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BBC to close down its iconic Maida Vale Studios

The legendary complex is said to be “wholly unsuitable for the 21st century”…

The BBC is set to close down its iconic Maida Vale Studios as the broadcaster prepares to relocate to East London.

In a staff-wide email, Director General Tony Hall announced that the BBC will relocate to a new, state-of-the-art facility in Olympic Park in Stratford where it will “be able to record and broadcast more live music than ever before.” The move is expected to happen by 2022. 

Originally built in 1909 as a roller-skating venue, Maida Vale Studios became home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1930s. Over the years, the complex became known around the world as the host home for famed BBC DJ and radio presenter John Peel and his renowned Radio 1 sessions. It also hosted BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, a sound effects unit known for its early work in electronic music and the location where the score and theme song for the Doctor Who TV show was created, until it closed in 1998.

Recently, the space has hosted performances from major pop, rock and hip-hop artists like Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Jay-Z, Little Mix and several others. As well, legendary recording artists like The Beatles, David Bowie and The Fall have each released retrospective projects of their BBC performances. On the electronic front, Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin have also performed at Maida Vale Studios.

“I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences,” said Hall in his email. “We haven’t taken this decision lightly. But we’re determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC and moving to this new development gives us the opportunity to do just that.” 

The BBC had been considering a closure of the Maida Vale Studios for many years. In 2007, the BBC called the facility “wholly unsuitable for the 21st century”.

The new BBC location will feature recording and rehearsal studios and a purpose-built base for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the BBC Singers. The BBC Concert Orchestra will also use the new space on the regular. 

BBC has also pledged to work with schools in its new East London home by running music sessions, making digital music resources available and partnering with local education groups on other music projects. 

“This proposed new building will act as a magnet for music development in east London and will allow us to share our music facilities and expertise with local, diverse communities as well as being a much better place for our brilliant music staff to work from,” said BBC Director of Radio and Education James Purnell.

In other BBC news, the broadcaster has opened up its sound FX archive for free download.

Photo taken from The Guardian. Image by Andy Sheppard/Redferns.

Watch Dusky perform ‘Long Wait’ with Solomon Grey on Pete Tong’s Maida Vale Session in 2016 below.