The BBC World Service is today celebrating its eightieth birthday. Marquees in the Bush House car park - a day of special programmes - even the morning editorial meeting broadcast live to an unsuspecting global audience.
The exact birthday isn't until later in the year, but within a month the World Service starts to decant to the fantastic new broadcast centre at New Broadcasting House on Portland Place. By the time the Olympics start, all World Service broadcasters and journalists (I'm one of them) will have left Bush House. So this is both early birthday and a public farewell to Bush House.
As well as listening avidly to today's programmes, my attention was drawn by my onetime boss Bill Rogers (he of the Trading as WDR blog, a sort of Guido Fawkes for the BBC - happily he describes today's programmes as 'much funkier that you would expect from an 80 year old's birthday party') to a wonderfully detailed account of the BBC career of perhaps the most famous World Service alumnus, George Orwell.
Orwell described his time at the BBC as 'two wasted years' - though the article by Peter Davison on the Orwell Society site makes clear they were professionally hugely productive. Orwell was also working with some emerging big figures in writing and culture, including Mulk Raj Anand, Balraj Sahni and Una Marson.
And if you have ever wondered where the real Room 101 was, here's the answer.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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