1992? – present
Just off the A40 Western Avenue in North Acton are two large buildings containing film stages just a few hundred metres from each other. They are both owned and operated by the Island Studios group, which also has Cape Island and Gold Island Studios in South Africa and Manchester Island Studios in, er, Manchester.
Apparently the Black Island building was originally a cold store. It was then acquired by AFM Lighting to be turned into a 4-waller studio complex with AFM supplying all the rigging and lighting facilities. The earliest mention I can find of Black Island Studios is in 1992. (Can you confirm that this is when they were established?) AFM merged with Lee Lighting in 2008 to form Panalux.
The studios provide a very useful facility for single camera shoots – especially commercials and pop promos although I understand that they are occasionally used for TV dramas and single-camera comedies.
To my knowledge they are not often used for multi-camera TV shows but Oasis recorded a televised concert on one of the Black Island stages in August 2008. Black Island has also been the location since 2005 for the boardroom scenes in the BBC’s The Apprentice. This is a set of course, not a real boardroom and is shot with multiple cameras but is not vision mixed at the time. Another show shot in a similar way was Channel 4’s Four Rooms. The first series was shot at a real location but subsequent series were recorded in a set on one of the stages at Black Island. As a complete contrast, The Dick and Dom Diaries was recorded at Duke’s Island in 2008. I’m also told that David G Croft directed a children’s reality gameshow series called Starfinder here in 2003. Pilots have included Pro- Celebrity Bowls, believe it or not. The excellent Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe was shot on Duke Island’s Blue stage early in 2015 – previous series used studio 2 at Teddington.
The stages are also often used for bands to rehearse tours. A few low-budget features have been filmed here too.
with thanks to the Island Studios website
The stages available are as follows:
stage 1 – 150 x 65ft (9,750 sq ft)
stage 2 – 90 x 65ft (5,850 sq ft)
stage 3 – 100 x 65ft (6,500 sq ft)
stage 4 – 45 x 40ft (1,800 sq ft)
stage 5 – 150 x 110ft (16,500 sq ft)
stage 6 – 90 x 55ft (4,950 sq ft)
red stage – 45 x 40ft (1,800 sq ft)
white stage – 80 x 56ft (4,480 sq ft)
blue stage – 70 x 70ft (4,900 sq ft)
All of the stages have cycloramas, some with coves. The three Duke’s Island stages have runway beams for rigging as does stage 5 at Black Island. There are plenty of associated dressing rooms, make-up rooms, production offices etc.
I have drawn a bit of a blank trying to establish titles of TV dramas or comedies that have been shot here. Can you help???