London Calling

Live at the BBC

One of the most iconic symbols of life in late 20th century Britain was the BBC TV Centre in Wood Lane, White City, West London. The original design of the building was conceived by architect Graham Dawbarn CBE in the years immediately after WWII after he sketched a design which looked like a question mark when seen from the air.

Building started in 1950 only to be halted shortly afterwards by post-war austerity restrictions still in place on building materials. Work re-commenced in 1950 and the completed building opened on June 29, 1960.

In 2011, the BBC announced it would cease broadcasting from Television Centre in 2013 and the building, which had become affectionately known by all who worked there as ‘the doughnut’, faced an uncertain future.

The huge rambling building was bought by developers Stanhope PLC in 2012 for £200 million (€224 million) and since then construction workers have been toiling to transform the place. There will be some 1,000 new homes, restaurants, bars, a Soho House private members’ club and a hotel. Rather aptly-named ‘studio’ apartments are on the market for £550,000 (€617,000) with larger properties carrying significantly higher price tags!

This month, much of the hoarding around the former TV Centre has been removed allowing members of the public to walk most of the 14-acre (5.7 hectare) site, treading in the very footsteps of the TV greats like Terry Wogan, Bruce Forsythe, Morecambe and Wise and the rest. Public access will continue once the site is fully finished and the new residents move in.

Alistair Shaw, managing director of Stanhope PLC, contrasted this with the totally insular world that existed there when it was the TV Centre, commenting: “It was always built as a gated community, it was completely insulated from the outside world. It had its own hairdressers, even a travel agent; the idea was that it functioned 24/7 and you had no reason to go out.”

One local resident, Tieyan Eweka, welcomed the new access, saying: “So many iconic TV programmes were made here, it’s amazing this is the first time it’s been open freely.”

Pennies from Heaven?

In India last month, a large frozen object fell to earth and villagers quickly broke off bits and rushed them home to store in the few refrigerators they had and other cool places. They believed they were saving valuable pieces of meteorite and space ice. Sadly, when the authorities told them it was frozen human waste from an aircraft, they had the mother of all cleaning jobs on their hands!

A similar event happened in genteel Kew, where the famous gardens are located, in West London. This time locals were not fooled though, as the smart neighbourhood is under the direct flightpath into Heathrow airport, just a couple of miles away.

Several people saw the strike including council worker Serhiy Myeshkov who came close to being hit and said it smashed onto the street ‘like a meteorite’. A nearby taxi firm, International Chauffeurs, captured the incident on a security camera and Amir Khan at the company said: “It was like the start of a disaster movie.” Probably best to try to sell the footage on YouTube than get too close to the stuff!

#Meat Too!

Here’s an interesting London take on a current hot topic. Near Waterloo station, a restaurant called ‘The Vaults’ is the setting for a dinner show like no other.

The all-female creative collective called I AM is bringing ‘An Evening of Meat’ experience to diners. This will comprise a six-course, meat-based meal – all consumed whilst five dancers led by creative director Kate March perform a table-top choreographed dance during which the idea is to positively explore female bodies.

Ms March says: “The most active dances – including crawling along tables quickly, doing headstands and acting in character – take place on the tables between courses. I thought that if I made this a dinner format that people can understand, maybe they will get more into it, and open their minds a little bit.”

She added: “If something is provocative or sexy, it is done in a tasteful, lifting way, rather than ‘this is a man looking at my body, let me see if I can feed into his fantasy’, or traditional concepts of what makes someone beautiful.”

Previous performances have taken place in Berlin, Sydney and Hong Kong and even at star-studded parties in front of the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and supermodel Adriana Lima. Good luck to the guys who suggest an empowering steak night at the Vaults between March 27 and April 22!

By Royal appointment

There is lots going on in Battersea, the smart suburb directly across the Thames from Chelsea. The incredible new US Embassy has opened, though of course the honours were famously not performed by President Donald Trump who was grumpy about the cost and what he thought was the under-selling of the old building in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. The new building is visually stunning with all kinds of security protection – including a moat!

Nearby, the iconic Battersea Power Station and surrounding area is a hive of activity as new flats, shops, restaurants and a virtual small town are built on the site. The power station itself was sold last month for a record-breaking £1.6 billion (€1.8 billion) to Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Permodalan Nasional Berhad. This was one of the largest real estate transactions the world has seen.

And now the Queen’s florist is opening a new flower shop and floristry school in the £9 billion (€10.1 billion) development! Royal Warrant holder, Moyses Stevens, created bouquets for the Queen’s bridesmaids at her wedding in 1947 and other famous clients include the Duchess of Cambridge, Beyoncé and Claudia Schiffer. No doubt they are gearing up for the next Royal wedding extravaganza in May.

Other high-profile businesses have also recently committed to move into the area including an independent cinema which will be located within the railway arches on the complex and is a sister-venue to the fantastic Olympic Cinema in the old music studios at Barnes, South West London. A microbrewery and two Asiatic restaurants are also on the list and the developers’ plans of making the area a ‘go to’ place in its own right are well on track.

Rob Tincknell, Chief Executive of the Battersea Power Station Development Company said: “We are delighted to welcome to the line-up several more fantastic operators that share our passion for creating a new, unique, community-focused destination for London.”


Richard leads parallel lives with homes and business interests in London and Portugal. He provides consultancy services to leading businesses in insurance and financial services, property and media sectors. He has four sons, two dogs and enjoys a busy family life. He likes swimming, keeping fit and an outdoor life.