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His visit was a secret to all but a select few staff until he actually arrived. So there were more than a few double-takes and dropped jaws when Gordon Brown walked through the doors of our museum yesterday.
Visit of Gordon Brown to the museum, October 22 2009

The Prime Minister seemed happy and relaxed as he took a tour of our TV gallery (accompanied by our Director Colin Philpott), had his photograph taken with local schoolchildren, and was interviewed twice: first by a journalist from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, then by a specially-invited audience of Telegraph & Argus readers.

About ten minutes before the PM arrived, our designer Rob Derbyshire heard the rumour a Very Special Guest was due in the museum…

But no-one knew who it was. From there we started noticing police around the building and on the roads nearby. I turned on Radio Leeds and struggled to find a signal—and caught the end of a story about the PM being in Bradford. I positioned myself on the Level 4 balcony, and saw the motorcade snake its way to the front doors of the museum. Out stepped Gordon Brown.

Museum Interpreter Beth Hughes was in the Experience TV gallery when…

I saw the Prime Minster coming up the stairs. I was trying to keep out of the way—so I stood to the side. He was led straight over to the exhibit I was standing in front of, so I turned to move out of the way: I didn’t realise he was coming over to shake our hands until my colleague whispered to me to turn around. He took a look at the original John Logie Baird equipment and said ‘Well, this is very impressive’—I like to tell people he was talking about me!

Museum Director Colin Philpott said:

We were only aware of the visit the day before but at least we had the best part of 24 hours’ notice. When Tony Blair came here in 2005, we had three hours’ notice!

It’s the little incidents which will no doubt stick in the memory. When I took him to the lift it wouldn’t start because there were too many people in it with all his security officers and press aides. Some of them had to get out and walk up eight floors to my office which meant that I got about three minutes in my office with him pretty much alone—giving me the opportunity to sing the praises of the museum and Bradford.

The PM seemed to like what he saw and seemed genuinely interested in the museum.

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