London’s film Studios

…that have been used to make TV

 

When is a film studio a television studio?  Or vice versa?  It’s not that simple in some cases deciding where each studio should belong.  Pinewood is arguably the UK’s premier film studio – but it also has two of the best equipped large TV studios on its site.  Nevertheless, its primary function is film so it’s here.  Similarly, Elstree Studios now have several very well equipped multicamera TV studios.  But their history is in film – so they are here too.

Of course, ‘film’ hardly exists any more as an originating medium – most features shot in the UK use digital video cameras – often the same cameras that are used to shoot TV dramas.  The lines are thus becoming even more blurred.

So – by a ‘film studio’ I mean a site with several sound stages – most of which are simple 4-wallers.  These can be used to shoot feature films or TV dramas, single camera TV comedies, ads, pop promos, and so on.  They can also be used to make multicamera TV shows too – using a temporary flat floor and an OB unit for facilities.

Anyway, if you can’t find the studio you’re looking for on this page it may be on the Independent TV Studios page.  I haven’t included Denham incidentally as, to my knowledge, those extraordinary studios never produced any television, just features.

And yes, I have included studios on this page that are not actually in London but close enough to be associated with the capital.

 

 

 

Film studios listed below in the order they originally opened or are planned to open:

 

 

As well as the major studios listed above, London also has a number of other ‘film and TV’ studios dotted about that are available for hire.  Most of these are relatively small and almost all are a conversion of an industrial building – usually with a smart client room/green room and a few rooms for wardrobe/make-up.  They often have a simple scaffold grid, pre-lit semi permanent green screens or white cycs and sometimes a local stock of lights or even a camera or two for hire.  Their stages provide a very useful facility to people making commercials, pop promos or who need to shoot a simple interview or talking head.  Here are some examples:

(Those in red have closed since first appearing on this list.)

 

Broadley Studio –   2 stages, 1 of 670sq ft (29 x 24ft) and the other of 415 sq ft (23 x 18ft.)  Studio 1 has a white infinity cove, green screen and TV, sound and lighting kit available.  Studio 2 also has white infinity cove and optional green screen.  There is also a virtual studio with a 4K gallery.

Camberwell Studios – 2 stages of 1,300 sq ft and 400 sq ft. Both stages have pre-lit green screens with cove.

The Camden Studio – 1 pre-lit stage of 1,300 sq ft (39 x 33ft) with L-shaped cyc

Centrestage Studios – 2 purpose built stages of 2,500 sq ft (50 x 50ft) and 1,500 sq ft (50 x 30ft) with permanent white and green cycs.  Constructed after former studios in Euston were redeveloped.

Filmscape Studios  –  a single 2,000 sq ft stage with white cyc at one end.

Halliford Studios  – (opened in 1955 for the shooting of commercials) –  2 stages of 3,600 sq ft (60 x 60ft) and 2,400 (60 x 40ft) sq ft with permanent cycs.  Sadly, these studios closed in July 2018 to make way for a development of 24 houses. The last production was  Tracy Ullman Breaks the News, for BBC1.

Magic Eye Studios – now closed  but used to have 4 or 5 stages up to about 2,500 sq ft.  Perhaps surprisingly, the largest stage was used for an early series of The Weakest Link using an OB truck.

Mount Pleasant Studio a single pre-lit stage of 1,270 sq ft (41 x 31ft)

Silver Road studios  – 4 stages from 920 sq ft – 190 sq ft (an equipped TV production gallery was also available plus SD cameras.) Closed at the end of July 2014.

SLV – 2 stages of 850 sq ft (37 x 23ft) and 280 sq ft (21 x 14ft)

Waterloo Film studios (opened in 1993) – 4 stages – 2,100 sq ft, 1,280 sq ft, 750 sq ft, 200 sq ft.  The company that ran these – Spectrecom Films – now operates the old Cactus TV studios in Kennington. Waterloo Studios closed towards the end of 2014.

Green Rock/TOG Studios  –  (opened in June 2018)  an equipped  TV studio of 600 sq ft in Henry Wood House.

 

 

 

It is also worth noting that due to the current shortage of suitable stages, many TV dramas and even some features are being shot in old deserted factories and leaky warehouses.  These include places like the Gillette Building in Isleworth where 24: Live Another Day was made, the Peak Freans factory in Bermondsey, where Spooks and Hustle were shot, the old Tate and Lyle building in Greenwich, where The Smoke was filmed and Neasden Studios (an ex-carpet warehouse) where Mr Selfridge was made.

 

In recent years, temporary or ‘rapid build’ stages have also been used – for example, the 2019 series of Endeavour was mostly shot on a large temporary stage at Langleybury Farm, near Leavesden Studios.    Filmfloor is the company that supplied that one – as well as the buildings erected at Bray Studios in 2020.  Stage 50 is another company – they supplied the stages at Farnborough Studios; Acorn Structures built the stages at Bovingdon and Meridian Water, and Serious Stages have supplied to Pinewood and Longcross.

These stages can be very useful to fill a much-needed gap in the UK’s resources.  Their designs differ but all of them have sound treatment to the walls and a grid capable of supporting considerable weights.

 

 

NB – Film studios are almost always measured in feet, not metres.  They also hardly ever have footage markings on the studio walls.  That is because in the movie world a set is built on a stage in a position that is convenient to the scene crew.  When it is finished, the DoP will look at the set and tell his gaffer where he wants each lamp to be rigged.  This will happen over the following few hours or even days.  In the TV world, the set is designed and a plan is sent to the lighting director before it is erected in the studio.  He or she will then design the lighting on paper or computer for that set, based on the designer’s drawings.  This is called a lighting plot.  Using the LD’s plot, the lights will be hung in specific positions in the studio – either on bars or monopoles (telescopes) or sometimes trusses.  So the lights are rigged BEFORE the set is built.  It is essential therefore that the set is erected within a few centimetres of where it was drawn on the designer’s plan or the lighting will not work.

Copyright information: As on the rest of this website – please do not use or ask permission to use any of these images in books or other publications or on TV programmes or commercially run websites. 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 for historical reference and research purposes. If you do own the copyright to any image displayed here and wish it to be credited or removed, please contact me and I shall of course be happy to oblige.

 

 

An apology – firstly for all those errors which are almost certainly still sprinkled throughout the above.  I shall do my best to put them right when I discover them or when somebody contacts me with the facts!