Friday, July 8, 2011

Jennifer Lopez's £10,000 visit to the BBC and other tales from the world's largest broadcaster

The iconic BBC headquarters in London, built in 1960. Shortly after taking this photo, our tour guides informed us that it's on the market as the BBC employees are gradually transferred to a new headquarters. 
As part of our tour of the BBC on Thursday, we stood inside one of the five "superstar" hang-out rooms where big acts relax before being taken to their dressing room/makeup rooms before a performance or interview. As part of the deal, the big names get to pick some amenities to make themselves feel more at home.

Our guides, Megan and Rachel, shared with us a few memorable requests the BBC has gotten from celebrities over the years (called riders). As Rachel listed a few examples of famous people's riders, she let us guess whether the BBC went along with the requests or not. It was so much fun -- and enlightening -- we'll let you play, too. Decide whether you think the BBC granted the following requests, then check your answers below.

1. Paul McCartney. Request: Fresh fruit and tea.
2. Elton John. Request: Sugar-free ginger biscuits from British luxury shop Harrods.
3. Jonathan Ross. Request: A Playstation 3.
4. Madonna. Request: A life-sized portrait of the Pope.
5. Mariah Carey. Request: A box of puppies to play with.
6. Lady Gaga. Request: A pair of additional refrigerators.
7. Prince. Request: To be carried around the BBC's campus to avoid going up steps or in elevators.
8. Jennifer Lopez. Request: To have her dressing room redecorated entirely in white, including new white carpet and two white sofas flown in from her Paris apartment, and dressing rooms for the 32 members of her entourage.

The BBC knows irony.

1. Yes, McCartney's request was granted.
2. Yes, the BBC sent someone to Harrods to buy the biscuits.
3. Yes, a BBC employee went out to buy the PS3. At the end of the night, Ross gave it to the compliant employee as a gift.
4. Yes, the BBC met Madonna's demands by borrowing a wax figure of the Pope from Madame Tussauds. It apparently traveled to BBC headquarters sticking out of the roof of a taxicab.
5. No, the BBC denied this request for fear of cruelty to animals.
6. Yes, Lady Gaga got her two fridges. She used them to store her wigs, according to our guides.
7. Yes, a security guard got the honor of carrying Prince from one floor of the BBC to the next.
8. Yes, Lopez got her redecorated room, couches and all -- but only when she agreed to pay for it. It apparently cost her more than £10,000, according to our guides. (The BBC is publicly funded, raising its revenue from an annual license fee of about £140 that every citizen who owns a TV must pay.)

And for all that trouble and expense, Lopez was only in the room for about 40 minutes, our guides said.

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