in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal.
Second phase 
The second phase of the project was the creation of the large wing to the rear of the building, joining the two buildings, and creating a plaza between them. The original architects were sacked and replaced by the BBC for not agreeing to cost-related revisions, as Sir Richard MacCormac was unwilling to sacrifice the quality of his design. The construction work was completed by Bovis Lend Lease. Construction was completed in 2010, and control handed over to the BBC in 2011. While the rebuilding process was under way, many of the BBC radio stations moved to other buildings near Portland Place.
The extension contains the BBC News and Journalism departments, and state-of-the-art technical equipment and new studios to house the BBC News bulletins on television, the BBC News Channel as well as BBC World News, the BBC Arabic Television service and the BBC Persian Television service. At the heart of this is a new newsroom, the largest live newsroom in the world.
A walkway above the newsroom allows the public to view the work of journalists, while connecting the foyer to the Radio Theatre and a new café for staff and the public. This, complemented by the outdoor plaza, which could act as an outdoor arena and theatre, is designed to engage the public with the television and radio making process. The extension is glass-covered in the plaza area and curved to contrast both wings either side and to continue the glass found on both sides high up the building. On the Portland Place side, it continues the same use of Portland stone and glass seen in Egton wing.
On Monday 18 March 2013 at 1pm, following the BBC News Channel's final broadcast from Television Centre, the first news programme from Broadcasting house was aired: the BBC News at One, on BBC One and the BBC News Channel.
When first built, Broadcasting House contained 22 radio studios for all the programme genres and all designed in the art-deco style with a dual emphasis on both looks and practicality. The overall practicality of the studios changed rapidly as a result of the limitations of the time and the changing nature of broadcasting and the uses of the studios. These studios were:
|8A||Military Band studio||Serge Chermayeff||Designed for large band and vaudeville performances.|
|8B||Small Debates studio||Serge Chermayeff||A small informally designed studio to encourage lively and confident debate.|
|7A||Production studio||Wells Coates||Acoustically dead studio, used for one section of a drama.|
|7B||Production studio||Wells Coates||Used for speech in a play or drama or for piano performances.|
|7C||Production studio||Wells Coates||Acoustically dead small drama studio.|
|7D||Effects studio||Wells Coates||Small effects studio for producing foley.|
|7E||Gramophone Effects studio||Wells Coates||Small studio for producing effects from or involving gramophones.|
|6A||Production studio||Wells Coates||Double height, large production studio for use in Drama productions.|
|6B||Production studio||Wells Coates||Small drama studio.|
|6C||Production studio||Wells Coates||Acoustically dead small drama studio.|
|6D||Effects studio||Wells Coates||Main effects studio for the production of foley. It was equipped with different floor coverings and coverings on the main table to achieve different effects and contained various items including a wind machine and a water tank.|
|6E||Gramophone Effects studio||Wells Coates||Small studio for producing effects from or involving gramophones.|
|4A||News studio||Wells Coates||Acoustically dead small studio for reading news bulletins. Contained gramophone records to be played in the event of an interruption.|
|4B||News studio||Wells Coates||Acoustically dead small news studio with record players.|
|3A||Production studio||Serge Chermayeff||A double-height large studio used for Children's Hour and used for chamber music recitals and by the BBC Dance Orchestra.|
|3B||Talks studio||Serge Chermayeff||A small talks studio for unrehearsed debates.|
|3C||Talks studio||Serge Chermayeff||An acoustically dead small talks studio for unrehearsed debates.|
|3D||Library Talks studio||Dorothy Warren Trotter||A small talks studio for speeches and debates. It was decorated in the style of a personal library or study for the benefit of elderly or lordly speakers.|
|3E||Religious studio||Edward Maufe||A double height large studio with a balcony that was designed for religious broadcasts. The studio was specifically designed with a focus on all religions so that any religious member would feel comfortable. The studio was soon disused as listeners preferred the sound of a real church and congregation.|
|The concert hall||Val Myer||A very large double-height concert hall for use by orchestras playing classical music. The hall contains a large space for the orchestra as well as a large section and a balcony for seating. The first organ suitable for broadcasting was installed in the studio. It was renamed the Radio Theatre in 1994.|
|BA||Vaudeville studio||Raymond McGrath||A double-height studio with balcony for theatre and variety performances. An audience of 60 could be present for performances.|
|BB||Dance band studio||Raymond McGrath||A double-height studio with a small balcony for an audience for use by the BBC Dance Orchestra. It was taken over for experimental television broadcasts on 22 August 1932.|
Following the rebuild and refurbishment of Broadcasting House, several new studios have been added and the studio structure itself has changed dramatically. The current studios are:
Until programmes air information is subject to change. All times listed are either Greenwich Mean Time or British Summer Time depending on what is being used in London.
Journalists' Memorial 
Atop the roof of the new John Peel wing of Broadcasting House, mirroring the radio mast, is a cone-shaped glass structure, reaching into the sky at the same height as the radio mast opposite. It was sculpted by Jaume Plensa and is a memorial to all of the BBC journalists killed in the line of duty. Called Breathing, it includes words from a poem by James Fenton and is illuminated day and night. At 10pm daily, in line with the BBC News at Ten, a column of light shines 900 metres into the sky. It was officially unveiled on 16 June 2008 by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
See also 
- "BBC News' television output moves to new studios at Broadcasting House" (Press release). BBC. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- "The Past". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- BBC - Press Office - Broadcasting House London development
- "BBC - Press Office - Broadcasting House, London". Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "Exterior Sculptures - Broadcasting House in 1932". Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "BBC - Radio 4 - Archive Hour - The Home of Radio". Retrieved 10 April 2007.[dead link]
- "BBC World Service leaves Bush House". BBC News. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Western House - The new studios". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Dan Sabbagh (7 September 2012). "The news from the BBC: its £1bn new base is finally coming on air". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- "The story of Broadcasting House". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- "The Present". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- "BBC to name wing of new Broadcasting House after John Peel" (Press release). BBC. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
- Eccles, Louise; Ward, Alex (13 October 2012)."BBC to consider renaming Peel Wing at headquarters after claims DJ had affair with schoolgirl, 15". Daily Mail (London).
- Barnett, Antony (13 November 2005). "BBC in political row after sacking leading architect". The Observer (London). p. 2. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Bovis to revamp BBC headquarters". The Daily Telegraph (London). 19 December 2002. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Broadcasting House, London". Key Facts. BBC Press Office. May 2004. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Hines, Mark (2008). The Story of Broadcasting House, Home of the BBC (First ed.). London: Merrell. p. 51. ISBN 9781858944210. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Eighth Floor - Studio 8A". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcsting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Eighth floor - 8B and Drama Control". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Seventh floor - 7B and Music control". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Sixth floor". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Sixth floor - Effects studio". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Sixth floor - Effects studio". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Fourth floor - 4A, 4B and office". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Third floor - 3A and 3B". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Third floor - Studio 3D". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Third floor - Studio 3E". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Lower Ground floor - Concert Hall". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Hines, Mark (2008). The Story of Broadcasting House, Home of the BBC (First ed.). London: Merrell. p. 121. ISBN 9781858944210. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Sub-Basement - Studio BA". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Sub-Basement - Studio BB". Broadcasting House 1932. Old Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories (ORBEM). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Priming the pips in studio 40B".
- "Killed reporters' memorial opens". BBC News. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Editorial: In praise of... the Breathing light sculpture". The Guardian (London). 17 June 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Broadcasting House, London|
- Broadcasting House at BBC Online
- History of the BBC - Broadcasting House at BBC Online
- Press Office Key Facts - 1932 Broadcasting House at BBC Online
- Broadcasting House - a potted history
- Old BBC Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories - Broadcasting House in 1932
- Details from listed building database (424540) . Images of England. English Heritage.