Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Can you *please* be careful walking through here..."
Have been networking at the BBC, dah-lings, as part of my increasingly busy working life. As the biggest local business in the London borough I happen to work in, and as part of the local businesses consortium thingie wossit doodah whatever that my organisation is also part of, we were invited to a networking tour and lunch in the Television Centre. On this most pleasant morning, I did the following:

collected lots of business cards
saw the newsroom – a feckin’ huge sprawling open plan room where *all* the news comes in, for *all* the broadcasts: radio, world service, News 24, breakfast, lunch, 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock…
saw the midmorning news being filmed in the middle of the newsroom. Amazingly, the desks the newsreaders sit at are normal working desks that just so happen to have a lit backdrop behind them and a camera in front of them. When the news is due to go out, the desk gets tidied up, the backlights go on, the camera is flipped to record and the autocue starts up. Then when it’s over, it just becomes a normal working desk in the office.
I walked into the backdrop halfway through a broadcast. Anyone who was watching the 11am news and saw the background wobble to the sound of a shrill voice shriek/whispering “Feck! Sorrysorrysorry…” as the supporting metal grille on the back shuddered and threatened to fall off, bringing the whole thing down, that was me. Sorry.
ate lots of sandwiches.
saw the TV studios where Top of the Pops and Blue Peter are filmed, the set of Johnny Vaughn’s BBC3 talkshow and the enormous TV studio 1 where they filmed the ship interiors for Red Dwarf. The studio is stripped bare between bookings, with all the gangways and rigs and cables exposed so that new productions coming in can start set-building from scratch. The Red Dwarf team, in the spirit of true crappy budget sci-fi tv, booked TV studio 1 and left it exactly as it was; all the interior shots of the ship, especially the shots of where the green Spacebug is docked were all done in what was basically the shell of the studio with no additional set building or…anything.
lost my colleague on the way out of the super-labyrinthine building and had to send our guide back in to find her while I stood outside like the harassed and neglectful parent of an errant child wandering free in a department store at Christmas. They didn’t do a tannoy announcement to my annoyance, which I initially requested not so much as to locate the missing colleague but to show her up to the whole of the BBC – she was on the lav. It would have been funny.
saw Queenie, Baldrick and Edmund’s costumes from Blackadder II and Kryten’s head which we all kicked around for a bit for a laugh. It’s very rubbery. I wanted to play with the velociraptor head from Walking With Dinosaurs but by then the coffee had arrived and we had to move on.
found out that the sprawling building is actually shaped like a question mark with the studios fitted around the curve of the open-sided top part of the punctuation mark and the newsroom filling several floors of the entirely circular building

I didn't want to go back to the office. I wanted to hide in the Television Centre forever but then we were taken through a lobby which seemed vaguely familiar and I had a sudden flashback to being 14 and a reserve contestant for a junior episode of Big Break. I was taken to the BBC in a taxi then left stranded in this particular lobby with my sister, starving and confused and bewildered. Since I wasn't taking part in the actual show (thank god) we were taken to a viewing room and fed canteen food until it was over and we spent the rest of the night in the green room making agonising small talk with the other junior contestants (freaks) and the junior snooker players (complete and utter, totally freaky freaks in patterned waistcoats). We drank as much free wine as we could then left as quickly as possible before Jim Davidson spotted us. In the midst of this flashback, the office was suddenly more appealing.

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