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The East Tower's Last Story: Meet the Readers

For over 30 years, CBBC's Jackanory captivated its young audience with a minimalist format: take a famous face and ask them to read a great story. As the East Tower that was home to the CBBC team comes down, artist Hilary Powell takes inspiration from the programme's magic formula for her new work Multistory.


The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where did he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.

So begin the opening lines of Ted Hughes' haunting modern fairytale, The Iron Man. It was this tale that Tom Baker brought to life in a 1985 edition of Jackanory. For over 30 years, the CBBC produced the programme from the very same East Tower where White Noise now has its temporary home.

Temporary? The East Tower, you see, is coming down. And to commemorate its passing, eight artists are taking possession of its now-empty floors. One of those is Hilary Powell of Optimistic Productions. For her residency, Powell will revive the storytelling tradition of Jackanory with one last reading of The Iron Man.

Her readers will not be the celebrities and up-and-coming actors of the day, but local people past and present. Those who have lived in this corner of West London or those who have worked here. You'll have to wait until the end of September to see Powell's final film, but here are a few of those who will take a turn in the readers' chair.

BBC Jackanory Hilary Powell

Dotty Holt: "We read The Iron Man when I was in year 4. It's a bit of an odd story. It has more than one build-up and more than one resolution. It's not the sort of ending you would have thought of in a children's book."

BBC Jackanory Hilary Powell

Tanya Holt: "That poor Iron Man! That's so tragic!"

BBC Jackanory Hilary Powell

Max Kolaru: "My family's been living here since the 1950s. Grew up in Shepherd's Bush, West London. Played here, raved here."

BBC Jackanory Hilary Powell

Ellen Hobson: "I started working at the BBC in 2002 on this very floor. This project is very reminiscent of what the BBC used to do, say in the early 80s when they were doing things that were a bit avant garde and experimental. And it's the Iron Man! The idea of it being broken up and put back together again. There's something that resonates with me about Television Centre. I thought the selling off of Television Centre wasn't the right thing to do. It's such a beautiful building that was made for television and has such history."

BBC Jackanory Hilary Powell

David Hiskias.

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