After 53 years, the BBC Television Centre in London shut down completely on Sunday with the final members of the 5,000 employees who once worked there moving to new locations, or, in some instances, looking for work elsewhere. Over the next two years, parts of the site are scheduled to be bulldozed and replaced with new offices, shops, apartments and a hotel. The BBC has agreed to lease back about 20 percent of the TV Centre after it is redeveloped and turn it into a kind of theme park called the BBC Digital Experience, complete with interactive attractions, including one in which visitors will provide their birth date and then be able to watch scenes from shows of their childhood. The Centre will also allow visitors to see how some of their favorite shows are currently produced. But the plans have encountered skeptical reaction from some critics, who, the London Daily Mail observed, have accused BBC executives of sacrificing license fee payers' money to ... foot the bill for a series of other high-profile property blunders. The BBC had sold the building to the developer Stanhope last year for about $300 million. However, one prominent BBC figure told the Mail: The BBC has had to sell TV Centre to balance the books. What other company in the world would voluntarily decentralize from such a perfect location and enter into decades of deal making with commercial landlords? It is insane.
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