Monday, 31 August 2015

Tour Of Media City UK, Salford Quays

The other weekend I travelled to Manchester to meet up with my friend Debbi. We had pre-booked a tour of the TV studios at Media City UK at Salford Quays which was a short tram ride from the centre of the city. We got to the tram stop where a member of staff told us due to storm damage (a huge hole had appeared on the Mancunian Way during a rainstorm the previous day) we would not be able to take the tram direct to Media City but would have to get a bus to Cornbrook and then the tram the rest of the way. It was all very well organised, loads of staff directing people, but it made the journey last 30 minutes instead of ten, so our plan to get a quick breakfast before the tour was out of the window.

The tram stop was right beside the studios and we got there ten minutes before the start of the tour. We were given a laminate pass to wear round our necks and off we went. The first place they took us to was a room with a mock up of the Breakfast TV and Question of Sport sets. The staff got people to read the news and do the weather forecast and then have a quiz. It took quite a long time and I was rather underwhelmed, I expected to see more of the real thing not play about in a mock up. Though I did get a photo taken with the "cloak of invisibility" material which absorbs light (can't remember its proper name) from which the weather screen is made.

We then went to another building (nearly getting blown off our feet by the wind in the process) and into a radio studio (BBC 5 or 6, again can't remember which).  It was a small room with one window looking through to another studio, eagle eyed people noticed it was Craig Charles in there and we caught him opening up a bottle of wine, wish I could get away with that at work! There was lots of equipment which the guide explained to us, including the machine that makes phone call interviews sound as if the person is live in the studio. She also explained the roles of individuals who would be in the room when broadcasting. I found this room interesting, and the guide gave a good description of what happened in a radio studio.

Next we went into the "dead room," which was a u-shaped room with walls and ceiling covered in triangular pieces of grey foam. This room absorbs all sound and it was really strange  to be inside without the slightest echo, and even if someone is just around the corner you can't hear them. The sound absorption gave the room a claustrophobic feel.

Then it was into the Blue Peter studio which was surprisingly small, with a ceiling literally full of lights  and the place was a complete mess! The show was off air on holiday and maintenance was being done, though it looked as if the place was being destroyed.  The guides talked about the long-running programme and we saw all the different Blue Peter badges there have been. We were in there for a while and again I thought we could have done something more interesting and informative.

That was the end of the tour and both Debbi and I were somewhat disappointed with it. The guides were good and knew their stuff, but we had expected to see actual working studios and gain a real insight into the processes behind TV, however we did not get that, this was just a superficial look around the edges of the process.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I hope someone at the BBC takes note Sue and improves the tour. What a shame it was underwhelming but a very honest appraisal, nicely done.