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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 49 - In the Studio > Television Centre

Television Centre

Affectionately described by Terry Wogan as the “Concrete Doughnut”, Television Centre is now a Grade II-listed building. For more than two decades it was home to Doctor Who…
The original stars of Doctor Who – Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill, William Russell and William Hartnell – celebrate the sale of the series to New Zealand, Australia and, most recently, Canada, in the Bridge Lounge at Television Centre on Tuesday 20 October 1964.
BBC Television Centre, pictured in 1978.

“The new Television Centre, now under construction near Shepherds Bush, in West London, is a vast project covering a 13-acre site; it is the first centre of its size and scope to be built in Europe for the highly specialized requirements of television,” noted the BBC Handbook 1960. “Into the design and the planning of the equipment has gone all the knowhow acquired by the BBC in pioneering and developing television since 1936.”

The Corporations West London temple to television began in 1951 as the White City Project, developing the site of the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition at Shepherds Bush into a combination of studio, administration and design spaces to consolidate BBC TVs demands for the rest of the century. Standing seven storeys high, with studios radiating out below offices, the building saw some of its facilities come into use as early as January 1954, but the Centre formally opened with a star-studded 70-minute spectacular called First Night, screened live on Wednesday 29 June 1960.

Unlike Lime Grove, Riverside or Ealing, which had been repurposed film studios, this new facility was expressly designed for an emerging medium, and would become a legendary hub producing generations of world-famous series. “It was a selfcontained city,” recalled director Waris Hussein in 2012. “It reminded me of what Hollywood must have been like.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In 1963 Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson devised an ambitious concept that would stretch the BBC’s technical resources to the limit. In its earliest days Doctor Who was jeopardised by a fierce dispute over facilities. The programme survived, but never stopped demanding the very best from its studios and dedicated crews. This is the inside story of Doctor Who’s evolution from relatively primitive beginnings to the cutting edge of modern television production.