The hoardings surrounding the famous “doughnut” building in Shepherds Bush that was the nerve centre of BBC TV for more than half a century were removed last night.
The 14-acre complex, where many of the corporation’s longest-running shows such as Blue Peter and Match Of The Day were made, and where such stars as Sir Bruce Forsyth and Sir Terry Wogan worked, opened in 1960.
But the site in Wood Lane was sold to developers Stanhope in a £200 million deal in 2012 and has been a secure building site for the past four years.
Construction teams have worked to turn the labyrinthine building into a complex with apartments, restaurants, a Soho House private members’ club and a hotel — as well as new working space. The first residents of the 950 apartments — which start from £550,000 for a studio — began to move in this week. The public will be able to wander on the landscaped forecourt of the Grade II listed circular building, famously designed by architect Graham Dawbarn on the back of an envelope.
They will also be free to walk around the Helios fountain and statue at the centre of the doughnut where Record Breakers host Roy Castle achieved the world’s largest tap dance in 1977.
The restaurants and bars around the forecourt, as well as the ground floor of Soho House will also be open to visitors. Alistair Shaw, managing director of the TV Centre development at Stanhope, said: “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.”
Local residents welcomed the new access. Dennis Buckley, 62, said: “It’s good that people are able to look around. For years it was locked down and you couldn’t get the benefit of seeing in.”
Tieyan Eweka, who runs the Nigerian street food company Jollof Mama, said: “So many iconic TV programmes were made here, it’s amazing this is the first time it’s been open freely.”