Wimbledon Studios entering administration is the latest blow to the studios sector in London. Click to view the dwindling TV studio space remaining in and around the M25.
The uncertainty surrounding Wimbledon’s future has prompted BBC2’s Hat Trick comedy Episodes to relocate to Elstree Studios. Avalon’s Russell Howard’s Good News (BBC2) and RDF’s Tipping Point (ITV) had also been expected to shoot at the south London studios later this year.
The potential loss of Wimbledon’s two 8,000 sq ft studios to thirdparty production will be followed next month by the three year closure of Riverside Studios, home of shows such as The Last Leg and Celebrity Juice. Meanwhile, Not Going Out, which will TX in the autumn, was the last show to shoot at Pinewood Shepperton’s TVfocused Teddington facility.
Furthermore, BBC Studios and Post Production delayed its return to Television Centre by two years in July. It will not return to the redeveloped site to operate studios 1, 2 and 3 until 2017 (it will continue to provide studios and post production services at Elstree).
The rising value of London property has been a significant factor. Teddington Studios will be replaced with housing, while the redevelopment of both Television Centre and Riverside Studios will combine flats with studio space.
Hundreds of thousands of sq ft of additional studio space within the M25 is either being built or due to be available in the next couple of years, with Pinewood’s Buckinghamshire facility accounting for the vast majority of the development.
However, the extra space is “not a likeforlike” replacement for the lost TV studios. Pinewood’s recently greenlit expansion will add 12 large studios and stages, with three around 40,000 sq ft in size, while Warner Bros Leavesden plans to build one 35,000 sq ft stage and two 17,000 sq ft buildings.
Elstree Studios managing director Roger Morris said the loss or threat to “TV-scalable stages” of 8,00010,000 sq ft is creating problems. “Big, shiny, light entertainment shows like huge stages, but there is an awful lot of TV that isn’t shiny floor, and a lot of commercials that also need space. It’s great to say that you can fit a small production in a big studio, but it does cost. Large studios might be suitable for huge feature films, but they are not suitable for all,” he said.
With Elstree Studios turning away work, the facility is preparing to add additional space to its site at Borehamwood. It is weighing up proposals to replicate its existing George Lucas stages (2 x 16,000 sq ft stages) with the construction of a similar setup that will add a total of 32,000 sq ft.