Today we went to the BBC building on Oxford Road for one of their free tours. The tour guide lady (sorry didn’t catch her name, but she had one of those faces, where you think you know someone) was really good, we had ample time to ask questions and take photos. The first stop was Studio A, which has been used for lots of famous tv shows (that I can’t remember the names of), it was emtpy so not much to look at really. Then we went to look at another studio where the BBC philharmonic orchestra practise, now this was impressive, it had all these odd features to improve the sound which included these things hanging from the roof that looked almost like the wings on early planes and box types shapes stuck to the walls.
Next was a radio drama studio, where actors record radio shows – it had 3 types of flooring, a set of steps that were park wood, part carpet and part concrete for any scenario you might need, not to mention a fully stocked ‘kitchen’ with numerous props – it was a nice insight into how radio dramas are put together.
We also got to visit the radio studios where BBC radio Manchester is broadcast from, and watched on a small monitor the news lady – although she is situated near the front of the building to be near the news… or something like that.
The real highlight of the trip was up next – the Northwest Tonight Studio. A part time presenter (sorry can’t remember the name) was there and showed us how he worked the autocue, how to switch cameras and other tricks of the trade, they don’t have sheets of paper these days, but a Pc & monitor set underneath the glass desk. Visitors then had the option to have a go at reading the news or sit on the sofa they use for light pieces. We then went to the room where the directors and producers sit during the show with the various mixing desks and computers.
The final stop of the tour was in the BBC interactive suite, where if you should choose (we didn’t) you could read the weather, the same way the weather lady does (with no prompts or scripts), and then have it played back. We were also shown a promotional film about the new Media City opening at Salford Quays where BBC Manchester will relocate to in 2011.
Then we finished with a quick questionaire about the tour and were given a goody bag which was quite unexpected, and contained pens, a keyring, lots of leafets & info about BBC stuff and a DVD.
All in all a very nice afternoon out, the tour lasted about and hour and a half with plenty of time to photograph, ask questions and ‘have a go’.