BBC to Close Maida Vale StudiosBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 5 June 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Delia Derbyshire,, Desmond Briscoe, BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Credit: BBC)


The BBC is to close its Madia Vale studios, the former home of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the place where many of the iconic sounds used in Doctor Who were created.

The studios, based in west London, have been used by the BBC since 1933 when the corporation took over the former Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club and converted it to music studios. Since then it has hosted tens of thousands of recordings, from grand orchestral performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra to rock recordings by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Jay-Z, The Beatles and David Bowie, to popular artists such as Bing Crosby, who, in 1977, made his last recording in the studios, three days before he died.

From 1958 until 1998 it was the home of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the body charged with producing most of the music and special sounds when a new science fiction series was launched in 1963.

It was in this building that the sheet music for the new Doctor Who Theme music, written by Ron Grainer, arrived, leaving workshop staff Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills to render the tune electronically. This they achieved by generating each note separately and physically splicing them together on quarter-inch magnetic tape. The resulting music has become one of television's most recognisable and iconic theme tunes.

It was in this building that Brian Hodgson, charged with finding a sound for the new spaceship, ran his keys across a set of piano strings and gave birth to the wheezing groaning sound of the TARDIS dematerialising. It was here the sounds of the Dalek Ship, the Sonic Screwdriver and so many more were created, some of which are still used in the series today.

The closure of the studios, after over 80 years, was announced by BBC Director general Tony Hall. He said the complex would be replaced by a new, state-of-the-art facility at the former Olympic Park in east London.