Did you know that you can book a tour to go behind the scenes at BBC Newcastle? I didn't until we were kindly invited along last week to see what the children's interactive tours were like. BBC Newcastle runs two different types of tour's, the children's one which we went on and is recommended for children aged 6-12 years old and they also have an adult one. If you don't live in the North East then you can also book on tours at your local BBC studios.
BBC Newcastle is located on Barrack Road, just outside of the city centre about a 20 minute walk from the city centre (head past St James park and leazes park), you can also get buses that will drop you off right outside the studio which you can find details of on www.travelinenortheast.info, there is also free onsite parking. You really can't miss the building as it is very distinctive and many locals will know it as "The Pink Palace".
Arriving for our tour we were greeted by two friendly members of staff who took our names, handed out lanyards and give the children name badges. The tour does take place in a working building so for this reason really young children (under 6) are not recommended, which is why I did not take my little two along with me. The tour takes around an hour and a half and you will be on your feet, walking for the whole tour - so be sure to wear comfy shoes!
If your children watch CBBC shows then they will really enjoy this tour, at 14 Chloe was a bit too old to be interested in the shows they mentioned. The younger children (around age's 7-10 years old) on the tour seemed to really enjoy learning about the shows and they all seemed to be having a brilliant time. I don't want to give too much away about the tour as I think it is nice having a bit of a surprise when you go to thing's like this, so apologies if I am a bit vague at times. The tour kicked off with some rather gruesome Horrible Histories gory games, which the younger children enjoyed getting involved and competing in, it was a good ice breaker to get children interested and involved.
We then moved around the building learning about the history of BBC Newcastle and the shows they have produced, Byker Grove anyone? Totally loved that show as a child and I always remember poor PJ (of PJ and Duncan fame aka Ant & Dec) getting shot of a paintball gun! Anyway I digress, we got to see lots of behind the scenes ways that BBC Newcastle works, learning about green screens which amazed the children. We got to see the room where the morning travel reports are recorded and how everything works.
We got to see sets from CBBC show's and we got to go into the iconic Look North newsroom studio, it looks a lot different than I ever imagined it to be, you have to see it for yourself to understand what I mean. We learnt how the studio worked, how to read the weather and little tips and tricks the presenters use, which as a grown up was rather fascinating. We even got to see what it is like in the backstage director's seat and what goes on during a live broadcast. Both myself and my teen found this really interesting, although I bet it is fraught with tension during a broadcast.
One thing worth noting is that the two tour guides really made the children feel welcome and were great at getting involved themselves, answering questions and the man (sorry I am terrible with names) was really entertaining too.
After seeing the main parts of the building it was time for some fun activities learning about different job roles in the industry, how popular shows like Dick & Dom are made and how to create sound effects for radio shows. At the end of the day, you can even have a go at presenting your own news and weather forecast, it is a lot harder than it looks on TV that's for sure!
Overall we did enjoy the tour, the tour guides were really friendly and it was really interesting for both adults and children learning about what goes on behind the scenes in a TV and radio station. However, at 14, I do think that Chloe was a bit too old for this tour and we were not familiar with a lot of the shows they kept mentioning such as Dumping Ground and Wolfblood. I do think that the recommended age of 6-12 is a good indication of the age range of children who would enjoy this tour. The other children who were on the same tour as us in this age range were really getting involved and having great fun and were really interested in learning about their favourite CBBC shows.
If you have a child aged between 6-12 years old who watches CBBC programs then I highly recommend you take them on this tour as they will love it. Also if your an adult that just fancies a look around the studios and seeing what goes on behind the scenes then I recommend you go on an adult tour too, I am planning on booking my dad on a one as I know he would really enjoy it (he watches Look North every day).
The BBC Newcastle interactive children's tours are available on weekends and weekdays during half-term. The adult tours are available on Tuesday's and Saturdays. You do need to pre-book and you can book online up until midnight the day before you want to visit, although they can get booked up quickly so it is best to book in advance. You can also buy gift vouchers which would make a great gift idea.
Adult tickets cost £10.00 and children £7.50. For full details on prices and how to book visit the BBC Tour's Website.
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Disclosure we received complimentary tickets for the tour for the purpose of this review.