The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 30 March 2009

I Can See For Miles

Quiz for you. Which William Hartnell Doctor Who story was an offence under the Official Secrets Act?

The answer is, of course, The War Machines. Because at the time the story was made and broadcast it was against the law to photograph the Post Office Tower in London (latterly the Telecom Tower or BT Tower). It’s location was an official secret and was ommitted from Ordnance Survey maps. The hope being that, in the event of a Soviet invasion, we could cover it with a drape and they’d never know it was there.

It’s one of the frustrations of living in London; you know there must be a really impressive view from the top of the tower but the public aren’t allowed to go up. That pleasure is solely reserved for BT Employees and Noel Edmonds.

The same used to be true of Centre Point, but now there’s some glittering private members club up there, so who knows, in the next couple of decades I might be able to blag myself an invite. I’ve managed to gatecrash most of the London clubs over the past few years. Can’t quite see the appeal myself, but then, I’m not a celebrity with a secret cocaine habit. I’d rather stay at home and watch The Big Bang Theory under a blanket with my girlfriend.

To return to the subject; I think, sensibly speaking, the notion of keeping the Post Office Tower off the maps wasn’t as daft as it might first seem. Because at ground level, the closer you get to the tower, the more difficult it is to see it because of all the other buildings in the way. And when you’re right next to it, there isn’t an entrance for it on the street. It might as well be invisible.


  1. They got away with it by getting Dodo to mislead enemy powers as to where you could see it from and trying to fool them into thinking we were still using the Julian calendar.

  2. Oh, I've been up Centre Point, and not to any club; there's a CD/vinyl mastering studio a couple of floors down from the top and I've been on a technical/social visit there. Fab it was too.
    If you're wondering why you might put such a delicate mechanism as a vinyl mastering studio a couple of hundred feet up in the air to be buffeted by any passing winds, that provided a large chunk of the technical presentation...