Campaign for George Orwell statue at BBC Broadcasting House gathers pace
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 March 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Plans to install a statue of former Hampstead resident George Orwell outside BBC Broadcasting House are full steam ahead and campaigners hope to see it installed before the end of the year.
Though ex-BBC director general Mark Thompson was reported to have been opposed to the scheme because the iconic author was “too left-wing”, fans of the writer have been given the nod that the new regime will give the project the green light.
Baroness Joan Bakewell, a leading figure in supporting the project, has bent incoming BBC director general Tony Hall’s ear on the subject and hopes to continue talks when he takes up his post in April.
“He is showing great interest and it’s looking very optimistic,” said the Primrose Hill broadcaster and journalist.
The plans have won near-universal backing, with pledges of close to £110,000 flooding in.
Actor Michael Palin, author John le Carre, playwright Sir David Hare and Sir Torquil Norman, who helped save The Roundhouse, are among the local celebrities who have pledged money.
Mr Palin, from Gospel Oak, said: “I love his work. He was a very important author and I read a lot of his books growing up.
“He was interested in how the world worked and life generally and I think he had some good takes on it.”
Martin Jennings, whose statue of John Betjeman stands in St Pancras Station, will be commissioned to create the bronze tribute, standing at 6ft 3ins.
Ben Whitaker, chairman of the George Orwell Memorial Trust, said: “We considered a lot of places for the statue. But we thought outside the BBC is very appropriate because it is very much in line with the BBC’s values.”