TV Cream

Cream over Britain

The greatest building in the world?

Fry and Laurie not pictured

There are as many opinions about the BBC as there are people who watch and listen to it, which is how it should be.

One of the organisation’s most potent strengths is its provocation. Everyone is forever piling in with a view over what the Beeb is doing right and what it is doing wrong, and there can be no finer proof of the corporation’s relevance.

Because everybody owns the Beeb, there’s always somebody feeling threatened or irked when their point of view is currently out of favour. And for every person who cares about what the BBC once was, there is another who cares about what it could still become.

The wisdom or otherwise of the BBC’s decision to sell Television Centre has set friend against foe or, in TV Cream’s case, friend against friend (yikes!).

However there’s one thing we can all agree upon: Television Centre was once the greatest building in the world. Whether it still deserves that title is almost beside the point. The place long ago became more than just loading bays and lighting rigs. It ceased being merely a building, great or otherwise, almost as soon as it opened for business.

"Mister Cotton, sir, Mister Cotton..." Its finest hour?

Instead [adopts Adam Curtis-esque arch tone] it became a symbol – a symbol of golden ages or grotesque wages, of wiped tapes or black-and-white japes, of live-to-air spectacle or louche pairs of spectacles.

Television Centre hasn’t meant anything new for ages. It has only ever symbolised things that were old – some good, some bad.

It ought to go on being a symbol, not least as both a lesson and a warning from history.

Something should be done to ensure the site remains within the UK’s central nervous system, even if it is just as a museum – a symbol of how things used to be, and therefore how they can be again.

Here endeth the lesson. Take a bow, Television Centre!



  1. Glenn A

    June 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I know it’s not totally on topic, but notice the two Cream era cars in the foreground, the Morris Minor and the Triumph Dolomite and in the middle of the car park an Austin Maxi in some weird colour. Nothing can be more Cream to me than such iconic Cream cars like these outside a seventies shot of what was the BBC at its peak. No doubt in a few years time this famous old building will be £ 500,000 apartments, sold to people who couldn’t care less what this building means to people of a certain age, with a car park full of expensive cars like Lexuses and BMWs that were unheard of in the seventies. A sad day indeed.

  2. David Pascoe

    June 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I used to think that every programme the BBC made was recorded in TV Centre. Just imagine walking past it at anytime between the 60s and the late 80s and imagining what was being filmed in one studio or another.

    Nevertheless the few people I know who work for the Beeb are fucked off at being confronted with the option of moving to Salford or Aberdeen or Birmingham or Newcastle, while their bosses stay ensconsed in London. It seems so pointless of them to downgrade their London operations when so much is still happening here.

  3. Boggenstrovia

    July 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Farewell TVC, you gave us Roy Castle, Basil Brush, Top of the Pops, Blue Peter etc. You’ll never be forgotten…

  4. Glenn A

    July 16, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Damn shame, I walked past this building in 1987 and you got the feeling you were walking past some kind of monolith devoted to television. Not even Westminster Abbey comes close as such a London icon for me.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    December 31, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Had the BBC not decided to move news to Broadcasting House and didn’t build Salford Quays for sport and childrens, then Television Centre would still be very much in business, and part of it will return next year for Strictly and Children In Need.
    From many accounts, New Broadcasting House is too small for staff used to the spacious and uncrowded world of TVC. Staff jostle for space in the open plan offices, there’s always massive queues for food( no catering block), no parking( bit of a bind for staff who commute) and then the joys of Regent St in rush hour.

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