This month I thought we’d pay Auntie Beeb a visit. The BBC has been known as “Auntie” from its early days when it was often felt by critics of the BBC that they did not listen to their audience’s views or requests , and instead broadcast what they thought was best for the population.. “Auntie knows best, dear.” For a long time now though Auntie has been more a term of endearment than one of bitter reproachfulness.
Putting that aside the BBC has an international reputation of being trustworthy and credible, much of which is well deserved, for instance the BBC World Service radio station and some of the BBC television’s drama and wildlife programmes.
I have been fortunate to have worked at this world leading broadcaster, not once but twice. Early in in my career, I started off working in the Equipment Department where supplies and requests were handled for the bits and bobs need to fire up transmitters, get radio studios onto the air and outside broadcasts beaming their live pictures into people’s home.
It was a fun place to work and the place was full of characters and tales which probably turned out to be urban myths. For instance the hapless employee who was seconded to a production department and walked into a dark room at the wrong moment exposing and ruining rare footage from the Middle East. At the time it seemed believable but I now doubt it.
More believable perhaps is the same man who reputedly boarded the tube train at White City armed full of expensive camera equipment, only to surface in central London having left the cameras on an underground train. If only it had been the Circle Line rather than the Central Line that he was riding the cameras may have come back round.
After a few years learning all I ever wanted to know about the drawing office, admin, stores and stock control of the thousands of little items need for a radio station to run, I moved to a dream job at the BBC World Service. The building at Bush House and the motto of “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation” rang true and the 40 different language services made it probably the most multicultural office block in the country.
The BBC club deep in the bowels of Bush House plus the 24 hour canteen were places to hang out and try a range of fascinating food. You can read a longer article about the amazing building and some of my adventures there at http://dxinternational.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/tales-from-bush-house.html
Sadly the BBC World Service left Bush House in 2012- it had only ever been there as temporary haven when it was bombed out of Broadcasting House in World War II. In 2012 it returned a couple of miles across central London to the palatial and hi-tech purpose-built New Broadcasting House, which merges almost seamlessly (well, kind of)with the well-known original Broadcasting House which looks to many to be an ocean liner forging its way down Portland Place.
Meanwhile here in Manchester the 1970s BBC building has just been demolished. The north-west tv and radio teams and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra moved out a while ago to the gleaming new Media City complex across the River Irwell in Salford. This is where a sizable chunk of the BBC national output comes from now including BBC Sport, Children’s TV and BBC Radio 5 Live.
You can book up to go on tours of most BBC premises which is usually an educational and entertaining way to spend a few hours for all the family- just the sort of service Auntie would be pleased to provide!