The BBC have been criticised for not properly promoting a series of auctions of memorabilia, from Television Centre, the last of which raised only £100,000. The under publicised sale sold valuable Studio signs and backdrops in the auction, alongside large items such as industrial washing machines and a cherry-picker lorry. Television Centre was built in 1960. The BBC sold it to developers in 2012 for a reported £200m and moved operations to other buildings or cities.
Among the lots sold in the sale were a vintage microphone and a test card. Items from Studio 8 – which housed classic shows such as Fawlty Towers and Monty Python’s Flying Circus – attracted a number of bids, with one clock fetching £780, and the “Studio 8” sign going for £478. The “flesh tone” test card sold for £1,250.One of the highest bids was for a huge generator, which went for £16,000 in keeping with the nature of the auctioneers selected for the sale. Other items included, a Match of the Day backdrop, signed Strictly Come Dancing photographs and a Doctor Who canvas. This is the second-such auction to be held. The last one held in June raised £90,000, and included a desk from the set of Newsnight.
A previous auction saw an entire Blue Peter studio sold off, as well as Jeremy Paxman’s Newsnight desk and cardboard Doctor Who Daleks. Chris Kane, director of commercial projects, said: “This auction marks the end of one chapter of the BBC’s relationship with this iconic building and I hope that the winning bidders will enjoy their own small piece of TV history, a spokes person for the BBC stated.
It is very important to choose an auctioneer that is fit for purpose for a sale as important as the BBC. Many of the better known London salerooms have specialist auctions of entertainment memorabilia. Several items in the BBC sale, including technical equipment, however excluding generators and washing machines would have been far more suited to a company like Bonham’s with their dedicated memorabilia department. “The BBC would most likely have achieved a much higher total- consigning memorabilia to an industrial/commercial auctioneers is just lazy”, our auction reporter lamented.
The little known firm Peaker Pattinson, known mostly as bankruptcy auctioneers, were used to sell off the contents. The BBC stated that; “The sale of Television Centre has generated huge savings for licence fee payers and with BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios and Post Production set to return, a new chapter is just about to begin.” This is yet another example of BBC incompetence. They are in such a rush to offload the family jewels, they’re just making mistake after mistake… They do not understand the market value for their vast store of memorabilia and archival content and this is a huge loss to the nation as a whole.
BBC Television Centre Photo: Lewis Clarke Creative Commons