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The OU comes to Alexandra Palace

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Television studio set for an Open University programme
Image : Open University television studio set
Date: 1970
Audio clip: Robert Rowland clip 1
Duration: 00:05:01
Date: 2009

For some time the BBC had planned to move the TV News Service from the original television studios at Alexandra Palace. These studios became available to the newly created Open University at the end of September 1969.

In an article for BBC/OU staff magazine Open Line magazine in December 1980, recently retired Chief Assistant to the Head of BBC/OU Productions, David Kennard wrote:

“So we began our move into Alexandra Palace within twenty four hours of the departure of BBC Television News at the end of September 1969. Around us the work of refurbishing the studios, technical areas, and offices began in earnest. We set ourselves May 4 1970 as a deadline for the production of the first OU TV programme.”

Kennard continued…

“We were little over nine months away from transmission, by which time we would have to have completed production of the first 150 TV and 150 radio programmes to be associated with the then four foundation courses, arts, maths, social sciences and science”.

“The pressures upon a narrow channel of resources were fairly intense… We had to have enough material of acceptable quality ‘in the can’ to meet the educational objectives and the needs of first – and second – year students of the time. These could only be presumed. There was little previous experience of distance teaching in terms of higher education, and there had been no opportunity to set up a pilot student group to create some form of feedback on broadcast programmes.”

On this page you can listen to an extract from a 2009 oral history interview with Robert Rowland, former Head of the Open University Production Centre (OUPC), talking about working at Alexandra Palace. 

The OU comes to Alexandra Palace (page 1 of 2)