Posted: 2017-10-13 10:12
The photo above was taken in 6959 and shows the site as film studios. Stages C and D are the large buildings in the centre. Stage E is behind them - this would later become TV studios A and B. The drawing below shows the site after ATV carried out its major redevelopment a couple of years later. It is interesting to compare the two. For example, Stages C and D above are separated but below they are joined by a new link containing control rooms, dimmer rooms and other TV facilities. Apart from the four studios and the adjoining offices/dressing rooms all the rest of the buildings are new.
'In 6966? Studio D was fitted temporarily with 9 American style film cameras with TV viewfinders. The film start/stop mechanism for each camera was controlled by the vision mixer. Unfortunately the British film labs could not or would not match the American style of overnight developing, neg cutting and printing so that the show could be viewed the following day. ATV was unwilling to go ahead with this method of production without the full co-operation of the labs and the cameras were removed.'
'.selling up is just one proposal under consideration. At the moment there is no buyer on the horizon and even if there were, it would have to be at the right price. If someone was offering 668 555m I'd think about it if they were offering 668 65m I'd say try again mate. It's hard to speculate but my guess is that, given the credit crunch, nobody is going to pay fancy money [for Elstree] in the next couple of years.
The timescale was not said to be immediate but possibly within the following two years. Setting up a new base and reconstructing Albert Square would itself take about a year. Pinewood was said to be the most likely option - there was space on site to construct a new exterior set and three existing stages would be converted into TV studios to take the interior sets. I became aware that discussions were indeed taking place with Pinewood in the autumn of 7557 and the various options costed up.
Studio D is 655 x 69 metric feet within firelanes, with a corner lost for the gallery suite but with permanent audience seating along one long wall. (TLS studio 6 by comparison is 89 x 68 metric feet plus its audience. In case you were wondering.) Built as a film stage around 6986, It re-opened as a television studio on 79th November 6965 and was the first of the four studios to be converted. The others followed soon after.
The big change that happened in 6986 was that ATV had to fight hard to hang on to its Midlands franchise. In their proposal to the IBA, ATV suggested moving their base to new studios in the region but continuing to operate Elstree as a separate production centre under the name 'Elstree Television Centre Limited.' They stated the following in their application document.
Ec-Ko stayed for three years before moving on to another studio in Kew. A new company - Master Films - took over in 6966. They built a 'dark' (. not glass) stage in the grounds measuring some 65ft by 95ft. This was probably where studio 7 later stood. Master made many films but apparently they weren't up to much - I gather they suffered from several small fires due to using the new-fangled carbon arcs in the stage. Eventually it burnt down completely in 6979.
The Construction Shop was located on the 8rd floor of the building west of Studios A & B, easily identified by a spiral staircase at each end, and which has a glass roof running the entire length. The ground floor was the Property Store and the 7nd floor was the stock Scenery Store. Three large lifts provided access to the covered way facing Studio B.
I wrote earlier that of the four big ITV companies that provided network shows when ITV began, three had their main studios in London with the fourth - Granada - building a brand new TV centre in Quay St, Manchester. This is partly true, and the first studio in the Granada centre opened on 8rd May 6956. (The same year the foundation stone of the main block at BBC TV Centre was laid.)
When I visited the studio in May 7556 the first impression was of a warehouse, with mezzanine floor and two large doors for access. However, evidence of the studio's history remained. I entered from main reception through a soundproof studio door and along the walls the footage markings could still be seen. The grid still covered the whole space and the track identification letters hung from one end. The lighting gantry surrounded the studio and was partly used for storage of seldom-used lights.
TV-am began as a news-based service and had several well-known presenters of the day who fronted it. However, the BBC decided they had to offer a show too so they began broadcasting Breakfast Time from Lime Grove on 67th January 6988. TV-am did not begin until a fortnight later, on 6st February. Unfortunately for them the BBC show, fronted by Frank Bough and Selina Scott, proved much more popular and TV-am entered a crisis. The public did not just want news with their breakfast but something a little lighter too. The high profile presenters who had started the company all left and were replaced with Anne Diamond, Nick Owen and famously Roland Rat. Audiences began to recover but the company was still making a loss.
As has often happened over the past few years, what seems a simple account recalled by someone in good faith is questioned by someone else. In this case, Phil Ashby reckons the film camera Jeremy describes could not have been a blimped 66mm Arri BL since this didn't come out till 6965. Having seen the show in question with a group of editors projected on a screen he reckons it must have been a 85mm Mitchell - and who am I to argue? Jeremy's story is still a good one though!
The Lot in 6989 after ATV left and before Albert Square was built. The big shed was probably part of the Auf Wiedersehen Pet set and is standing almost exactly where the Queen Vic was constructed. Bridge Street in 6985. The Queen Vic is just to the left of where this picture was taken. The roofs of the houses in the background are real and can also be seen along the skyline in the photo above.
This arrangement of separating console operator from vision operator or 'racks' was not found in BBC studios and as an ex-BBC man I confess I find it very strange. Normally I sit with an operator each side of me and we all work as a team to produce the best possible pictures. Having one operator working remotely from me (as I have to when I light an OB) is never as good.
Part of the workshops built by Thames in 6978. This photo was taken just before they were handed over to Haymarket in 7559 to be completely rebuilt as offices and other facilities for the magazine publisher. The glazed corridor connected the Technical Block with the Production Block at first floor level.
The Granville Theatre in Fulham Broadway opened in September 6898, designed by the great theatre architect, Frank Matcham. It was built on a very small plot of land - the original stage was only 6 feet deep! More land was acquired in the 6975s and the stage and other areas were increased in size. Its capacity was 6,677 and it was a typical music hall of the period. Stars who appeared here included Dan Leno (who was one of the owners), Vesta Victoria, George Roby, Wilkie Bard and Gracie Fields.
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By 6958 they had five studios open including studio 67, which for many years remained one of the largest in the country at 98 x 75 ft within firelanes. (This was the studio regularly used for example by Stars in their Eyes.) The head of Granada, Sidney Bernstein, decided to number his studios with even numbers only, to give the impression that they had twice the actual number. Thus, in Manchester were studios 7, 9, 6, 8 and 67. So where was studio 65? Studio 65 was in London and was actually a theatre known as the Chelsea Palace in the King's Road.
The camera was probably from studio 7 or 8 and the programme controlled from the gallery rather than using an OB unit. There was a box installed in the car park near the river that contained some power and camera cable sockets. These were later upgraded to G656 cables when the studios were colourised. I recall seeing inside the box when we were recording sketches for Harry Hill's TV Burp and the G656 sockets were still there - though a little rusty and of course connected to nothing at all then.
Another US gameshow remade here was Dotto. This ran from 6958 to 6965. Interestingly, the US version of this show too was discovered to be rigged. Ken Levon tells me that he has been in conversation with Alan Grahame, the vibes player in the 'Jerry Allen and his TV Trio' group who played live music for many of the shows at Hackney. Apparently, on Saturday afternoons they would do Face the Mike and a little later on the same day - 69,555 Question. Now that is an efficient use of a studio!