Behind the scenes at the BBC

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It was an eventful and stormy day when MMU’s PR students visited BBC MediaCity for a guided tour recently as part of the PR Skills and Competences unit, followed by a fascinating talk from BBC staff giving an insight into some of the challenges the organisation faces.

Led by a knowledgeable tour guide, we were taken behind the scenes at the BBC offices and studios at MediaCity in Salford Quays, where part of the BBC has been based since it moved ‘up North’ in 2011. A complex operation housed in a range of impressive modern buildings, we were shown around various studios and given an insight into how programmes such as Question of Sport, Blue Peter and North West Tonight are recorded, looking at the camera equipment, lighting and finding out more about how these programmes are put together. Along the way we passed Dr Who’s TARDIS, a noisy Dalek, the Countdown Clock, and although there were rumours that Gary Linneker was on his way, unfortunately we didn’t meet him! We also passed a line of audience members waiting to take part in a recording of the Jeremy Kyle Show, as a range of ITV programmes are also filmed at the BBC. The 90-minute tour ended with an opportunity to join in the fun and present our own news programme, weather bulletin or appear on Question of Sport – many thanks to Josie, Gerard, Haseeb and Jonathan for taking the plunge and volunteering to take part in those. And we got a chance to look at some of the gruesome props used in Horrible Histories too!

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After the tour we went into the modern and colourful BBC offices, and were shown into a boardroom with a panoramic view over Salford Quays. Here we were given a fantastic insight into the workings of the BBC with special talks by Christine Bellamy, Business Manager, BBC Future Media who explained the challenges facing the BBC at present given its funding structure and potential implications for programming content and quality when the licence fee is reviewed by the Government in 2017. Lucie McClean, Product Development Manager looking after Sport and Digital Development, then explained the importance of online content by the BBC for major sporting events such as the London 2012 Olympics, the Sochi Winter Games and the forthcoming World Cup. Lucie explained how content needs to be shaped for apps, tablets, PCs and so on – and discussed the constant challenge of combining high-quality programming with value for money.

All in all it was a great afternoon with some very interesting insights into how the BBC operates. We came out of our visit into a storm and it took many of us quite a few hours to get home afterwards as local transport was disrupted by torrential rain and 100mph winds. But it was worth it – as the photos show!

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