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Broadcasting House

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Identification

Broadcasting House
BBC Broadcasting House
309000

Map

Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
limestone
white
art deco

Usages

radio station tv studio

Facts

  • This is the corporate headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and was constructed as the BBC's first-ever purpose-built broadcasting centre.
  • A clock tower topped with an aerial mast rises above the main entrance.
  • On completion, the building featured 22 studios, 1.62 kilometres (1 mile) of corridors, 1,250 stairs, 800 doors and 80 kilometres (50 miles) of electrical wiring.
  • This was London's first building to have artificially ventilated lavatories.
  • During World War II, the building had a 24-hour police guard as it was considered a target for "fifth columnists and subversives".
  • Broadcasting House is Grade II* Listed.
  • Constructed from Portland stone, a masonry tower originally contained all studios and had a steel-framed shell for acoustic buffering.
  • In August 1932, inventor of television John Logie Baird demonstrated his experimental equipment in a Broadcasting House studio.
  • On 8th May 1945 (VE Day), the building was adorned with the flags of the 22 Allied nations and it was floodlit for the first time since 1937.
  • Above the entrance is a statue of Ariel and Prospero, characters from 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare, carved by Eric Gill. The then BBC Director-General John Reith (later Lord Reith) supposedly ordered Gill to reduce the size of the naked boy Ariel's penis as it had led to complaints.
  • Having escaped Nazi-occupied France, on 18th June 1940 General Charles de Gaulle broadcast a speech from Broadcasting House in which he rallied his countrymen to what would become the Free French Forces.
  • BBC Radio 1 made its Tony Blackburn-hosted debut broadcast on 30th September 1967 from Studio D on the first floor, bursting onto the music scene playing 'Flowers in the Rain' by 'The Move'.
  • The first broadcast to be made from Broadcasting House was on 15th March 1932 of Henry Hall and his BBC Dance Orchestra.
  • In 1942, a bomb shelter with 56-centimetre (22-inch) thick walls was constructed under the building to facilitate uninterrupted broadcasting should it sustain a direct bomb hit.
  • In 1932, 'The Architectural Review' described the building as the "new Tower of London".
  • On 15th October 1940, the building was hit by a 500lb bomb, killing seven staff members. Broadcasting of the 9 o'clock news continued unhindered for security reasons.
  • King George V made the first royal broadcast to the Empire on Christmas Day, 1932.
  • Two extensions were constructed in 1961 and 1995 but have been demolished and replaced with state-of-the-art facilities.
  • In World War II, the building was painted grey to camouflage it against aerial attack. Despite this, it was bombed three times.

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More Information

Location

2-22 Portland Place
2-22 Portland Place
W1
London
England
United Kingdom

Technical Data

147.31 ft
117.13 ft
114.17 ft
9
3
1930
1932

Involved Companies

G. val Myer

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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
  • National landmark
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