BBC puts its television centre up for sale after 50 years

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By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 7:43 AM on 14th June 2011

The BBC has put its landmark Television Centre up for sale after 50 years at the iconic London site.

The Corporation said it is looking for a deal which will 'maximise the value' for itself and for licence fee-payers - and that could be as much as £300million.

The 14-acre site in White City, West London, is currently home to around 5,000 employees but will be empty by 2015 after staff have moved to other sites including MediaCity in Salford and Broadcasting House.

On sale: The BBC's Television Centre home in West London is on the market and could cost potential buyers as much as £300million

On sale: The BBC's Television Centre home in West London is on the market and could cost potential buyers as much as £300million

Famous outline: The main circular building, known to staff as the doughnut, was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 2009

Famous outline: The main circular building, known to staff as the doughnut, was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 2009

It has vowed to leave 'no stone unturned' in a search for a buyer buy said it will not sell unless it gets value for money.

'The BBC is seeking expressions of interest from the market for either a conventional, freehold property sale or alternative proposals possibly based around a joint venture partnership,' said a BBC spokesman.

'The key objective for any sale or partnership is to maximise the value of the site to the BBC and licence fee-payers.'

The BBC originally announced it wanted to sell the building, which opened in 1960, in 2007.

Famous history: Doctor Who is among the programmes filmed there, but it has also been home to the Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers

Famous history: Doctor Who is among the programmes filmed there, but it has also been home to the Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers

Moving on: The BBC garden - being tended here by Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes - is at the Television Centre site

Moving on: The BBC garden - being tended here by Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes - is at the Television Centre site

Television history: The life of a world famous studios

From the air Television Centre resembles a 'question mark'

• Its construction was announced by Norman Collins, the then-Controller of the BBC Television Service, on Friday, April 1, 1949.

• It was supposed to be six acres - but turned out to be twice as big - and to cost £9m.

• From the air the building has a 'question mark' shape. The architect, Graham Dawbarn CBE, had been handed a 50-page brief and retreated to a pub to consider his task. He doodled a question mark on an envelope and realised that it was the ideal shape.

• In the middle of the 'doughnut' is a sculpture of Helios, the Greek god of the sun. Designed by TB Huxley-Jones, and erected in 1960, it represents the radiation of television light around the world. Two reclining figures at the bottom are sound and vision, the two components of television.

• It officially opened on June 29, 1960, one of the world's first buildings designed specifically for the making and transmission of TV.

• The first programme broadcast was First Night with David Nixon in Studio Three.

• Power cuts were relatively familiar but one such cut caused the launch night of BBC Two, on April 20, 1964, to be cancelled; programmes began the next day instead.

• At half past midnight on Sunday, March 4, 2001, the Real IRA detonated a car bomb outside the building. No-one was killed.

• The BBC News Centre, which transmits almost all of the Corporation's national TV and radio news, opened there in 1998.

• The building was given Grade II listing on June 17, 2009, by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

• It was at Television Centre on October 22, 2009, that BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time, which saw protesters storm the BBC's reception.

The main circular building, known to staff as the doughnut, was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 2009 and could complicate the deal as it would limit what its new owners could do.

The BBC said it had enough time and space around the sale to ensure it was not forced into taking a lower price than wanted.

Among the shows recorded in its studios are Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Blue Peter, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing.

The site is also home to the Blue Peter garden, which will be relocated to a studio roof at the Salford site.

Richard Deverell, W12 programme director, said: 'Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten.

'Our primary aim of the sale is to maximise the value to the BBC and licence fee-payer whilst ensuring the teams and operations based there are successfully relocated.'

The BBC, which currently owns 585,000sq metres of property in Britain across 483 locations, wants to cut its property holdings by 30 per cent.

However, it has also said it would consider joint-venture proposals that could leave it with some presence at the site while the suggestion of a BBC museum has also been mooted.

The Corporation has handed the marketing of the sale to property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton, and has invited potential buyers to register interest by July 1.

A leading commercial property agents - who declined to be named - said the building was likely to cost around £200million.

Recent improvements to the area's transport links and the vast nearby Westfield shopping centre made the site particularly attractive to local and foreign residential developers, they said.

However, if the BBC chooses a joint venture going forward, that would significantly cut the value of the property, according to one agent.

'The value of an employer in a media business is very much lower than the value of residential development, so if there are people that want to enter into a joint venture, and if they are in the media world, that will inevitably reduce the price,' the agent said.

'That would be an interesting dilemma for the BBC because they will have a choice between the highest price and the most politically favoured combination of uses.'

Incentive for buyers: Television Centre's proximity to the Westfield Shopping Centre and its transport links make it attractive to property developers

Incentive for buyers: Television Centre's proximity to the Westfield Shopping Centre and its transport links make it attractive to property developers




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I guess they need the money to pay for Mr. Patten and all those celebs. Scrap the Fee. Why should we have to pay for them. Why if it belongs to us does the Goverment have such a major say in what happens, ie putting Patten in charge, (and we all know from past history what he is like!). Other Tv Companies are making small fortunes so why can not the beeb do the same without money from the Goverment. Why has the Beeb become a mouth peice for the Goverment. Their news stories have become slanted towards the Goverment and DO NOT give all the true facts. LET THE BEEB GO IT ALONE.

- Carrotcruncher, Powys Wales, 14/6/2011 12:50

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Why on earth would they elect to sell prime West London real estate during a property slump? It doesn't make any sense. This is akin to Gorden Brown selling off our gold.

- Trudi, Worcs, 14/6/2011 12:47

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Lots of communist history in that building.

- The Salfordian, Salford, 14/6/2011 12:10

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You can keep it.. far to many disabled bays

- alan, east sussex, 14/6/2011 10:56

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So selling ofdf the BEEB will raise £300 million so this should reduce the licence fee considerably or scrap it altogether, which is what should happen.

- DW, Wigan, 14/6/2011 10:49

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A grade 2 listed building ideal. Convert it into flats for our overpaid MPs then they don't need second homes and all the expenses that goes with them Plenty room for the families at week-ends providing they pay the transport costs themselves. Just think the money saved on expenses would pay for the refurbishment in a matter of months.

- alc2010, Eastleigh Hampshire, 14/6/2011 10:45

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