Friday, 11 July 2014

BBC New Broadcasting House and the riddle of the 8th floor.

Yesterday found me traversing our capital city on my way to collect my network news ID card that allows unfettered access to the largest newsroom in Europe. Having been offered the chance of freelance shifts, i had to go to BBC New Broadcasting House in London...

BBC New Broadcasting House...

 I could now walk the corridors and meeting rooms of the BBC. I could watch John Humphrys eat a doughnut, see Huw Edwards on his cigarette break behind the bike shed, or look longingly into the eyes of Sophie Raworth over a hot frothy latte in the canteen as she flicks her golden locks over her shoulder, coyly smiles at me and pats the seat next to her with her ruby red polished fingernails glinting under the lights, before she... ahem...

Sorry, i was typing out loud again...

Anyway, having picked up my sparkly new ID, showing your author in a smart pose with a coquettish smile and chiselled, lantern jawed features, i followed on to the BBC New Broadcasting House induction lecture. The induction lecture, i was told, would teach us where all the good parties are, followed by a free champagne lunch, a chat with the Director General and AAA passes to the next Glastonbury festival.

Someone obviously had a sense of humour...

I did in fact, learn what to do in the event of fire or other unforseen disasters, where the toilets were, how to open and close the doors without giving yourself a severe injury and basically not to act like a dick in front of the studios where you could be captured on camera behind the newsreaders.

They also told us what departments were on which floor. Reception and production areas on the ground floor, newsroom and studios on -1 and -2 and the cameramen on -3 next to the bins. Floors 1 to 7 contained various news departments and show production areas for TV, Radio and online and on floor 8, the cool and hip Radio 1.

We had access to anywhere... Except floor 8, where a 'special' pass is required. I have no idea why, but my imagination was piqued and started to wander from the explanation of how to use the spiral staircase without going dizzy and killing yourself.

My guess is that it's because Radio 1 plays host to super hot rock and pop stars who don't want to be bothered by the ungodly proles that inhabit the lesser levels. That and the free flow of champagne and expensive brandy, along with a phallanx of lovely looking rock chicks and hipsters, a jar of nutella and a warm spoon. But that's just a guess mind you... Or 'speculation' as we in the news industry call it. So i decided to try and find out, there and then...

8th Floor reception, BBC NBH, Thursday, about tea time:

Me: "Hello, i'm new here... Is this where i can find the BBC Sartorial Elegance Department..?"

Receptionist: "Maybe... Did Robert Peston send you..?"

Me: "Err... No. It's just that i would..."

Receptionist: "Have you got your 'special' pass..?"

Me: (Reveals jar of Nutella and a spoon) "I was given these, and..."

Receptionist: "Get out... Or i'll call security."

Well i tried... So in the interests of you, my faithful readers, i shall over the coming months endeavor to find out the truth of the 8th floor and the goings on that necessitate the requirement of a 'special' pass. As you know, here at the ukcameraman Institute of TV News Studies i never give up on rooting out the truth wherever it hides, and if the truth eludes me then i could always speculate further.

So if you should see me hovering around the lifts on Floor 7 with a jar of Nutella and a large serving spoon, keep schtum... I'll get back to you.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.