Those were the days

by Louis Barfe

A couple of months ago, it was announced that the BBC was to abandon its famous maida vale music studios, once home of the Radiophonic Workshop and many a Peel session. The plan is to move the operation to a new facility at the Olympic Park in east London, but however good the new studios are, nothing will be able to replace the sense of history that most musicians and actors feel when working at the old place.

Studio 3 (MV3 to those in the know) was where Bing Crosby made his last recordings, just three days before he died in October 1977. There is a brass plaque on the wall of the studio commemorating Crosby, and the brass players of the BBC Big Band used to fireballs of rolled-up paper at it from the bells of their instruments. This irreverent sport was called ‘having a ping at Bing’.

The BBC currently has cause to be grateful that it hasn’t off-loaded the studios yet, because an urgent need to sort out the air conditioning at Wogan House has left Radio 2 temporarily homeless. Some shows are coming from Broadcasting House, but others, such as the Chris Evans Breakfast show and Steve Wright in the afternoon, are coming from a temporary lash-up in MV7, a drama studio used for storage since John Birt mothballed it.

Wright and Evans mention Maida Vale at every opportunity, and Evans’ show has become a love letter to the old pile. He keeps asking if he can stay there permanently, referring to a sound-effect staircase that leads nowhere, and he even insisted on taking Denzel Washington down under the acoustically-perfect floating floor to show him the springs. This is a very welcome act of subtle subversion from two broadcasters who love radio and its history passionately. Whatever you think of Evans or Wright, remember they are anoraks, too