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BBC halts live radio broadcasts and goes off air after fire alarm

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BBC Radio 4 goes off air for 15 minutes after halting live radio broadcasts because fire alarm went off in London studio

  • BBC Radio 4’s Today programme is forced off air between 7.39am and 7.54am 
  • Staff forced to wait outside New Broadcasting House in London in -1C (34F) chill
  • Pre-recorded message was played apologising for ‘disruption’ and ‘problems’
  • Documentary about history of T-shirts was also aired along with the world news


BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was forced off air for 15 minutes this morning after New Broadcasting House was dramatically evacuated following a fire alarm.

The show’s team including presenters Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson had to leave the building in London at 7.39am, before being allowed back in at 7.54am.

Staff were forced to wait outside the building in temperatures of -1C (34F), while a pre-recorded message was played apologising for ‘disruption’ and ‘problems’.

A documentary about the history of the T-shirt was also aired along with the world news, and Robinson and Kearney tweeted a picture of themselves out in the cold.

Workers on the programme were allowed back in around ten minutes after the alarm first sounded, without needing to go to the station’s back-up studio in Westminster.

Nick Robinson tweeted a picture of him outside the building in London with Martha Kearney

Nick Robinson tweeted a picture of him outside the building in London with Martha Kearney

The presenters were allowed back in around ten minutes after the alarm first sounded

The presenters were allowed back in around ten minutes after the alarm first sounded

As Robinson and Kearney tried to present the show an alarm rang, with a message saying: ‘Please the leave the building immediately.’

Robinson said: ‘We have a little alarm going on here’, which Kearney said was ‘quite dramatic’, adding: ‘Hopefully it is a false alarm’.

Robinson then introduced a report while the staff ‘work out what is going on’.

Shortly after 7.40am an announcer said: ‘This is BBC Radio 4. I’m afraid we’re having some problems which are preventing us from continuing with our scheduled programme as smoothly as we wish.

Kearney tweeted this picture after BBC Radio 4's Today programme was forced off air today

Kearney tweeted this picture after BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was forced off air today

‘Many apologies for the disruption, but rest assured we are doing our best to restore normal service as soon as possible.’

After returning to the air, Kearney told listeners: ‘Well as the world news fades down, Chris, Nick (Robinson) and I are back in the studio – somewhat… 

‘Nearly called you my husband there, that’s dodgy. Slightly breathless, but we didn’t run up the stairs at least – so, alarm over.’

Robinson added: ‘Well, let’s just reassure everybody that not only is the alarm is over, but despite that noise that you may have heard saying there was an emergency, as far as we can tell, there wasn’t actually an emergency.

The programme's team were evacuated from New Broadcasting House in London (file image)

The programme’s team were evacuated from New Broadcasting House in London (file image)

‘Anyway, we have to follow procedures, and we did, we were outside in the cold for a little while but we’re relieved to be back on the Today programme and will now continue as before. Normal service is being resumed.

Kearney then introduced a delayed Thought for the Day with Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford.

During the shutdown, the programme’s business correspondent Katie Prescott tweeted at 7.44am: ‘For those listening to Today and wondering what is going on, we have been evacuated from New Broadcasting House because of an alarm.’

She then added at 7.50am: ‘We are being allowed back in – normal service resuming shortly.’

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