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BBC’s Maida Vale studios sold to group led by Hans Zimmer

The future of the legendary West London outpost is secure

By Joe Goggins

Maida Vale Studios, West London, 2020
The studios will continue to be used for recording. (Photo: Megalit/Wikimedia Commons)

The BBC has sold its Maida Vale Studios to a group headed by the film composer Hans Zimmer, it has been confirmed.

The future of the legendary studios in West London had been called into question when it twas announced that the BBC, which had controlled the site since 1946, were looking to sell. Now, a group led by movie legend Zimmer has taken over the studios in a deal rumoured to be worth more than £10 million.

Thousands of musicians have recorded sessions at Maida Vale over the years, including such legends as David Bowie, Dusty Springfield, Led Zeppelin, Beyoncé and The Beatles. It is also the headquarters for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, as well as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with whom Delia Derbyshire helped pioneer modern electronic music. Many of John Peel’s live sessions were recorded at Maida Vale, along with many of Radio 1’s Live Lounge sessions.

The new owners have committed to continuing the complex’s musical legacy. It will remain as a recording studio, with a multi-million pound refurbishment in prospect, whilst a not-for-profit education centre connected with the studios is also in the pipeline. The building’s original facade will also be retained as part of the agreement.

Zimmer, who has produced scores for many of the 21st biggest blockbusters, has led the purchase as part of a group that also includes his business partner, Steven Kofsky. “The first time I worked for the BBC at their Maida Vale studios was 45 years ago,” said Zimmer in a statement. “I was just a kid, in awe, honoured to be booked to play on one of my first sessions. I still remember the strong pull, the desire to touch the walls, as if that would somehow allow me to connect to the artists whose extraordinary music had resonated against these walls on a daily basis.

“This was a place of revolutionary science in the service of art, this was a place that inspired you to give your best, where music was performed around the clock and art was taken seriously,” Zimmer went on. “For the people by the people. This was the place that kept a struggling musician like me from giving up.”

The BBC first announced its intention to move its live music base to Stratford, East London in 2018, claiming that Maida Vale had become “wholly unsuitable for the 21st century”. An outcry ensued from prominent figures in the music industry, and the corporation would be criticised in 2020 for objecting to the Grade II listing of the building, which lowered its value as it could not be demolished by developers. It will move to Stratford by the end of 2025. 

“Maida Vale has played such an important part in the BBC’s history, and its significance in popular culture is huge,” said Lorna Clarke, the BBC’s Director of Music. “We are so pleased to secure a sale which looks to continue the bright, vibrant future of music making in this iconic building – not only providing new studio spaces but jobs and an education facility.”