One thing new about Saturday’s trip to the NMPFT: the museum now houses Bradford’s local BBC radio studio, usually used to broadcast BBC Radio Leeds. The studio and offices are in one of the ordinary museum galleries, with large windows, presumably very thoroughly sound-proofed, to make sure everybody gets a good look at the presenter at work.
Now, the BBC seems to have made a habit of doing this in the past few years. Their studio here moved from a cupboard in one of the council offices, to a shop by the bus station; again with big windows so passers-by can watch. The same has happened to their studios in Hull. Somewhere at the BBC, a few years ago, someone made a note: “all radio studios to have big windows for random passers-by”, and they’ve stuck to it ever since.
Thinking about it, I’m wondering where they came across the idea. Back in the 1990s, I rather liked the TV series Northern Exposure, which, as it happens, featured a local radio station which broadcast from an ordinary town shop, the DJ sitting by the window watching everyone pass by as he talked. Maybe, someone at the BBC is a Northern Exposure fan too, and ever since then has been doing their best to put the BBC’s radio presenters into public view.
Yesterday: a day out, to the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television with The Parents. We’d not visited almost since it first opened. Most of it has been completely rebuilt since, but the gallery on the mechanics of TV is still unchanged from 20 years ago, back when blue screen Chroma-Key was an amazing feat of modern technology. The exhibits have all been re-captioned by Tim Hunkin, but even he only gave it a 2/5 score.
We didn’t go to see anything specific, but we did look around the current exhibition: Fashination, about the grey area between fashion and art. It seemed a rather strange choice for the NMPFT to put on. I suppose the connection was the importance of fashion photography, which was touched on in one part of the exhibition; but it really would have fitted better at somewhere like the V&A. The most interesting section – given more prominance on the website – was the “street fashion” polaroids of random people and their clothes. As someone who wishes they could just wake up, throw on something random and still look great, I love the idea that fashion is not the province of Great Artists whose work is more suited to a catwalk or photograph than to everyday life. Which seems to be entirely the opposite opinion to everything else in the show.