The Strange Story Of The Song About Portable Offices

When people talk about songs and portable office buildings in the same sentence, typically they are referring to songs that have been recorded and mixed in special portable studios.

This was the case for the album Spice World, which was recorded in a portable studio near the set of the film of the same name, and other films have been recorded in strange places whilst studios have been refurbished.

However, there is a song specifically about portable offices that references a particular brand in its title, delivered by comedian and songwriter Sir Richard Stillgoe as a spite-filled parting shot on New Year’s Eve of 1981.

On that night, supposedly at the stroke of midnight (although they kept going for another 43 minutes), Southern Television was set to shut down as a result of losing the South and South East of England ITV franchise, allegedly after the channel submitted a tiny 16-page application.

After the Independent Broadcasting Authority made its verdict and the job of broadcasting to the southeast went to upstart Television South, Southern Television was livid, refusing to let them use their studios as they blamed the new company rather than the IBA or themselves for the decision and took it out on them.

TVS would resourcefully use portable office buildings in the car park of Southern’s Dover and Southampton studios before finally getting an agreement from Southern to lease the studios out.

The final show, And It’s Goodbye From Us, is somewhat infamous for its rather spiteful tone and funereal atmosphere and included footage from a farewell dinner, including a performance from Sir Richard Stilgoe and Southern’s head David Wilson reading a letter he had written to the IBA.

The song itself unfairly and spitefully describes the company as a particular brand of portable offices, both implying that the shows would be inferior because of this (false) and also that the very reason they are in said offices to begin with is not directly Southern’s fault (also false).

Television South would run until just before midnight on New Year’s Eve 1992.

Categories: Cabins for hire, Marketing suite, Portable Cabins, Portable Offices,
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