Inside the John Peel Wing

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This week my blogging has been overtaken by events in real life and in work. I was surprised and pleased to wake up in between night shifts to hear the news that the BBC's Egton House was to be renamed the John Peel Wing. It was quite uncanny to find this out as I had been working there a few hours earlier, in 'Egton', and would be back that night, in 'The John Peel Wing'. Naturally the change hasn't filtered through to our bookings and allocations but I will be investigating this on Monday morning!

I have worked in this wing since it opened in 2007 and I knew nothing of the name change until it was news. The building at the moment contains three distinctive parts of the BBC, namely BBC Arabic, BBC Persian and BBC London, so the John Peel connection isn't immediately obvious. The original Egton House was in Langham Street and was the home of Radio 1 between 1985 and 1996, and it was also the home to the millions of records and CDs that made up the Gramophone Library. The building was demolished in 2003 to make way for the new phase of rebuilding that will eventually culminate in the opening of the New Broadcasting House in the next few months, a building that will link old Broadcasting House to the John Peel Wing and will be the home of most of the BBC's radio output.
There is a photograph of John in his book 'Margrave of the Marshes' surrounded by records and jiffy bags at his desk in Egton House. Nowadays the new areas are open plan and hot-desking is the way to work. The radio studios are glass boxes with digital desks that can be set to control the talk studio or work as a self-op. It is pretty far away from the radio world of John Peel and I doubt that he would have liked it here. There were a few complaints about the name change on various social networks yesterday, most notably from Peel's friend and colleague Andy Kershaw, and they do raise very valid points. It's true that a lot of the decision makers may have never listened through to an entire John Peel show, and the manipulation of his name may be seen as cynical. However, from my own point of view, I was delighted to find out that a building I work in is to be named after a man I admired and loved. I know other Peel fans in work feel the same. I do hope that we can start to call it the John Peel Wing-ding, because that name would be far more in keeping with the spirit of the great man and his radio shows.

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