As part of McGee’s contract to carry out the dismantlement of various sections of Television Centre in White City, the iconic satellite dishes have been safely taken down as part of the site’s redevelopment, which is set to include a hotel, new homes, offices, cafes, restaurants, a gym and a roof-top pool.
The 20 dishes were used by the BBC to receive and broadcast major world news and sporting events including wars, Olympic Games and General Elections. The final dish to be removed, which was 11 metres in diameter and weighed in at 8.4 tonnes, was used to distribute programming in the UK. Other dishes were used to receive content from BBC correspondents around the world and other broadcasters.
The BBC started using its own satellite broadcasting facilities at Television Centre at the time of the first Gulf War in the early 90s, and the dishes now being removed were installed over the following years.
Lifting a dish of this nature is not a straight forward operation as Tom Harvey, Assistant Project Manager, appreciates. Tom had to carry out a considerable amount of background checks on how to lift the dishes. This all had to be done in close coordination with the company carrying out the lift operations – Lucas Projects. Also, London Underground and Transport for London due to the close proximity, and therefore added complexities, of the Hammersmith and City Tube line.
Lynden Potter, BBC Head of Technology Delivery for Major Projects, said the International Control Room which for more than 50 years was a vital link between BBC sites, correspondents and other broadcasters in the UK and the rest of the world, was one of the last functions to leave Television Centre in 2014.
Well done to all of the site team involved in the meticulous planning and execution of this very unusual dismantling project.
The first phase of the redevelopment of Television Centre is due to open in 2017.