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I recently took part in the BBC Tour for the second time in 2 years. It is an absolutely enthralling tour, which makes a nice change for those wishing to leave the hustle and bustle of central London and do something a little bit different to the usual Big Ben/Trafalger/Wheel sights. It's also a handy option for those who perfer to shop til they drop in the new Westfield Centre, adjacent to TV Centre.
Booking the BBC Tour was easy. Via the BBC website, a freephone number allows you to book tickets at just £9.30 per adult. Book as far in advance as possible as they are very popular - especially if you want to go at the weekend. The Centre itself can easily be reached on the tube, with the station itself right outside the studios.
The tour itself takes about 2 hours and is conducted with 2 very knowledgable guides who literally know everything and anything about TV Centre. The building itself is old, mis-managed and not as new-fangled and state-of-the-art as they may prefer you to believe. If you get the chance, look in a few rooms while the guides rish you through the building and don't be suprised to see paint crumbling and carpets thredding away. It is no wonder they are planning on tearing the building down in years to come.
The tour was informative and interesting. We visited Strictly Come Dancing studios, weather bureaux, make-up rooms and a mock Weakest Link studio, where the tour group had a chance to win prizes. We also saw the BBC Cafe (Look out for famous faces here; I spotted Toadfish from Neighbours having a cappuchino). The most fascinating part of the tour was the BBC News room which was cutting edge, modern and quite obviously, the hub of the TV Centre - lots of rushing around and hustle and bustle.
The tour group itself was small (about 10 people) which allowed some joviality and fun between us all. The only gripe with the tour, was that it seemed rushed and the guides seemed too keen to usher us all on when I wanted to stop a bit and look around, or even catch my breath. All in all, though, a recommended and often overlooked option for a visit to London.