How did they move the news? 

19 June 2023 tbs.pm/77997

A man pushes a trolley full of files; Fiona Armstrong holds more files

 

And here are the headlines… Fiona Armstrong and her 950 ITN colleagues have been safely evacuated to a new hi-tech HQ in London. Their move from overcrowded offices was accomplished with military efficiency. How was it done? And why did you not notice the scene-shifting when watching ITN’s bulletins? Read on…

 

TVTimes cover

From TVTimes for 12 January 1991

Moving house has to be one of the most stressful events in modern-day life. But if the idea of leaving home sweet home gives you the tremors, spare a thought for the staff at ITN.

They’ve just had to cope with moving a world-class news organisation lock, stock and clipboard — and still keep up their standards of excellence.

As moves go, it wasn’t a long one — it’s less than two miles from the old ITN headquarters behind London’s Oxford Street to the brand new, hi-tech home on the former site of The Sunday Times building in Gray’s Inn Road. But ask the commercial removal experts at Burton and Smith, the firm that carried out the month-long changeover, and they’ll say it’s the trickiest operation they’ve ever had to handle.

From backroom boys and girls to the familiar faces of newscasters such as Trevor McDonald and Fiona Armstrong, ITN employs some 950 staff. While some work on location or in the company’s foreign bureaux, most were housed in four increasingly cramped buildings in Wells Street and Mortimer Street.

When the company first occupied the main premises in 1969, the daily programme output was less than one hour. Now ITN serves C4, too, and is on air for at least 37 hours each week.

Keeping news flowing to two terrestrial networks plus satellite, video and Oracle viewers as well as radio and telephone users is a round-the-clock operation. So staff transfers had to be staggered over a four-week, pre-Christmas period, traditionally a quiet time for news. But there are exceptions — such as the Lockerbie bomb and last year’s Romanian revolution.

To ensure no aspect of normal service was impaired, an hour-by-hour timetable was drawn up. From the moment the building inspectors granted a Certificate of Occupancy for 200 Gray’s Inn Road to the time when chief security warden Peter Saunders turned out the lights at 48 Wells Street, not a thing was left to chance.

With everyone now safely installed in what is the most technologically advanced news headquarters in the world, it’s agreed that chewed fingernails were a small price to pay. Designed by the internationally renowned firm Norman Foster & Associates, the 10-storey building makes stunning use of glass — which means passers-by can see ITN’s newsrooms at work.

So even if it did take a man with a trolley to persuade newscaster Fiona to forsake Wells Street for WC1, we think even she would agree that there’s no place like her brand new home.

And for ITN it’s that rare thing — a news story with a very happy ending.

 

Oh! That’s how they did it!

‘It took 18 days, an army of removal men and a fleet of vans to move less than two miles…’

 

 

The man who made it a smooth move

Mike Morris

Where on earth do you start when it comes to moving an organisation as large as ITN? ‘It’s quite simple really,’ says Mike Morris, the company’s director of industrial relations and the man responsible for planning a smooth changeover. ‘Get a large sheet of paper, write at the top “11am, 14 December: deliver crates to Wells Street”, and then at the bottom “11am, 31 December: remaining security staff to 200 Gray’s Inn Road”. Fill in the space with 350 other events and make sure they happen in order and on time – while we stay on air!”

 

The design team that’s good news

Stewart Purvis

ITN’s spectacular new building is the first commercial property in central London to be designed by the award-winning Normal Foster team – responsible for, among other projects, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters in Hong Kong. ‘The crystal splendour of 200 Gray’s Inn Road could soon become as well known to British television viewers as the slate roofs and faded bricks of Coronation Street,’ predicts Stewart Purvis, the editor of ITN. ‘We’ll be bringing the excitement of modern television news gathering to the viewers at home as well as to passers-by on the street outside our new headquarters.’

 

Fiona Armstrong and Trevor McDonald in the studio

 

Your comment

Enter it below

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Monday 24 June 2024