A chorus of disapproval has grown about the destruction of the “iconic” old BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) building in Llandaff, from leading figures who used to work there, with newsreader Huw Edwards saying it was “strange”, and another declaring “Probably could have been renovated rather than demolished”, it has emerged.
Our Editor, Phil Parry, who worked as a journalist in the building for 23 years, said that it was a “sad sight”, while a former DJ at BBC Cymru Radio Wales (RW) proclaimed: “Llandaff was an ideal location”.
The one-time RW afternoon DJ, Mike Flynn, was described on Wkipedia as a “… main presenter for the first decade on air … who hosted a show each weekday until 1989”, and has condemned what has happened.
He told The Eye exclusively: “There was plenty of potential in the location to absorb both the new rented site and the new operations in Cardiff Bay. The BBC has been playing the money game for years
“Llandaff was a wonderful creative place destroyed by mismanagement. Sadly most of the BBC output these days is garbage.”
Iolo ap Dafydd, who was a television presenter in the old building which housed BBC CW, declared on Twitter: “(It) Probably could have been renovated rather than demolished. Yet to be seen how new developments impacts Llandaf. City centre looks particularly grim“.
Weather forecaster Sian Lloyd said: “I used to love it there (BH Llandaff). Sigh”.
Newsreader Huw Edwards said on the social media site: “Quite strange to see the iconic (hashtag) BBC Building in (hashtag) Llandaff being raised to the ground”.
Like many of his former colleagues, Mr Parry also mourned the loss of the old headquarters.
He said: “The Llandaff building is a sad sight now. A lot of memories came from there”.
Broadcasting House (BH) in Llandaff, Cardiff had been home to BBC CW since 1966, but in 2013 the corporation announced that it was putting the building (as well as ‘Ty Oldfield’ opposite) up for sale, and moving to another site.
The new £100 million site turned out to be in Cardiff’s Central Square.
In January 2020, the Architecture Journal said: “The east side of the (new) building contains the central support space, with desks arranged along the exterior perimeter or the edge of the central atrium, while on the west side the main content production space is located, with studios housed in a hub between” .
Alan Bainbridge, ‘Director of Workplace’, at the BBC, stated: “The (new) project successfully balances pragmatism and efficiency with a drive to create a very special broadcasting facility and a world class workplace for BBC Wales.
“The regeneration of a pivotal site in the heart of Cardiff is the setting for this transformational project. It forges close connections between broadcasting and the public, sets new standards for innovative flexible and cost-effective workplaces, and creates a new home for the BBC that is built specifically for the digital world”.
However the new building, and its location, have not been without controversy.
One worker there described it to The Eye as “soulless”
We reported how staff in another department believed that the new building only had room for a “fraction” of the numbers that were on the payroll at BH Llandaff, amid fears that the move was a precursor to merging them with another section.
Before, finally, moving in, one said: “This is a complete nonsense. Two years on and we still haven’t moved down there”.
A further BBC CW employee told The Eye: “This is just taking far too long – some of us have moved and some of us haven’t, and everyone is asking ‘when are we going to go down?’”.
The new headquarters was handed over to BBC CW in April 2018, and staff were told it would take 18 months to fit out the building, but several months after the key date passed, equipment was still in the ‘testing’ phase.
Officials were unable to say when broadcasting was to start, and the extraordinary delay had a severe knock-on effect for other broadcasters in Wales, such as S4C, which was due to have a number of desks allocated to workers.
Following the corporation taking possession of the new building, the Director of BBC CW, Rhodri Talfan Davies, announced excitedly: “Central Square is all about opening up… the fantastic location means that we’ll be more accessible”.
However this didn’t allow Mr Davies to ‘open up’ or be ‘accessible’ to Mr Parry, because an interview with him was refused.
It is also clear that some do NOT believe it is “fantastic”, when critics are saying the old building could have been renovated, and the new one is described as “soulless”…
Tomorrow – the vacuous ‘business-speak’ being used today.
The memories of Mr Parry’s 38 year award-winning career in journalism (including events at the old BBC Cymru Wales building) as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in the book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.