With much of Singapore’s Caldecott broadcast center operating at the new Ayer Rajah- Portsdown media hub. The once restricted areas are now opened to provide a rare glimpse of the media compound. The festival comprises of 8 main areas of interest, comprising of 2 outdoor prop areas, 2 tented market carnivals including an outdoor stage and movie-screening area, an indoor stage and a prop warehouse. The broadcast center is accessible via Olive via the OMG gate (old main gate). Free shuttle services are provided too from Caldecott and Bishan MRT stations. There are plenty of very professional and friendly event staff and security personnel to guide you and address your queries to and at the event. Admission is free.
If you are a visitor looking to see and learn more about the Caldecott broadcast center, as well as Singapore media history, you will be in for a rather big disappointment given the lack of any such content (the national museum might be a better place). I remembered watching Under One Roof live over a decade ago in one of the studios in the main Caldecott radio building, having the impression that I can enter that same building to show my family around the now-decommissioned building.
However, you do not get to enter the main radio building or recording studios, rather, you get to only access the old back-lane prop storage compound and basketball court, where you are greeted by old rickety sheds (old costuming/makeup buildings) with posters and signs plastered to hide the neglected rusted and faded façade, and assuming that if you are old enough to remember any old references from the posters, such as the pyramid game show.
The TV50 exhibition sit in a basket-ball court-sized sheltered prop studio, showcasing 50 years of television with a small collection of props, mannequin costumes from local productions series, old movie sets and a small collection of old betamax cameras (not even studio cameras). There were a couple of outdoor hawker street mockups, with visitors trying to make the best of their visit by candidly posing with the props for photos. While the place does have a rustic feel, the venue does not in any way fulfill the purpose of “showcasing” Singapore TV history.
You can choose to visit the areas of interest at your own time or join a guided tour. These tours are all oversubscribed an hour before the tour slot which merely just offers an audio guide to go about the public places which you can visit on your own. Of course, you may say it won’t be a festival without a myriad of stores peddling goods and food, though the variety of flea market and food stores are rather lacking. There is a video booth where, for a fee, you can sit in front of a green screen and added into show segments of old local movies. This leaves you a sour taste whether the festival placed more emphasis on making a buck from you, under the guise than rather showcasing actually anything useful about the broadcasting center.
Overall, as an event festival, it is ok to just pass off as an event simply just held in the open compounds of a disjunct media backlane and basketball court. If you were to label the event as one based on the heritage of Singapore’s TV media past, then it is a big letdown. Still, you won’t see yourself staying at the event for over an hour without getting bored. The festival runs until 7th May 2017.
More photos of the festival here.