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Something Old, Something News

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If I were to compose a Top 5 list of things I love about TV √° la High Fidelity, the BBC Television Centre would definitely be on it, up there with The West Wing and Pete Campbell's wife. So I was as crestfallen as everyone else was at the news it was going to be taken out of commission, presumably to be replaced with either a tokenistic museum or flats for brash trendies with Porsches and genitals the size of toothpaste caps.

The decision was made in view of a rationalisation of assets, but in this regard the BBC has made too literal an interpretation of the word. What greater asset is there, culturally and symbolically, than TVC? It's practically a place of worship. From the days of seeing it in the opening credits of Live & Kicking I wanted to work there, and I'm far from the only one so affected. When I eventually did work there, on the night of the 2010 general election, I felt like Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes To Washington.

I also worked down the road for the BBC at White City, a place not without history itself (the building was erected on the site of the 1908 Olympic stadium, and the reason why the modern marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards) but it was always TVC I got gooey-eyed walking past. No harm or disrespect to Salford, but it just can't compete with Wood Lane.

Mark Gattiss, co-creator of Sherlock and thus significantly smarter than everyone else, put it best when he said that knowing the BBC in a couple of years they'll issue a report identifying the need for some kind of HQ.

The BBC is one of the few public services in the whole world that works pretty much as it ought to and is wildly popular for it (the odd rabid right wing commentator or tycoon with vested interests notwithstanding), so it's disappointing their top brass think hawking off TVC is a good idea. If it's changing stuff for change's sake they want, I have a suggestion that's much less damaging: a new BBC News theme.

In all fairness, it's time for a new one. I'm as big a fan as the trance remix of the Greenwich Pips (not to be mixed up with Gladys Knight's arguably much more successful outfit) as the next guy, but it has been about now since 1999, mad as that is to believe. What's more, it's the same for every bulletin. It didn't used to be like that. Oh no, it didn't used to be like that at all.

Back in the nineties for instance, a magical decade where anything from white Canadians releasing reggae smash hits to Blackburn Rovers winning the Premiership was possible, every major bulletin had their own theme.

There was the sprightly One O'Clock News, the more gravitas-laden Six O'Clock News and my personal favourite at Nine O'Clock, where the theme was so powerfully intense they could only put it on after the watershed. Of course, that trend existed before, but from 1993 the existing themes and studio were tricked out with added orchestral prelude and virtual reality visuals. The changes were to great effect, as nothing says "Silence, I am the news!" like imposing music and a large silver family crest type thing that isn't really there.

Alas, the days of news presenters appearing before our very eyes reading headlines like "MRS THATCHER EATS NORMAN LAMONT" and hosting shows about terrifying real-life accidents are long gone. But now, 12 years after it was introduced, maybe it's time for something new, especially since the News HQ is moving to Broadcasting House. From Television Centre.