Monday, 19 March 2012

Your (UK taxpayers') new Broadcasting House

I was in the new Broadcasting House today. I thought I'd take a shufti just to feel it. The part I was in was made up of seven glass-walled storeys arranged around a quadrangle, so everyone on the top floors could  experience that Beachy Head feeling. The feeling engendered by the place is that of bee-hive drawers. Each floor is open and visible to the others so that the busy bee producers and broadcast assistants are all doing an all-too-obvious bee dance at their sites. There's also a touch of the panopticon about it: Jeremy Bentham's vision of the prisoners overlooked from the centre by one guard.

However, the new Broadcasting House is the panopticon without the guard. Mysterious. At least the panopticon prisoners know where the guard is. If you get me.

Another mystery is a strange piece of permanent decor. At the end of the floors there is a shiny white wall. I was too busy doing a Holby City tracking shot in my mind to notice exactly what this shiny white wall was hiding - a kitchen area perhaps. The shiny white wall, however, is broken by a luminous red symbol of a cloud, half-sun and a few drops of rain. A motif representing a lack of permanent sun? The oncoming shower? No one knew.

A rather laconic radio presenter who I admire a lot was sitting with his producer in one of the pub-like cubicles scattered about. He had shrunk. I'm not sure whether this was because this is what the new Broadcasting House does to people. I looked at my hands. They had shrunk too. He recommended I try the lift. He said that it was rather superb. Last time we spoke he was in a somewhat excited state talking about the fault-lines of 1930s London culture. Now he was recommending lifts. Of even more interest to him though was that this superb media factory had overlooked constructing places for presenters to write their scripts.

I got into the lift. It shot down to the ground floor. Why couldn't he write his script in the lift? I thought. At the bottom I met some Year 11 students from a school in Mitcham. Their teacher had long black hair with just-as-long blue stripes in it. Why not?