The most famous office in the history of the BBC was demolished during the summer. But a ghostly reminder of Room 101, immortalised by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-four, was unveiled yesterday in the form of a plaster cast by Rachel Whiteread. The artist, who won the Turner Prize in 1993 with a cast of a house in the East End, was so intrigued by the history of Room 101 that she accepted a commission from the BBC to capture its internal dimensions before it was knocked down as part of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House.
The work goes on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum tomorrowin the Cast Courts, which house reproductions of celebrated European architecture and sculpture such as Michelangelo’s David.
Orwell was a radio producer in the Indian section of the BBC’s Eastern Service under his real name, Eric Blair, during the Second World War when he conceived his dystopian novel and adopted Room 101 as the infamous torture chamber where disloyal citizens encounter their worst fears. There is some debate about whether the room he had in mind was at Broadcasting House or at another BBC building in 55 Portland Place where Orwell attended meetings. Although Orwell hated his time at the BBC, where he described the atmosphere as “something half-way between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum,” it was decided to preserve Room 101 at Broadcasting House. Susan McCormack, head of contemporary programmes at the V&A, said the Whiteread sculpture, Untitled (Room 101), was “an incredibly resonant piece”.
30.08 mins General Sir Walter Walker
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