Friday 15 December 2017

BBC staff caught yawning, hugging and playing with 'lightsabers' in open-plan newsroom

BBC viewers complain of
BBC viewers complain of "distracting" open-plan office after serious news bulletins were accompanied by members of staff hugging, yawning and pretending their umbrellas are lightsabers in the background

Hannah Furness

BBC viewers have complained about the new "fishbowl" newsroom, which means members of staff are visible in the background of serious reports.

Staff have been spotted picking their noses, eating bananas, drinking tea, chatting to friends, yawning and - on one occasion - playing "lightsabers" with a pair of umbrellas.

Journalists have previously noted they feel like "pandas in a zoo" while on show in the newsroom, where cameras roll 24 hours a day.

One licence fee-payer, Mike Jennings, said he had spotted employees at play in the background as a serious news story was being broadcast.

He tweeted: "Man talking gravely about floods on BBC News, Adults in background pretending their umbrellas are lightsabers."

Another viewer, Mark Hutchings, was distracted by a public display of affection between staff while an interview was taking place in the foreground.

He wrote: "Surgeon on BBC News Channel from Southampton newsroom. In the background two journalists are hugging. I know it's Friday but..."

A fellow viewer added: "Wow BBC News your new newsroom background to the newsreader is WAY too visually distracting! We don't need to see all your employees at once".

Members of staff have also commented on the exposed nature of the newsroom, which they moved into six months ago.

BBC journalist, Lee Thompson, tweeted: "My bald spot just been shining brightly in the background behind legendary Sir Harold Evans on BBC News Channel. The shame".

Staff previously labelled their new offices a "bear pit" and complained that they feel like "pandas in a zoo". Some have called for the glass to be opaque, after predicting that inappropriate behaviour would be caught on camera as serious stories were being discussed in the studio.

BBC News moved to the exposed setting in London's Broadcasting House from its previous home in the capital, Television Centre, in March.

The ultra-modern extension to the famous 1932 art-deco building was designed by architect Sir Richard MacCormac.

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