Iconic conservation of Big Ben to be revealed in unique ITN Productions and Channel 4 documentaries

  • Unprecedented access allowed for 3×60 min documentaries of Big Ben refurbishment
  • Three-year film project by ITN Productions and Channel 4 to span full conservation project

The House of Commons has announced that a series of unique programmes for Channel 4 will document the epic transformation of the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell, also known as Big Ben.

The structure is about to undergo the most extraordinary and extensive conservation and refurbishment in its 157-year history – and the process is to be recorded in a series of films entitled Big Ben (w/t).

As the world famous landmark disappears from view behind scaffolding for the next three years the painstaking process of conservation will be documented for Channel 4 in a series of 3×60 min programmes produced in partnership with multi-award-winning ITN Productions.

Three prime-time documentaries, broadcast over the three-year conservation period, will capture in intricate detail the £29m project and reveal how a dedicated team of architects, builders and craftsmen from around the UK have the job of conserving this grand monument and symbol of our democratic heritage. The story of one of the most extraordinary conservation projects in our history will be told through the people who are conserving Big Ben for future generations.

The first programme, to be broadcast in Spring 2017, will introduce audiences to the history of Big Ben, the people who work there and the current state of the world famous landmark – as well as the dedicated architects, engineers, clock makers, stonemasons and scaffolders who will lovingly repair it. Each of the 3×60 shows will be broadcast as a landmark stage of each section of the conservation is completed.

Using innovative filming techniques the documentaries will bring to life the sheer scale of the project and the unprecedented expertise employed to protect it – combining skills from the past with cutting edge modern techniques.

Sir Paul Beresford, Chair of the House of Commons Administration Committee, said:

“We are looking forward to working with ITN Productions to document the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower, the most iconic building in the UK and an international symbol of democracy.  While the works will necessitate a temporary closure of the tower to visitors, we hope ITN’s documentary will encourage more people than ever before to take an intimate look at the most beloved clock in the world.”

Will Smith, Head of Factual, ITN Productions, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the House of Commons to record the epic transformation of one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. We’ll give Channel 4 viewers a front row seat as the scaffolding goes up on Big Ben and work begins to painstakingly restore and conserve the 157 year-old bell tower.”

Lizi Wootton, Commissioning Editor for Features, Channel 4, said:
“I am delighted to be working with ITN and the UK Parliament to witness the extraordinary restoration of one of the country’s most important architectural and political landmarks. As the great clock reveals its secrets, the skill and craftsmanship of today and yesterday is going to be astonishing to watch.”

The programmes were commissioned by Lizi Wootton, Commissioning Editor, Features, Channel 4. They will be executive produced by Will Smith and Bernie Kay from ITN Productions.

The documentaries will be supported by content on All 4, which has over 13.5million registered unique viewers.

Editors Notes:

1.       The planned refurbishment, known as Project Denison, were announced on 26 April 2016.  The project was agreed by the Commons Administration Committee on 12 October 2015, the Administration and Works Committee in the House of Lords on the 2 November 2015 and the Commons Finance Committee on 14 October 2015 and 4 November 2015.

2.       The expected cost of Project Denison is £29 million, including VAT.

3.       Project Denison is currently undergoing a Public Procurement Process via Official Journal of European Union (OJEU).  Nine formal expressions of interest were received, from which four organisations have been shortlisted.  We expect to announce the successful bidder shortly.

4.       Following the announcement of the planned refurbishment, a number of documentary bids were received the House of Commons Communications Office.  After a fair evaluation of each of the proposals, the Administration Committee accepted ITN’s bid in principal on 20 July 2016.

5.       Elizabeth Tower / Great Clock historical information:

·         Initial problems caused by the weight of the gun-metal minute hands delayed the clock’s operation. These were quickly replaced with lighter copper hands and the clock began keeping time on 31 May 1859.

·         The Clock’s pioneering design included Denison’s revolutionary ‘Double Three-legged Gravity Escapement’, invented to ensure the Great Clock’s accuracy. This invention has subsequently been used in clocks all over the world.

·         Renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, ‘Big Ben’ is regularly featured in popular culture and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.

·         The Elizabeth Tower was constructed using 2600 cubic metres of brick and 850 cubic metres of stone, all of which were transported to Westminster by river.

6.       For a selection of images of the Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben and the Great Clock, please visit: https://parliament.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-parliament/images/assetbox/39053e80-2e61-4420-b3b3-bd06bdaf31b9/assetbox.html. All images are Copyright UK Parliament.

7.       Public tours of the Elizabeth Tower will pause from late December 2016 until the conclusion of the works.  All public tours have now been fully booked.  Detailed information about the history of the Elizabeth Tower and the refurbishment works is available here; http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/palace/big-ben/.

Iconic conservation of Big Ben to be revealed in unique ITN Productions and Channel 4 documentaries

·         Unprecedented access allowed for 3×60 min documentaries of Big Ben refurbishment

·         Three-year film project by ITN Productions and Channel 4 to span full conservation project

The House of Commons has announced that a series of unique programmes for Channel 4 will document the epic transformation of the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell, also known as Big Ben.

The structure is about to undergo the most extraordinary and extensive conservation and refurbishment in its 157-year history – and the process is to be recorded in a series of films entitled Big Ben (w/t).

As the world famous landmark disappears from view behind scaffolding for the next three years the painstaking process of conservation will be documented for Channel 4 in a series of 3×60 min programmes produced in partnership with multi-award-winning ITN Productions.

Three prime-time documentaries, broadcast over the three-year conservation period, will capture in intricate detail the £29m project and reveal how a dedicated team of architects, builders and craftsmen from around the UK have the job of conserving this grand monument and symbol of our democratic heritage. The story of one of the most extraordinary conservation projects in our history will be told through the people who are conserving Big Ben for future generations.

The first programme, to be broadcast in Spring 2017, will introduce audiences to the history of Big Ben, the people who work there and the current state of the world famous landmark – as well as the dedicated architects, engineers, clock makers, stonemasons and scaffolders who will lovingly repair it. Each of the 3×60 shows will be broadcast as a landmark stage of each section of the conservation is completed.

Using innovative filming techniques the documentaries will bring to life the sheer scale of the project and the unprecedented expertise employed to protect it – combining skills from the past with cutting edge modern techniques.

Sir Paul Beresford, Chair of the House of Commons Administration Committee, said:

“We are looking forward to working with ITN Productions to document the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower, the most iconic building in the UK and an international symbol of democracy.  While the works will necessitate a temporary closure of the tower to visitors, we hope ITN’s documentary will encourage more people than ever before to take an intimate look at the most beloved clock in the world.”

Will Smith, Head of Factual, ITN Productions, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the House of Commons to record the epic transformation of one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. We’ll give Channel 4 viewers a front row seat as the scaffolding goes up on Big Ben and work begins to painstakingly restore and conserve the 157 year-old bell tower.”

Lizi Wootton, Commissioning Editor for Features, Channel 4, said:
“I am delighted to be working with ITN and the UK Parliament to witness the extraordinary restoration of one of the country’s most important architectural and political landmarks. As the great clock reveals its secrets, the skill and craftsmanship of today and yesterday is going to be astonishing to watch.”

The programmes were commissioned by Lizi Wootton, Commissioning Editor, Features, Channel 4. They will be executive produced by Will Smith and Bernie Kay from ITN Productions.

The documentaries will be supported by content on All 4, which has over 13.5million registered unique viewers.

Editors Notes:

1.       The planned refurbishment, known as Project Denison, were announced on 26 April 2016.  The project was agreed by the Commons Administration Committee on 12 October 2015, the Administration and Works Committee in the House of Lords on the 2 November 2015 and the Commons Finance Committee on 14 October 2015 and 4 November 2015.

2.       The expected cost of Project Denison is £29 million, including VAT.

3.       Project Denison is currently undergoing a Public Procurement Process via Official Journal of European Union (OJEU).  Nine formal expressions of interest were received, from which four organisations have been shortlisted.  We expect to announce the successful bidder shortly.

4.       Following the announcement of the planned refurbishment, a number of documentary bids were received the House of Commons Communications Office.  After a fair evaluation of each of the proposals, the Administration Committee accepted ITN’s bid in principal on 20 July 2016.

5.       Elizabeth Tower / Great Clock historical information:

·         Initial problems caused by the weight of the gun-metal minute hands delayed the clock’s operation. These were quickly replaced with lighter copper hands and the clock began keeping time on 31 May 1859.

·         The Clock’s pioneering design included Denison’s revolutionary ‘Double Three-legged Gravity Escapement’, invented to ensure the Great Clock’s accuracy. This invention has subsequently been used in clocks all over the world.

·         Renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, ‘Big Ben’ is regularly featured in popular culture and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.

·         The Elizabeth Tower was constructed using 2600 cubic metres of brick and 850 cubic metres of stone, all of which were transported to Westminster by river.

6.       For a selection of images of the Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben and the Great Clock, please visit: https://parliament.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-parliament/images/assetbox/39053e80-2e61-4420-b3b3-bd06bdaf31b9/assetbox.html. All images are Copyright UK Parliament.

7.       Public tours of the Elizabeth Tower will pause from late December 2016 until the conclusion of the works.  All public tours have now been fully booked.  Detailed information about the history of the Elizabeth Tower and the refurbishment works is available here; http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/palace/big-ben/.

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