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Bringing a broadcasting icon back to life

David Conway, managing director, BBC Studioworks, looks back over the last 12 months at the iconic Television Centre

It’s hard to believe that BBC Studioworks reopened the doors to Television Centre (‘TVC’) in London’s White City a year ago. So much has happened during the past 12 months since we watched the hoarding come down and the whole site evolve into the vibrant and creative space it is today. We are now one of several ‘complementary’ residents on the wider Television Centre site and over the course of the last year we have welcomed new neighbours and built key partnerships with them – from restaurants and a boutique cinema, through to a new Soho House club.

I’ll admit that bringing the UK’s most iconic broadcasting building back to life, whilst also running our popular operation at Elstree, wasn’t without its challenges. We had to tackle everything from establishing cross-site workflows, through to making sure visitors to the site had a great experience from day one (including clients, crew, staff and audiences). I am proud that as a team we’ve overcome these initial challenges to ensure that TVC is once again one of the industry’s leading production hubs and a fantastic place in which to work and make memorable television.

The four-year construction timeline for the wider TVC site provided us with a unique opportunity to research, design and fine tune every element of our facility. From a technical standpoint, we employed an ‘open standards’ approach to integrate 4k IP solutions with existing HD facilities, offering optimum value and choice for incoming productions. We needed our infrastructure and kit to be robust and flexible enough to meet the differing demands of our customers, both now and in the future, and to ensure it could cope with the complexities and magnitude of the productions we were anticipating.

Many may remember that our first production at TVC was ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show, produced by Hot Sauce. The show was recorded in our biggest studio, 10,800 sq. ft., TC1. BBC Studioworks is a commercial subsidiary of the BBC and accordingly provides TV studios and post production services to all the major broadcasters and independent production companies. This has meant that over the last year we have hosted shows for the likes of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and production companies such as the Endemol Shine Group, Talkback and many more.

Since that first record day, TVC has been a constant hive of activity with the production community embracing all that it offers – with shooting space that can accommodate all genres and styles of programming, cutting-edge technology, innovative post production facilities and an array of flexible support areas.

In just the first three months of being open, we facilitated over 160 episodes of television for multiple production companies, including the 2017 series of BBC Studios’ Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, the quiz show Pointless (Remarkable Television), live music show Sounds Like Friday Night (Fulwell 73) and a debut production for Sky One, The Russell Howard Hour (Avalon Television and Sky Production Services).

Building upon this success, from January 2018, we embarked on a joint project with ITV Studios Daytime to deliver the technical fit-out and works to accommodate its four morning shows, Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women. From mid-April, they all began broadcasting live from Studios TC2 and TC3 every weekday morning. We have now facilitated over 500 hours of live television for these titles alone.

The rest of 2018 to date has continued at the same fast pace as we welcomed a new commission for Channel 4, The Big Narstie Show (Expectation and Dice Productions), the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show (So Television) and Mock The Week (Angst Productions), Channel 4’s The Last Leg (Open Mike Productions) and The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice (Love Productions), as well as a host of other titles. We have also been very busy on the post production side at TVC as many of these productions have also made use of our onsite post production facilities or drawn upon the support of our Elstree editing village which is interconnected with TVC.

Over the past year, we have facilitated 25 different shows at TVC, totalling over 620 episodes of television, over 480 of which have been broadcast live.

The facility also lends itself perfectly to major events and functions. Since opening, we have hosted several high-profile events including The National Lottery Awards, the red-carpet fan event for Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War, the Founders Forum opening gala dinner and an internal launch for BBC Studios to mark its merger with BBC Worldwide.

We’re incredibly proud to be celebrating our first year in operation from such an iconic site which is so close to the hearts of so many people in the creative industries and the UK public at large. 

If you haven’t done so yet, please do come and see what the new TVC looks like.