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BBC Broadcasting House Tour & Bert Coules Talk
May 15, 2015
“It was my old housekeeper who heard of it first by that strange wireless by which such people collect the news of the countryside.”
A Society visit to Broadcasting House the home of the BBC
The first radio broadcast was made on 15 March 1932 and the building was officially opened two months later, on 15 May which means that our visit will be on its eighty third anniversary. The main building is in Art Deco style, with a facing of Portland stone over a steel frame. It is a Grade II* listed building and includes the BBC Radio Theatre, where music and special programmes are recorded in front of a studio audience. In June 2013 Her Majesty the Queen officially opened a major new extension to Broadcasting House, The John Peel Wing, which has provided a spacious and modern broadcast centre with state of the art technology for all BBC journalism.
The BBC Radio Theatre has a particular reference to followers of The Great Detective as the venue for many of the iconic recordings of canonical stories. In the 1940s and 1950s the BBC broadcast the finest radio productions of the canon with Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson as Holmes and Watson and then Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley followed with their equally memorable interpretations.
We have two tours booked – one at 1.30pm and the second one at 1.45pm. We may, depending on numbers, tour the building together in one group. Please express a preference for which tour, but we reserve the right to allocate people as necessary to ensure groups of the correct size. The tours last for approximately one and a half hours. Please arrive fifteen minutes before the start of your tour to allow for security checks. These take place outside the Media Café, which is located inside New Broadcasting House (please note it is not the café on the piazza). All tours start promptly from the Media Café off Main Reception; we cannot guarantee late entry.
The Tour is a walking tour and covers a fair distance. It will last about 90 minutes. If you are a wheelchair user please let us know as it has to be pre-booked. Security is understandably strict at Broadcasting House and we are asked not to bring large bags or sharp or pointed items. Photography is restricted and long-lensed cameras are not allowed. There will be several photo opportunities and our guides will point them out during the tour.
BBC Broadcasting House is in Portland Place, London W1A 1AA. Portland Place is just north of Oxford Circus and can be reached by walking north from Oxford Circus on Regent Street. The nearest tube stations are Oxford Circus on the Central, Bakerloo and Victoria Lines and Regent’s Park on the Bakerloo Line. Please use the entrance on Portland Place, along the left-hand side of the building, about 100 yards past the main entrance. There is usually a placard outside stating entrance for 'Shows and Tours.' Once you have entered the Media Café please go to the Tours desk on the right-hand side. Your guides will be at the desk 15 minutes before the start time of the tour.
Numbers will be strictly limited to 50 members and guests in two parties of 25; early booking is advised.
- Meet at 1.15pm or 1.30pm for tour at the Tours desk; nearest tube Oxford Circus or Regent’s Park.
- Charge – £18.50/ US$37.00 per person.
Friday 15th May 2015 Late Afternoon
Bert Coules – Sherlock Holmes for BBC Radio
Following the tours, we are delighted to announce that Bert Coules will be presenting a talk on the history of Holmes and Watson on BBC Radio. Bert was head writer for the complete BBC Radio 4 Canon project starring Clive Merrison and Michael Williams (1989-98) and then sole writer for The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (2002-10). Bert has recently hugely revised and expanded his original memoir for a new edition (221 BBC –Writing for the World’s Only Complete Dramatised Canon and Beyond (with Some Observations upon Previous Radio Appearances of Mr Sherlock Holmes & Dr John Watson, Gasogene Books, Indianapolis 2014, $22.95).
As well as talking about the various series with which he is so famously attached, Bert will discuss how attitudes to the characters and stories have evolved on BBC Radio over the years, exploring along the way the development of radio drama in general and the particular art of writing for a genre with no visuals. There will be audio clips of classic Holmesian wireless performances down the years. After his talk, Bert will be happy to take questions.
This will be a rare opportunity to engage with the head writer for one of the most famous ever series in any medium involving Sherlock Holmes. Roger Johnson will chair the event.
Priority booking for this event will be given to those who will just have taken part in the tours of Broadcasting House.
- Meet at 3.45pm at The Yorkshire Grey, 46 Langham Street, Marylebone, London, W1W 7AX (two minutes’ walk from Broadcasting House)
- Charge – Free. A cash bar will run throughout the meeting; coffee will be available
- Please note numbers are limited to 50