For generations of British television viewers yesterday was a sad day. Four years after broaching the idea, the BBC announced that it had put Television Centre at White City in London on the market. Loved and hated, probably in equal measure, the complex is nonetheless a national landmark. Over half a century, it has received dignitaries and celebrities of all ages from all corners of the world. As Bush House has been to international radio, so the image of the limousine gliding up to Television Centre is to national television.
Some may see the impending sale only as evidence of hard times for public service broadcasting. It is at least as much about obsolescence and change. The requirements of television production have been transformed almost beyond recognition since Television Centre was opened in 1960. In the coming months, BBC News is moving to central London; sport and children's programmes are off to Salford. And – lest anyone threaten a tantrum at its loss to the nation – the Blue Peter garden's future is secure; it is going, too.
Television Centre, though, has a proud history. For all the unlovely architectural excrescences that proliferated around it, the elegant core remains – and the memories. It would be a pity if a new owner did not feel that, in some form or other, both were worth preserving.