Last Night’s Viewing: Tales of Television Centre, BBC4
The Great Euro Crash with Robert Peston, BBC2

 

When the BBC revealed that it would be moving out of Television Centre and handing over its doughnut building to a developer, the announcement was followed by a brief Twitter storm as various actors and media types shared their indignation.

Given the fury of the reaction, you would have thought that the Corporation had announced that it planned to euthanase Sir David Attenborough, rather than taken a tricky decision about an aging bit of its infrastructure. It was hard not to view Tales of Television Centre as a kind of appeasing gesture, acknowledging the sentiment that attaches to this particular bit of west London real estate and letting some old troupers hold an early wake. In keeping with the spirit of such things it was fabulously self-indulgent.

"Walking into Television Centre meant sparkle time," said Esther Rantzen, after a short montage of empty studios accompanied by echoey clips from BBC classics. But Esther's eulogy was easily eclipsed by Andi Peters: "I remember getting to TVC and them having my name on the gates," he said of his first day in the building, "and it was literally a religious experience." Still, let's be fair, it must have been fun to be there in the early days, when the BBC had an armlock on broadcasting excellence and there was a household name behind every door.

Happily for the producers of this film, countless producers before them had thought it a brilliant idea to use the building in self-referential gags. There seems to have been an entire sub-genre of comic business devoted to getting through the gates, which meant that memories of the commissionaires and receptionists could be lavishly illustrated with archive clips of everyone from Terry Scott to Pinkie and Perky turning up for work. Other anecdotes – about sexual bunk-ups in the dressing rooms and pot smoking on the set of Play School – had less direct illustration.

A different kind of programme might have seriously addressed the question of whether you got better television out of a pre-Birt BBC in which everything was done in-house. But this was more preoccupied with anecdote and fond remembrance, its stories fuelled by the fact that very few celebrities are immune to the glamour of other celebrities they haven't met before. So, Top of the Pops dancers recalled being starstruck by bands and actors, and actors recalled being dazzled by dancers – in Robert Powell's case to the extent of actually marrying Babs from Pan's People.

Brian Blessed – who appeared on an exterior balcony high above the central rotunda, like a hairy kind of Quasimodo – entertainingly pantomimed his envy of this coup: "Nice guy. But very skinny. Chin him when I see him." He also easily took the cup for most memorable anecdote, recalling how Huw Wheldon had dared him to scale the pillar and tie an inflated condom to the genitals of Helios the sun god. Fun that. But the final montage, in which all the contributors were invited to sum up the building in just one word, was close to insupportable in its sentimental cosiness.

The Great Euro Crash with Robert Peston was a slightly quixotic affair, given the events of the last few days – a bit like trying to paint a bus as it's going over a cliff. But for anyone who wanted to fill in the background before the vehicle hits the ground and the fireball engulfs us all this offered a useful historical survey, from the beginnings of the European Union to the shameless fudges by which governments ensured that monetary union could go ahead. The only slight problem was that any move towards specific detail also threatened to plunge any lay viewer into a fog of unknowing. Oddly, as a string of technocrats, politicians and financial bureaucrats passed across the screen, Peston's historical survey summoned thoughts of a very different account of pan-continental alliances and tectonic change. The only appropriate conclusion was "Winter is coming".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing