|BBC Elstree Centre|
|Former names||Rock Studios,|
British National Studios,
|Etymology||named after Elstree village|
|Location||Located off Eldon Avenue, in Borehamwood|
|Address||BBC Elstree Centre,|
|Current tenants||BBC Studioworks|
|Owner|| Associated Television (ATV) (1958–1983)|
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1984–present)
BBC Elstree Centre, sometimes referred to as BBC Elstree Studios,is a television production facility, currently owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The complex is located on Eldon Avenue in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
This site was the first of several such complexes colloquially referred to as 'Elstree Studios' located in the area. Originally created as a film studio complex, in the late 1950s the site was converted for use as a television studio, becoming the main television production site for Lew Grade's Associated Television (ATV) franchise for the ITV network. After ATV became Central Television in the early 1980s and moved to a new Midlands-based complex, this site was sold to the BBC in 1984. It is currently a main production base for BBC Television, with the television studios being run by the BBC's commercial subsidiary BBC Studioworks, previously known as BBC Studios and Post Production.
The BBC Elstree Centre site includes the external set for the long-running soap opera EastEndersand medical drama Holby City . With the sale and partial demolition of BBC Television Centre in west London, BBC Television's original head office and primary TV production site, Studio D at Elstree has since been utilised for many of the BBC's large studio productions; such as Children in Need, and the BBC's 2015 General Election coverage.
During the 2010s, BBC Studioworks began operating three additional sound stages, newly equipped for television, at the nearby Elstree Studios on Shenley Road.
The Neptune Film Company opened the first studios in Borehamwood in 1914. It contained just a single 70 feet (21 metres ) window-less stage (the first 'dark stage' in England), relying on electricity from a gas-powered generator for lighting. At the time, this was an innovation, as the majority of early films were shot in large glass-roof studios which relied on natural light. It was said that Borehamwood was chosen as it had a good London train service, but was far enough away to avoid the then-regular London pea soup fogs. Production ceased during 1917, and the studio was sold to the Ideal Film Company, who used the site up until 1924.
During 1928, the studio was sold to Ludwig Blattner, who connected it to the electricity mains and introduced a German system of sound recording. The Blattner Studio was leased to Joe Rock Productions during 1934, and two years later it purchased the site.Rock Productions built four new large stages, and began making films, including the drama film The Edge of the World (1937), directed by Michael Powell.
The studios were owned by British National Films Company between 1939 and 1948, although during this period a large portion of the studio was taken over by the British government for war work.
During 1953, the studios were bought by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., mainly for television production. Early productions included the Douglas Fairbanks Presents series (1953–1957), and a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents .
The studios were sold to Lew Grade's Associated Television (ATV) in 1958. 7.5 acres (3.0 hectares ) site on London's South Bank had been purchased, but completion of a wholly new complex would be some years in the future, while the need for more studio space was urgent. As a result, the Eldon Avenue centre was re-equipped as an electronic television complex, and most of ATV's live and recorded shows were made there. The series made by the affiliated ITC, such as The Saint , Gideon's Way , and The Prisoner , were shot on 35mm film at other companies' neighbouring Elstree facilities or elsewhere, mostly at the (Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC) Elstree (Film) Studios, and MGM-British Studios.The original intention of the new owners was to use the facility for production of the affiliated ITC filmed series. The Adventures of William Tell (1958–59) was produced here, but ATV's existing television studios were insufficient for its requirements. A
Originally, some ATV programmes were made at the Alpha studios in Aston, Birmingham, as ATV had the weekday ITV Midland franchise as well as the weekend London franchise until network changes in 1968. After 1970, programmes such as Crossroads were made at the new Birmingham studios at the ATV Centre. Larger-scale productions, including many drama programmes, continued to be recorded at the Elstree facility for the rest of ATV's existence. In the period of its occupation of the Elstree complex, the smaller Studios A and B were used for schools TV and sitcoms, while Studio C was a drama studio. Studio D, with permanent audience seating, was used for light entertainment programmessuch as the ATV Morecambe and Wise series ( Two of a Kind , 1961–68) and The Muppet Show (1976–81).
ATV was restructured as Central Independent Television for the new contractual period beginning in January 1982. One of the conditions of its licence renewal by the governing body of the ITV network, then the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), was that ATV should vacate any London-based facilities and become entirely focused on the English Midlands, the region of the United Kingdom for which it had held the ITV franchise since 1968. For the last 18 months of its use as an ITV production studio, the complex was under the ownership of Central Independent Television; as ATV ceased to exist as a company at the end of 31 December 1981. The studios remained in operation by Central TV up until July 1983 (the final production under Central ownership being a Max Bygraves-era episode of Family Fortunes ), when its new main production centre in Nottingham was completed.
When the BBC bought the Elstree site in 1984 to produce its new soap opera EastEnders(first aired on 19 February 1985), it did not purchase the equipment within the building. Some sources state that as a consequence, Central TV's studio technicians were instructed to make the equipment left behind inoperable (there are particular claims about the camera prisms being smashed). Other sources dispute this, claiming the equipment was already so old and worthless there would have been no gain in intentionally disabling it. When the BBC moved in, it repaired equipment that was not beyond repair, sometimes using spare parts from identical pieces of equipment already in BBC use. The EMI 2001 television cameras used in Studio 3 at BBC Television Centre, Shepherd's Bush, were moved into the newly renamed 'BBC Elstree Centre' as part of that studio's refurbishment, instead of being stripped down for spare parts. Central TV's own EMI 2001s were considered to be beyond economic repair by BBC staff sent to examine the site, regardless of whether they had been intentionally disabled or not by Central TV employees. Elstree kept the EMI 2001s until 1991. Elstree's first new cameras were to be Thomson TTV-1531s, one of the last plumbicon-tubed cameras to be made. These camera were again replaced in the mid-1990s with Thomson TTV-1542 and TTV-1647 lightweight cameras using the then-new camera technology of a charge-coupled device (CCD). Widescreen was introduced in 1999, using Philips/Thomson LDK 100s. In 2010, the cameras across the site were again upgraded, this time to Sony HSC-300s.
'Fairbanks', with its distinctive green-tiled roof, is the oldest surviving building on the site, part of the studios constructed during the 1930s.It sits adjacent to the largest studios, Studio C and D.
'Neptune House' was built during the 1960s, and has a glass-fronted entrance. It has featured in several popular television series, including as the school in Grange Hill , and since 1999, as the hospital reception for Holby City . A purpose-built set was constructed for Grange Hill at the back of the building in 1989, but was dismantled when the series left Elstree in 2002. Neptune House can be seen in the opening titles of Gerry Anderson's science-fiction series UFO (1970) as Harlington-Straker Film Studios, the (literal) cover for the secret and below-ground headquarters of SHADO. The hospital 'wards' in Holby City are actually the top floor of Neptune House, fully kitted out, allowing genuine outside views from the windows. The building's staircases are seen almost constantly in the series.
The exterior set for the fictional East London setting Albert Square in EastEndersis located in the permanent backlot at . Originally constructed in 1984, the set is outdoors and open to the elements; by 2010, it was looking increasingly shabby. It was rebuilt for compliance with the requirements of high-definition television (HD TV) on the same site in 2013–2014, using mostly real brick, with some areas using a new improved plastic brick. Throughout rebuilding filming would still take place, and so scaffolding was often seen on screen during the process, with some story lines written to accommodate the rebuilding, such as the Queen Vic fire. In January 2014, the BBC announced on the EastEnders website that the set has been approved to be expanded by twenty percent; creating a new permanent front lot, located on the site of the former staff car park. This expansion project is the 'E20' project, which by 2018 had already gone over-budget.
Of the seven large studios on site, all are operated by BBC Studioworks. However, only one (Studio D) is available for hire, the other six being permanently dedicated to EastEnders . There are also a number of smaller studios used for the filming of Holby City . The current configuration is as follows:
66 × 62 metric feet within fire lanes.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. It has an overhang in one corner with production galleries above, but these areas are no longer used.
70 × 62 metric feet within fire lanes.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. Like A, C and D, it has an overhang in one corner with production galleries above. The original gallery facilities have been modified into two separate production galleries for use on EastEnders, and both can control any of the studios on site (other than Studio D) plus the backlot.
102 × 68 metric ft within fire lanes.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. Like A, B and D, it has an overhang in one corner with production galleries above. The original gallery facilities have been converted into a switching and engineering area for BBC News' election broadcasts.
114 × 78 metric feet, excluding audience seating
The only studio on site available for hire via BBC Studioworks, 8,892 sq ft (826.1 m2) light-entertainment studio with permanent audience seating in a recessed area of one wall. Like A, B and C, it has an overhang in one corner with production galleries above. The adjacent Studio E, which is 1,134 sqft, is used as props handling.this is a
Adjacent to Studio D, Studio E, which is 1,134 square feet (105.4 square metres), is used as props handling.
154 × 60 metric feet outside fire lanes.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. It includes a number of control rooms and associated facilities along one wall, which can control the backlot plus any of the studios on site (other than Studio D). This is the home of the standing sets of The Queen Victoria and the cafe.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. Located in the same complex as Stage 1 and 3.
Part of the EastEnders studio facilities. Located in the same complex as Stage 1 and 2.
ABC Weekend TV was one of a number of commercial television companies established in the United Kingdom during the 1950s by cinema chain companies, in an attempt to safeguard their business by becoming involved with television, which was taking away their cinema audiences. In this case, the parent company was the Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), which initially did not wish to become involved with the new broadcasting system, but was persuaded to do so by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) and the manager of its Pathé News subsidiary Howard Thomas, who became the new company's managing director.
Associated Television was a British television broadcaster within the Independent Television (ITV) network. It provided a service to London at weekends from 1955 to 1968, to the Midlands on weekdays from 1956 to 1968, and to the Midlands all week from 1968 to 1982. It was one of the "Big Four" until 1968, and the "Big Five" after 1968, that between them produced the majority of ITV networked programmes. In 1982, ATV was restructured and rebranded as Central Independent Television, under which name it continued to provide the service for the Midlands.
ITV Central, previously known as Central Independent Television and Carlton Central, ITV1 for Central England and commonly referred to as simply Central, is the Independent Television franchisee for the Midlands. It was created following the restructuring of ATV and began broadcasting on 1 January 1982. The service is owned and operated by ITV plc under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Historically Central made a major contribution to the ITV network schedule- especially in entertainment and drama - but today its main responsibility is the regional news service.
Borehamwood is a town in southern Hertfordshire, England, 12 miles (19 km) from Charing Cross. Borehamwood has a population of 31,074, and is within the London commuter belt. The town's film and TV studios are commonly known as Elstree Studios.
Lew Grade, Baron Grade, OStJ, KC*SS, born Lev Winogradsky, was a British media proprietor and impresario. Originally a dancer, and later a talent agent, Grade's interest in television production began in 1954 when, in partnership, he successfully bid for franchises in the newly created ITV network, which led to the creation of Associated Television (ATV). Having worked for a time in the United States, he was aware of the potential for the sale of television programming to American networks. The Incorporated Television Company was formed with this specific objective in mind. Grade had some success in this field with such series as Gerry Anderson's various Supermarionation series such as Thunderbirds, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, and Jim Henson's The Muppet Show. Later, Grade invested in film production, but several expensive box office failures caused him to lose control of ITC, and ultimately resulted in the disestablishment of ATV after it lost its ITV franchise.
Elstree Studios is a generic term which can refer to several current and defunct British film studios and television studios based in or around the towns of Borehamwood and Elstree in Hertfordshire. Studios have been located there since film production began in the area during 1914.
Television Centre (TVC) is a building complex in White City, West London, that was the headquarters of BBC Television between 1960 and 2013. After a refurbishment, the complex reopened in 2017 with three studios in use for TV production, operated by BBC Studioworks. The first BBC staff moved into the Scenery Block in 1953, and the centre was officially opened on 29 June 1960. It is one of the most readily recognisable facilities of its type, having appeared as the backdrop for many BBC programmes. Parts of the building are Grade II listed, including the central ring and Studio 1.
Holby City is a British medical drama television series that airs weekly on BBC One. It was created by Tony McHale and Mal Young as a spin-off from the established BBC medical drama Casualty, and premiered on 12 January 1999. It follows the lives of medical and ancillary staff at the fictional Holby City Hospital, the same hospital as Casualty, in the fictional city of Holby, and has featured occasional crossovers of characters and plots with both Casualty and the show's 2007 police procedural spin-off HolbyBlue. It began with eleven main characters in its first series, all of whom have since left the show. New main characters have been both written in and out since, with a core of around fifteen main actors employed at any given time. In casting the first series, Young sought actors who were already well known in the television industry, something which has continued throughout its history, with cast members including Patsy Kensit, Jane Asher, Robert Powell, Ade Edmondson and John Michie.
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King's Meadow Campus is a university campus, that is part of the University of Nottingham, and is located in Nottingham. From 1983 until 2005, the complex was an ITV studio complex called East Midlands Television Centre and later The Television House & Carlton Studios.
The Incorporated Television Company (ITC), or ITC Entertainment as it was referred to in the United States, was a British company involved in production and distribution of television programmes.
The London Studios in Waterloo, Central London was a television studio complex owned by ITV plc and originally built for London Weekend Television. The studios were located in Central London, on the South Bank next to the IBM Building and the Royal National Theatre. The building was set on 2.5 acres of land and was 24 floors high. The London Studios closed on 30 April 2018. Many ITV programmes now come from BBC Studioworks' facility at the former BBC Television Centre, White City, London.
The Maidstone Studios, formerly called TVS Television Centre, is the UK's largest independent television studio complex, and is based at Vinters Park in Maidstone, Kent, UK. It has been home to a varied selection of independent British television programming including Later... with Jools Holland, Jools' Annual Hootenanny, Take Me Out, Catchphrase, as well as popular children's shows such as Mister Maker and Let's Play for CBeebies.
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Alpha Television was a British limited company which operated television studios in Aston, Birmingham from 1956 to 1970.
The Elstree Project is an oral history project which began in 2010. The project is conducted in partnership Howard Berry, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, and formerly involved Elstree Screen Heritage as a partner. The project is endorsed by the BECTU History Project and Elstree Studios.
Dock10 is a television facility owner and media services company, located in the City of Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Dock10 offers a number of services including post production and The Studios.
Elstree Studios on Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire is a British film and television production centre operated by Elstree Film Studios Limited. One of several facilities historically referred to as Elstree Studios, the Shenley Road studios first opened in 1925.
This is a timeline of the history of Central Independent Television.
This is a timeline of the history of ATV
The programme now uses up to four Thomson 1531 and two lightweight cameras.