Battersea Power Station in popular culture
Battersea Power Station has been featured in many forms of media and culture: it can be seen on several album covers by rock and pop groups, in a number of music videos, and has appeared in many films and television programmes in its more than 70-year history.
Author of a book on Battersea Power Station Peter Watts thinks one of the main reasons for the building's worldwide recognition is due to it having appeared on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Animals. Developed by long-time Floyd collaborators design studio Hipgnosis, the album sleeve featured photography, taken in early December 1976, of the power station with the group's inflatable pink pig, named Algie, floating above it. The inflatable was made in Germany by Ballon Fabrik (aka the Zeppelin Airship company), to the design of Australian artist Jeffrey Shaw. The 30-foot (9-metre)-long pig was tethered between two of the power station's southern chimneys. During the shoot, it broke loose from its moorings and, to the astonishment of the pilots of approaching planes, rose into the flight path of Heathrow Airport. Police helicopters tracked its course, until it landed in Kent. Video footage of the photoshoot was used in the promotional video for the song "Pigs on the Wing". The album was officially launched at an event at the power station.
The Pink Floyd image has been much referenced, parodied and paid homage to, for instance on:
- The US cover of The Orb's 1991 album, Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.
- The back cover of Les Claypool's Frog Brigade's 2001 album, Live Frogs Set 2, which is a full cover of Pink Floyd's Animals.
The station can also be seen on various other pieces of album artwork, including:
- The booklet art for The Who's 1973 album, Quadrophenia.
- The photograph on the sleeve of Hawkwind's 1977 album, Quark, Strangeness and Charm, is of the B Station's control room.
- The cover of Jan Hammer's 1988 12" single of "The Runner (marathon mix)".
- The back cover of Morrissey's 1990 album Bona Drag.
- The background art for the cover of the 2001 Petula Clark boxed set, Meet Me in Battersea Park.
- The cover of London Elektricity's 2005 album, Power Ballads. Silhouettes of the station's coal cranes were used on the cover of the group's Hanging Rock single.
- A photograph on the inside case of Muse's 2009 album, The Resistance.
- Battersea Power Station was also the name of Junior's Eyes' 1969 album. Junior's Eyes went on to become David Bowie's backup band for a brief period in the late 1960s.
The power station has often been used as a shooting location or as a backdrop in music artists' promotional videos. Such uses include:
- Footage from the photoshoot of the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals is used in a video for their 1977 song "Pigs on the Wing". During the song "Money" at their 2005 Live 8 performance, the power station was briefly shown when the camera panned out away from the stage.
- The Jam shot the promotional video for their 1978 single "News of the World" on the roof of the power station. Photos from the shoot featuring the station also appear on the sleeve of the "Snap!" compilation album.
- A scene from Bill Wyman's promotional video for his 1981 single, "Je Suis un Rock Star", shows the station in the background.
- The station appeared in the video for the 1982 hit single "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" by heavy metal band Judas Priest.
- Tori Amos filmed the video for her 1996 single "Talula" inside the station.
- The station appears in the 1997 music video by American pop band Hanson, for their song "Where's the Love".
- It was rented by Bruce Dickinson in 1999 to be a film location for the video to "Man of Sorrows".
- Texas filmed the video for their 1999 single "In Our Lifetime" inside the station.
- The hard rock band Europe shot some scenes of the video clip "Open Your Heart" (1988), at the station.
- The band Biffy Clyro shot the music video for their 2010 single, "Many of Horror", at the station.
- In Take That's video for their 2010 single, "The Flood", the group pass by the station while rowing down the River Thames.
- Served as a backdrop for Ayumi Hamasaki's music video for the song, "Return Road", from her 13th album, "Party Queen".
- Chimneys are observed in the music One Thing by One Direction.
- The power station is featured behind the credits of Nice for What by Drake (musician).
The power station is also written about, or mentioned in, various songs.
Television and filmEdit
- The station was used in the opening scene of Alfred Hitchcock's 1936 film, Sabotage.
- The station can be seen in several key scenes in Val Guest's 1961 doomsday black comedy The Day the Earth Caught Fire, most prominently when a dense fog rolls up the Thames
- The station was the focal point of action in the film High Treason, in which a cell of saboteurs plot to destroy the station (among others) to disrupt Britain's power grid. The film has extensive interior scenes.
- It has appeared numerous times in the long-running British science fiction series Doctor Who. It appeared briefly in the episode The Dalek Invasion of Earth in 1964, which saw the station in the 22nd century with two chimneys demolished, and a nearby nuclear reactor dome. It appeared again in the 2006 Doctor Who episodes "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Age of Steel" as the base to which Londoners are drawn to be converted into Cybermen.
- It appeared briefly in The Beatles' 1965 film Help!, with a caption identifying it as "a famous power station".
- It can be seen near the end of the 1967 film Smashing Time, when the station appears to explode.
- The station is seen in the 1967 science fiction film The Projected Man.
- The A Station's control room was used as the location for the "Find The Fish" segment of Monty Python's 1983 film The Meaning of Life.
- It is in the background, belching out smoke, of the opening shot of the "Hell's Grannies" sketch in Monty Python's 1971 film And Now for Something Completely Different.
- The station's interior was used for a closing scene featuring Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor and Larry Lamb in the 1983 film Superman III, where it doubled as an American coal mining operation.
- It was used as the external façade of the Victory Mansions in Michael Radford's 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- A stylised image of the station appears in the title sequence of Agatha Christie's Poirot, which began airing in 1989. The series was set in the late 1930s, when the power station comprised only the western half – the remainder was added in the 1950s, long after the events of the show had ended.
- The power station was the location for a weather changing machine in the children's sci-fi series "The Tomorrow People" in 1994 in the episode "Monsoon Man".
- The station stood in for an Eastern European military camp in the 1994 MacGyver TV movie, The Lost Treasure of Atlantis.
- In Ian McKellen's 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III, the derelict power station stands in for Bosworth Field in Richard's final battle scene.
- In the "Knightsbridge" episode of Neil Gaiman's 1996 television series Neverwhere, the station appears as the aboveground landmark for the London Below Floating Market.
- A computer generated version of the power station appeared briefly in the background of a 2006 episode of the ABC television series Lost entitled "Fire and Water", sporting an identifying sign saying "Widmore Construction". This was the first introduced of one of the show's principal antagonists, Charles Widmore.
- In Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film, Children of Men, the station appears converted as the "Ark of Art" in 2027. The building contains art treasures salvaged from nations whose governments have collapsed and preserved for a "posterity". It contains a shattered and rebuilt Michelangelo's David, and Picasso's Guernica. An inflatable pig is tethered to the exterior of the building, a reference to the Animals album cover.
- In May 2007, Battersea Power Station played a central role in episode 5 of series 4 of the BBC TV series New Tricks.
- In October 2007, the power station was used as a filming location for the Batman movie, The Dark Knight. The station's stripped, empty interior was used as a setting for a burnt out warehouse.
- Starting in December 2007, the interior of the power station was used in Terry Gilliam's film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
- In 2008, the power station was used as a location for the film Happy-Go-Lucky.
- The station was featured in Guy Ritchie's 2008 film, RocknRolla.
- In April 2010, the station was featured in the BBC television series Ashes to Ashes.
- In March 2010, the movie Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang briefly showed the station, with a silver inflatable pig tethered between two smokestacks.
- In October 2010, auditions for Sky1's Got to Dance programme were held at the station.
- The 2010 film The King's Speech used the A station control room to represent the BBC's wireless control room.
- The 2011 Bollywood film Ra.One was shot at the power station.
- The 2010 BBC's series Sherlock features some scenes at the power station.
- The power station appeared briefly in the film Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
- The Power Station was used in a 1992 advert for Burger King acting as a filming location for a movie.
Other uses in cultureEdit
- The "Power Plant" structures in the 1996 PC game Command & Conquer: Red Alert closely resemble the power station. Both are similar, with the ordinary power plant structure having two towers and the advanced power plant having four towers, the structures resembling the Battersea plant in its various stages.
- The station is featured in the 1999 video game, Grand Theft Auto: London 1969.
- A brown version of the power station can be seen in the 2001 video game Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, in the mission "Invincible Fleet".
- In recent years, the building has played host to concerts and to performances by the Cirque du Soleil. In 2000, the company voiced plans to permanently convert the building into an "urban circus".
- In 2004, photographer Vera Lutter used the station in several pieces of her work. She created the photographs by turning shipping containers into giant pinhole cameras and placing them in front of the building for several days.
- Between 8 October and 5 November 2006, the Serpentine Gallery took up residence in the power station for the exhibition China Power Station: Part I. It displayed the work of "an extraordinary and vibrant new generation of Chinese artists and architects".
- In 2007, replicating the pig from Pink Floyd, promoters flew a giant inflatable SpiderPig to promote the release of The Simpsons Movie that year.
- On 23 and 24 October 2008, the station was used for the Channel 4 Freeze event. The event included a snow jump and music performances.
- The 2009 video game Colin McRae: Dirt 2 allows the player to race through the disused power station. The power station is also featured in the 2011 game Dirt 3, and in Dirt: Showdown.
- The 2009 BBC Radio 4 radio play, The Mouse House, features a storyline centred around Battersea Power Station.
- Since 22 August 2009, the station has been used as a venue on the Red Bull X-Fighters season.
- On 13 April 2010 the station site was used as the venue for the manifesto launch of the Conservative Party led by David Cameron during the general election campaign for the UK Parliament at Westminster. Between 6 and 7 May 2010, the station site was used by Sky News in their coverage of the election.
- The station was featured on the cover of the novel Dead Air, by Iain Banks.
- On 28 February 2011, Helen Skelton presenter of the BBC children's television show Blue Peter, successfully managed a high wire walk between two of Battersea power station's chimneys.
- In the introductory video of the ceremony of London 2012 Olympic Games, there is an aerial shot from the chimneys.
- In 2012, mobile network operator EE constructed a projector screen between two of the station's chimneys to show a 4D film to launch their new 4G network, the first one in the UK.
- In October 2018, the book "The Battersea Power Station - Alles Battersea" by Monika Hermeneit appeared as paperback and as an ebook.
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