'Soulless' BBC to sell Television Centre

By Ian Burrell,Media Editor
Sunday 23 October 2011 02:57

The BBC presenter Danny Baker launched a tirade of invective against his employers yesterday as it was announced that the Television Centre building in London was being put up for sale.

Baker, who recently returned to the radio airwaves after seven months of treatment for cancer, accused the BBC's management of being "soulless crumbs" for selling the studios where programmes such as I Claudius and Monty Python's Flying Circus were made.

Baker said the Corporation's executives were "cynical, hypocritical creeps" for offloading Television Centre while claiming to support the upkeep of historic buildings. "From the company that brought you Restoration – saving the nation's heritage. Soulless, soulless bastards," the award-winning 5 Live presenter wrote on Twitter.

The BBC aims to capitalise on a shortage of high-quality premises in central London by selling Television Centre, but new buyers will be expected to preserve the frontage that is recognisable to generations of viewers.

The brick exterior to Studio One, where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed, along with the glass-panelled circular core known to BBC staff as "The Doughnut", are listed with special-interest status. Although 5,000 BBC staff still work in the centre, by 2015 they will all have been moved to more modern offices in the new Media City UK in Salford (which Baker yesterday referred to as a "white elephant"), the refurbished Broadcasting House in central London and the Media Village Campus, a short walk from the Television Centre in White City, west London. The BBC is looking to reduce the size of its property portfolio by 30 per cent.

The sale of the Television Centre was first mooted in 2007. The building, designed by Graham Dawbarn, opened in 1960.

Chris Kane, head of BBC Workplace, said: "With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a shortage of landmark sites as distinctive as Television Centre, we anticipate strong competition for both conventional and innovative proposals."

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