“ Address: BBC Television Centre / Wood Lane / London / W12 7RJ / England „
Ever fancied seeing the Blue Peter garden? Having your photo taken by the TARDIS? Taking part in the making of a TV programme? Then this is the tour for you. It's fantastic.
This tour is aimed at children aged between 7 and 12 but I did this recently and I loved it, and I'm a pretty big grown-up now (outwardly at least). To take the tour you have to visit the BBC studios in Wood Lane. The nearest tubes are White City or Wood Lane depending on which line you use. it is probably advisable to book and you can do this by following the link on the BBC website.
Family £27.00 (2 adults, 2 children)
To take the tour you meet in the main reception area of the BBC, where, if you are lucky, you might spot a star or two travelling through. We saw a group of young ladies who my friend thought was The Saturdays (I wouldn't know them if they had a sign round their necks saying 'The Saturdays') and Chris Hollins (I know him!) Then your tour guide arrives and the first thing they say is 'What do you do if you see a star whilst in the BBC?' To which the children had various answers such as 'Scream', 'Ask for their autograph', 'Faint' or possibly all three! No, the answer is ignore them because they are just there to do their job. Shame!
The tours take different routes each time, but the one my group of children did went as follows:
1. Stop at the Prank Patrol Van for a photo opportunity. Try peering inside it.
2. Stop at the TARDIS for another photo opportunity.
3. Visit the Blue Peter garden. Be amazed by how small it actually is.
4. Inside the building follow the guide through lots of winding corridors to a small studio with lots of exciting things in it. There are various EastEnders costumes on manikins by the door, including Syed and Amira's wedding outfits and the clothes Archie Mitchell was murdered in. Then there are several rows of benches for the children to sit on. In front of you is a TV set, with a Newsround desk, a big screen and a game show area complete with giant buzzer buttons. The guides picks out several children to be the contestants, 2 to be presenters, a cameraman and 2 children to go to a seperate room to be the technical guys who do the cueing up of pre-recorded sounds and visuals and to do the announcing between the shows. The guide oversees the whole thing. The children learn how TV works.
5. See inside a special guest dressing room which is really just a holding area so everyone knows where they are when needed. Learn that whilst in this room guests can ask for (almost) anything they want. Someone once asked for puppies to play with and were told no!
6. Walk upstairs to the weather department and learn how weather presenters use blue screen technology. Have a go.
7. See inside a real TV studio.
8. Go to another pretend studio where you get to make more films such as 'Raven' and 'Dic and Dom' - the bit where they do the mini-me thing. (My knowledge of BBC programmes was stretched at this point as I don't actually know those two.)
Then it was back to the exit where the children were presented with little CBBC dog tags. This all lasted about an hour and a half. I thought it was great, so did all of the children, although my colleague moaned that is was a bit Disney-like and contrived. Each to his own I suppose. I would thoroughly recommend it for all children who watch telly.