Your Place of Work, Live on TV

Published on 21 January 2007 in , , , ,

I feel I have to say something.

To be frank, I am getting just plain fed up of seeing the offices I work in, on TV.

I’m saying this having just watched BBC Four’s Mark Lawson talks to Armando Iannucci which was shown just after New Year, where Mark and Armando are sat in, what looks very much like the 5th floor of the BBC’s Media Centre in White City.

Atrium, Broadcast Centre

Photograph by Martin Deutsch, released under a Creative Commons licence

The Media Centre is the building next door to where I work – the Broadcast Centre – and is very similar. No walls, wood staircases, giant atriums, lifts which break down every five minutes, depressing views from windows and so on. It’s a soul destroying place. And to be frank, it’s a little annoying being reminded of where I work when I’m sat down trying to relax!

It’s not just Mark Lawson talks to Armando Iannucci which uses it as a backdrop. For example, the new-look Panorama is, for some unknown reason, presented by Jeremy Vine standing in a raincoat just outside the main door, whilst a large wooden Panorama logo is illuminated in coloured light in an empty room in the background.

Absolute Power used it in several episodes, where in one, the outside of the pizza/pasta place was morphed into a shopping centre. Parts of one episode of the Mark Steel Lectures were filmed in the wine bar… Interviews seem to be recorded in our large meeting space for no apparent reason. The Politics Show uses it as its backdrop, as does Sunday AM although from a different angle. And if the News need to do a report about supermarkets, well there’s a Tesco Express on the site.

Barely a week goes by when there isn’t a camera and sound booms set up somewhere in the area. It’s like people just want some “modern, trendy office” and they just go and wander up to see us. In a way it feels rather self-obsessed. Oh look at all these “lovely” offices we have – so good that we can use them as backdrops over and over and over and over…

On the other hand, there is at least a link between Armando Iannucci and the Media Centre – in the form of The Thick of It. The third episode of the second series saw the Department of Social Affairs move offices to some new “ultra-modern” offices. Part of the plot line involves the staff hating their new environment, with it having no privacy, and nothing works properly.

Funnily enough, it’s filmed inside the BBC’s Media Centre and if the relevant parts of the script weren’t firmly based on actual experiences of using that building, well please do pass me a knife, a fork and a hat.