Wow the Easter holidays have really gone in a flash. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Two lovely Bank Holidays in May to enjoy just around the corner! Over Easter we enjoyed lots of London fun, but we also managed to do some pretty cool stuff closer to home. The BBC Studio Tour Newcastle is one local experience which comes highly recommended.
BBC Studio Tour Newcastle
Booking a tour is straightforward through the BBC website. Two types of tours are offered at BBC Newcastle. The Children’s one, which we booked on, and an adults only tour. During school holidays, additional children’s tours are put on to accomodate the extra demand. School and group visits are welcomed too. In fact, Imogen enjoyed this tour last year in Year 3 on a class visit.
According to the website, the BBC Studio is known as ‘The Pink Palace’ to the locals. I hadn’t heard this term before but i can see why it is massive and very very pink! TV shows Look North and Sunday Politics are filmed here as well as being the base for BBC Radio Newcastle.. The BBC Studio is really easy to find located on Barack Road, Newcastle just up from St James’ Park. Handy to note that parking is plentiful and there are plenty of buses running along this road if coming on public transport.
Barrack Road Newcastle
Arriving at the BBC Studio at 1.30pm we were met by our tour guides Simon and Richmal. Names ticked off and back stage laminates issued we were all set to take on the tour after a short housekeeping speil. Around 30 people were on the tour. A mix of adults and children ranging from ages 6-12. Abigail was the youngest on the tour. Taking around 1 hour and half there was only one toilet stop right at the start. During the tour, there are a few stops for a little sit down but the pace is fast and fairly tiring. Smaller children might struggle to keep up and for this reason children the guideline of age 6 and over is advised. As it is a working studio there was to be no wandering off like Charlie Bucket and his Grandpa Joe. We needed to stay together as a group at all times.
As a warm up before the tour started, some games revolving around Horrible Histories were played. Abigail shot her hand up when asking for volunteers. Going head to head with another boy to solve a picture puzzle of Queen Elizabeth. Slow and steady won the race for her!
Abigail was given an Eye Spy spotting sheet to work on as we headed through the studios.
Look North Studio
I’ll not spoil all of the tour for you in case you fancy going along, but the highlight for me was the Look North studio. It was so interesting to see where the nightly news is filmed. You soon realise what a small and very hot space it is when the camera lights are on. Only two camera men in the room are with the newsreaders as it’s broadcast. I had always though there would be loads of people in there! Abigail had fun sitting on the newsreaders chair and I think she quite fancies Carol Malia’s job.
As you wind your way around the studios you are taken into various control and affect rooms. Parts of the sets from dramas that are filmed at the centre like the Dumping Ground, Wolfblood and Hetty Feather also feature. I wasn’t familiar with Wolfblood but one of the kids on the tour was really into it and was asking the guides lots of questions. We watched a clip of the show on the TV, then the kids had a turn acting the parts in the mocked up set. Abigail was happy to pose for a photo! Kids also had a go at playing Diddy Dick and Dom which was amusing.
Lights, Camera, Action
On the final part of the tour we were led to a sound affect studio. This was our chance to put all of the things we had learned together. The older children had fun acting out a radio drama from a script. We had a go making some sound affects. Old film scrunched up made a good rainfall sound and a feather pillow worked well for a flapping bird. Who knew?
Abigail’s confidence was high at this point, having a good go at the role of sports commentator. She struggled a little to read some of the big words but had fun nonetheless. Watching the footage back was a great touch so she could see herself on the screen.
It was soon time to say goodbye to our guides. We had a fantastic afternoon at BBC Newcastle Studios finding out what goes on behind the scenes.
For more details about booking onto the tours visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/newcastle