BBC announces sale of iconic Television Centre site

Decision could end more than 50 years of programme-making at White City site

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Television Centre, the BBC’s west London broadcasting headquarters, is officially up for sale, the corporation announced today.

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The BBC is inviting freehold bids for the 14-acre site in White City estimated to be worth up to £300 million. It is also considering partnership opportunities that could include the development of a multipurpose “artistic quarter” around parts of the current building.

“The key objective for any sale or partnership is to maximise the value of the site to the BBC and licence fee payers,” said the BBC in a statement. 

Initial intentions to sell were announced in 2007, but the process was complicated by a number of factors, including property prices falling and elements of the building being granted Grade II-listed status in 2009. 

Built in 1960, the site is currently home to around 5,000 employees and will be completely vacated by the BBC in 2015, potentially ending more than 50 years of programme-making at Television Centre. 

Displaced staff are expected to be housed at either the redeveloped Broadcasting House complex in central London or the new BBC North facilities at MediaCityUK in Salford. 

In the past half-decade Television Centre’s eight main studios (and numerous smaller facilities) have played host to some of the best-loved television programmes.  From Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Comic Relief, classic Doctor Who to Strictly Come Dancing, TVC was home to them all.  It’s even the site of the Blue Peter garden.

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Legend has it that its architect, Graham Dawbarn, drew the original plans for the building on the back of an envelope in a pub.  Not sure what to put on the triangular site, he simply drew a question mark within the shape.  Apparently it was this punctuation mark that formed the basis of the iconic building affectionately known as “The Doughnut”.