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BBC to Close Iconic Maida Vale Studios

By Steve Harvey. The BBC intends to close and replace its iconic Maida Vale Studios.

London, UK (June 8, 2018)—The BBC has announced that it intends to close and replace its iconic Maida Vale Studios, which over the years have hosted sessions from the likes of Bing Crosby, the Beatles and David Bowie.

Director general Tony Hall announced the closure in an email to staff on June 5, 2018. The north London facility, which opened in 1909, has been under threat of closure for years, having been described by the BBC as “wholly unsuitable for the 21st century.”

In his email, Hall wrote: “I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences. 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.”

BBC Honors Musical Heritage

Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak> and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich took to Twitter upon hearing the news, addressing artists, musicians, DJs and fans. “Please use this hash tag to tell the BBC they are wrong to close down the historic Maida Vale Studio and replace it with a new building #BBCSaveMaidaVale,” wrote Barrow.

“This is absolutely insane,” tweeted Godrich. “Don’t destroy this incredibly important part of our cultural heritage – every bit as important as Abbey Road studios….stop!!!!”

An Inspirational Rejection

The public broadcaster intends to replace the complex with a new facility in east London at the Olympic Park in Stratford alongside the V&A (art and design museum), Sadler’s Wells dance theater and the London College of Fashion. The new facilities are expected to be completed by 2020 and will reportedly include recording and rehearsal studios that provide a purpose-built base for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the BBC Singers, as well as the BBC Concert Orchestra. They will also be used to produce broadcast performances for BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and BBC Introducing.

Maida Vale Studios are perhaps best known for hosting live performance recordings for DJ John Peel’s Radio 1 shows. Over the years, the facility hosted live recording sessions by a long list of artists including the Beatles, David Bowie, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Adele, Jay-Z, Nirvana, Joy Division and Oasis. Some of those sessions have been released as retrospective albums.

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The BBC Symphony Orchestra made the multi-studio complex its home beginning in the thirties and continues to use the facility for rehearsals, performances and recordings. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, well known for its Doctor Who TV series theme tune and pioneering electronic sound design and music work by Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and others, was based there until 1998, when the department was closed. Bing Crosby made his final recordings at Maida Vale Studios in 1977, just days before he died.