An incomplete history of London’s television studios

Welcome to my website.  I’m a recently retired lighting director and over my long career I worked in most of London’s TV studios – many of which sadly no longer exist.  I have also lit shows in a number of studios around the rest of the country.

Originally a BBC staffer, I went freelance in 2002 and began to ask a few colleagues with many years’ experience what they remembered of the good old times in the studios I was now working in.  For my own benefit really, I started to explore further using the Internet and a number of out of print publications.

In 2006 I created this website, which was updated with new software in 2021.  Initially there were many omissions and plenty of errors but thanks to people contacting me, these have been gradually corrected over the years.  I am still very much welcoming any comments and, of course, corrections and additions.  Over 300 people have contributed so far and I am very much in their debt for taking the trouble to write or talk to me.

TV Studio History

In fact, I have received well over 2,500 email messages in total – some with corrections or additional information, others simply saying thanks.

If you send me any photos I will assume that you consent to them being published here.  Please go to the ‘bibliography and links’ page for a list of some of those who have provided information.

Explore the website

This website is very large so don’t expect to read it all in a single day!  I have divided it into sections, within which the individual studios are listed.  Feel free to dip in and out as the mood takes you – but do explore areas you know nothing about.  You may be surprised at what you discover. 

And if you enjoy what you see – please tell other people about it.  I’ve written it for fun, not money and hope that others find the information within it as fascinating as I did researching it.

Please look at the Introduction page – it includes a summary of how the industry is currently provided with facilities and some important definitions – explaining for instance the difference between a studio and a stage.

backup

the technical entertainment charity

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, many freelancers have been left in severe financial straits.  Backup is a charity that supports industry technical professionals working in live events, theatre, television and film who through no fault of their own are unable to support themselves or their families.

If you have enjoyed reading this website, can I ask you to consider making a donation?  Please visit www.backuptech.uk to find out how you can help.  Even a few pounds will make a difference.

Martin Kempton

About the author

Martin Kempton joined the BBC as a trainee camera assistant in 1976, based at Television Centre.  He soon became a cameraman and after 9 years moved across to the lighting department.  Following a few years as a racks operator, then console operator, he was promoted to lighting director in 1990.

He left the BBC and went freelance in 2002.  His CV spans comedy, entertainment and drama and he has lit many well-known shows.  He has been shortlisted on 10 occasions for Knight of Illumination Awards, winning 3 times.  He has also received 7 RTS Craft Award nominations, winning twice and is the proud owner of a Welsh Bafta.  His IMDb page can be found here – Martin Kempton – IMDb

Elstree PCR
Lime house Rocki n the Dock M. Hawkins
Studio
TV control room

Important Copyright Information

A little word of warning to students: the written material on this site is copyright.  You may not copy it and use it as your own work!  Please – if you are wishing to use any written material for publication in a book, TV or radio programme or on-line, feel free to ask and I shall try to be as helpful as possible.

Do not assume that any images are free to be copied or used elsewhere.  Most have been sent to me with the intention of being used only on this website and I can’t say it is OK to use them anywhere else.  Some are personal photographs, others may have been copied from publications without my knowledge.

Please don’t write to me asking for permission to use the images.  That permission is not mine to give.  If you believe that you own the copyright to any image displayed here and wish it to be removed – or just perhaps given a credit if one is missing – I will of course be happy to oblige.  Many of the illustrations are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders according to the original copyright or publication date as printed on the artwork or publication and are reproduced here simply for historical reference, educational and research purposes. 

Get In Touch

Do contact me if you have any snippets of information to add.  If you read something here you’re sure isn’t correct – PLEASE let me know!  In my defence I would say that I have found many examples of contradictory information, dates etc but I have done my best to establish the most likely correct ones.  I shall happily add your name to the list of credits – unless you wish to remain anonymous.