Graham Benson reflects on the many years he spent producing plays at the BBC’s west London complex
This week is the 60th birthday of BBC Television Centre in White City, west London (BBC Television Centre: 60 years of history in pictures, 26 June). It is to be celebrated, so I read, but it is difficult for me and the thousands of others who worked there to see that it is now luxury accommodation. From 1968 until 1977 and then again in the early 1980s, I was on the fifth floor with the rest of the drama/plays team – a formidable collection – working and playing hard in that great circular edifice that took over our lives.
Our days were spent producing a mesmerising number of plays reflecting the nation’s state as well as entertaining audiences. In the evening, we packed the bar, and much of the creativity that emerged was thanks to a place where we could wind down and share ideas. I remember the attempted smash and grab on the ground floor cashier’s office, which those behind the safety screen thought was a bit of Z Cars filming – until the real officers turned up! When I returned in 1984 after a spell elsewhere, Vic, the legendary one-armed commissionaire, called out as I walked through the main gate: “Hello, Mr Benson! Been on location?” We’ll always cherish Television Centre.
Ventnor, Isle of Wight