Riverside Studios is an arts centre on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith, London, England. The venue plays host to contemporary performance, film, visual art exhibitions and television production. Having closed for redevelopment in September 2014, Riverside Studios is scheduled to reopen in 2019.
|Public transit|| Hammersmith (District/Piccadilly)|
Hammersmith (Circle/Hammersmith & City)
|Type||Fringe theatre, Cinema, Television studio|
|Production||Mies Julie, Celebrity Juice, The Apprentice: You're Fired!, The York Realist, The Last Leg, Zambezi Express|
|Opened||1933 as Riverside Film Studio|
|Closed||2014 for redevelopment|
In 1933, a former Victorian iron foundry on Crisp Road, London, was bought by Triumph Films and converted into a relatively compact film studio with two stages and a dubbing theatre. In 1935 the studios were taken over by Julius Hagen (then owner of Twickenham Studios) with the idea of using Riverside as an overflow for making quota quickies. However, by 1937 his company had gone into liquidation. Between 1937 and 1946, the studios were owned by Jack Buchanan and produced such films as We'll Meet Again (1943) with Vera Lynn and The Seventh Veil (1945) with James Mason. In 1946 the studios were acquired by Alliance Film Studios (then owners of Twickenham Studios and Southall Studios) and produced films including They Made Me a Fugitive (1948) with Trevor Howard, The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) with Alistair Sim and Margaret Rutherford and Father Brown (1954) with Alec Guinness.
In 1954, the studio was acquired by the British Broadcasting Corporation for its television service. Renamed The BBC Riverside Television Studios, the building was officially opened on 29 March 1957 by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Series 2 to 6 of Hancock's Half Hour (1957–60) were made there, along with other comedy, drama and music programmes, including the science-fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit (1958–59), Dixon of Dock Green, Six-Five Special, Z-Cars, Top of the Pops, the children's programmes Blue Peter and Play School. Episodes of Doctor Who were made at Riverside between 1964 and 1968, and Studio 1 was where First Doctor William Hartnell's regeneration scene was filmed. The facility remained in regular use until the BBC left in 1974.
Riverside Studios / Riverside TrustEdit
In 1974, a charitable trust formed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council took control of the building, and two large multi-purpose spaces designed by Michael Reardon were created from the Studio's two main sound stages. While preparing Riverside's opening festival in 1976, the venue's first Artistic Director Peter Gill permitted an amateur West London music group called The Strand to use one of the performances spaces to rehearse. They went on to become The Sex Pistols. Riverside's original policy was to have a combination of in house and visiting company productions of classical and contemporary plays and dance. Running concurrently with the main programme were regular events and activities including a film, music, education, workshop and play reading programme.
Riverside Studios became fully operational in 1978 with Gill's landmark production of The Cherry Orchard, for which Julie Covington turned down the lead in Evita. The venue quickly acquired an international reputation for excellence and innovation with productions including The Changeling with Brian Cox and Robert Lindsay (1979), Measure for Measure with Helen Mirren (1979) and Julius Caesar with Phil Daniels (1980), as well as a variety of international work – including, notably, that of Polish theatre maestro Tadeusz Kantor. In 1978, Riverside hosted the first of many Dance Umbrella seasons, featuring the work of Rosemary Butcher and Richard Alston. Gill also offered residencies to artists including Bruce McLean and Ian Coughlin and companies such as the Black Theatre Co-operative (now nitroBEAT).
Art exhibitions (including 'Prints' by Howard Hodgkin, 1978) had been curated by Milena Kalinovska in Riverside's foyer, but following Gill's departure in 1980, a purpose-built gallery space was established under the directorship of Jenny Stein. The first exhibition was work by the painter and graphic artist Edvard Munch. Subsequent exhibitions included David Hockney (Paintings and Drawings for Parade, 1981), Antony Gormley (New Sculpture, 1984), Louise Bourgeois (Recent Work, 1990) and Yoko Ono (In Facing, 1990)
In 1980, Michael Clark was invited to become Riverside's first resident choreographer and made 16 original pieces at the Studios before establishing his own dance company in 1984. Also in 1980, Samuel Beckett directed the San Quentin Theatre Workshop's rehearsals of his play Endgame in Studio 2, returning to Riverside four years later to direct the same company in Waiting for Godot. On 2 November 1987, a 200-seat cinema was opened by the actress Vanessa Redgrave.
William Burdett-Coutts (also Artistic Director of Assembly) was appointed Artistic Director of Riverside Studios in 1993. While Riverside continued its multi-arts programming (hosting companies such as Complicite, The Wooster Group and Howard Barker's The Wrestling School), its 200-seat cinema was celebrated for its double bill programmes and the variety of international film festivals which took place annually. In 1996, television production returned to Riverside when TFI Friday with Chris Evans took up residence in Studio 1 (until 2000). CD:UK was broadcast from Riverside between 2003 and 2006, while later TV projects included Channel 4's T4 (2006–2009), Popworld and The Last Leg, BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks and ITV's Celebrity Juice (2008–2014).
In September 2014, Riverside closed for redevelopment.
London developer Mount Anvil, working in conjunction with A2 Dominion, redeveloped the old Riverside Studios and the adjacent Queen's Wharf building. Assael Architecture, were employed to design a new building on the site centred around 165 residential flats, with new studio facilities for theatre and television, two cinemas, a riverside restaurant and café/bar as well as flexible event spaces. As part of the redevelopment, a new riverside walkway connects to the Thames Path alongside the late Victorian Hammersmith Bridge.
During the redevelopment, Riverside continued to produce shows including Nirbhaya by Yael Farber at a number of international venues including Southbank Centre and Lynn Redgrave Theatre (2015), Raz, a new play by Jim Cartwright at Trafalgar Studios (2016) and A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow at the Arts Theatre (2016–17). Riverside's digital production team also recorded a number of theatre and dance productions for broadcast including Land of Our Fathers by Chris Urch, Northern Ballet's adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Out of Joint's production of The Winters Tale.
A blue plaque produced by the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group to commemorate Riverside's history was installed at the venue's main entrance in March 2018.
- Studio 1 - 6,500 sq ft (600 m2) HD and UHD studio with audience seating for 368 (capacity of 468), with links to BT Tower
- Studio 2 - 5,077 sq ft (471.7 m2) multi-use black-box studio with audience capacity of 400
- Studio 3 - 1,800 sq ft (170 m2) primarily theatre studio with audience capacity of 180
- Studio 4 - flexible events space with river views with capacity of 100
- Studio 5 - rehearsal/community space with capacity of 60
Selected television productionsEdit
- 1000 Heartbeats
- Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled (series one)
- Celebrity Juice
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks
- Revenge of the Egghead
- Robert's Web
- Russell Howard's Good News
- Sweat the Small Stuff
- TFI Friday
- That Sunday Night Show
- The Apprentice: You're Fired!
- The Elaine Paige Show
- The Last Leg
- Top of the Pops
- You Have Been Watching
- Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose
Selected theatre productionsEdit
- The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Joint Stock. Directed by William Gaskill (1978)
- St. Mark's Gospel devised, directed and performed by Alec McCowen (1978)
- Mama Dragon by Black Theatre Co-operative (1980)
- The Biko Inquest with Albert Finney, Nigel Davenport and Michael Gough (1984)
- Playing the Right Tune by Benjamin Zephaniah (1985)
- Twelfth Night with Richard Briers and Frances Barber. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (1988)
- The Pornography of Performance by The Sydney Front (1989)
- Hamlet with Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan (1992)
- The Seven Streams of the River Ota by Robert Lepage (1994)
- Antony and Cleopatra with Vanessa Redgrave (1994)
- Mnemonic by Complicite (2003)
- Phèdre with Sheila Gish. Directed by Deborah Warner (2002)
- Scaramouche Jones with Pete Postlethwaite (2002)
- The Exonerated with Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn, Danny Glover and Alanis Morissette. Directed by Bob Balaban (2006)
- Spectacular by Forced Entertainment (2008)
- 1800 Acres by David Myers with Cathy Tyson (2008)
- The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh (2009)
- Windmill Baby (winner of the Patrick White Playwrights' Award) by David Milroy and Ningali Lawford (2009)
- Salad Days by Tête à Tête (2010/11 and 2012/13)
- Troilus and Cressida by The Wooster Group and The Royal Shakespeare Company (2010)
- A Round-Heeled Woman: the play with Sharon Gless (2011)
- Mies Julie adapted from August Strindberg's Miss Julie by Yaël Farber (2013)
Selected dance productionsEdit
- Dance Umbrella (first London Dance Umbrella festival staged at Riverside and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1978)
- Empty Signals by Rosemary Butcher (1978)
- Rush by Michael Clark (1982)
- Set & Reset by Trisha Brown (1983)
- Of Shadows and Walls by Rosemary Butcher (1991)
- Twyla Tharp (1994)
- Stormforce by Rophin Vianney (2006)
- Episodes of Light by Rosemary Butcher (2008)
- Mamootot by Batsheva Dance Company (2008)
- Havana Rumba by Toby Gough (2009)
- Circa (contemporary circus) (2009)
- Dancing on Your Grave by Lea Anderson's The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs (2009)
- At Swim Two Boys by Earthfall Dance (2012)
- Chelsea Hotel by Earthfall Dance (2013)
Selected live comedy showsEdit
- Lenny Henry (1988)
- Peter Sellers Is Dead (with Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia, Kulvinder Ghir and Meera Syal. A precursor to the BBC radio and TV series' Goodness Gracious Me (BBC) (1995)
- Stand Up South Africa with Mel Miller (comedian) (2002)
- Ed Byrne: Me Again (2004) and Different Class (2008)
- Bill Bailey: Tinselworm (2007)
- Pappy's: Funergy (2009)
- Richard Herring: The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace (2009)
- Julian Clary (2010)
- Carl Barron (2011)
- Rhod Gilbert
- Wil Anderson
- Count Arthur Strong: The Man Behind the Smile
Selected music performancesEdit
- Toyah (1979)
- Sigue Sigue Sputnik (24 July 1985)
- Van Morrison and The Chieftans (1988)
- Prince (1999)
- David Bowie (2003)
- Annie Lennox (2003)
- Pink (2003)
- Metallica (2003)
- Amy Winehouse (2008)
- Stereophonics (2008)
- Kelis (2010)
- Lionel Richie
- Tom Robinson hosted live recording sessions for his BBC Radio 6 Music radio show, show Introducing... in Studio 3.
- "The BBC Riverside Television Studios: Some Aspects of Technical Planning and Equipment". BBC History. 14 January 1957. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- 'Direct Television from Alexandra Palace', by Arthur Dungate. A history of the Riverside Studios. http://www.vtoldboys.com/arthur/river.htm
- Nickels, H.C.; Grubb, D.M.B. (October 1957). "The BBC Riverside Television Studios: Some Aspects of Technical Planning and Equipment" (PDF). BBC Engineering Division Monograph. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- "Riverside Studios". Theatres Trust. 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- 'I was a Teenage Sex Pistol', by Glen Matlock. (Pub. Reynolds & Hearn, 2006).
- "Jazz on a Summer's Night: Sophisticated Lady (1990)", BFI.
- "Riverside Studios – Our History". Riverside Studios. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- Dams, Tim (24 January 2019). "Riverside Studios now taking bookings ahead of August reopening". Broadcast. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- "RTVS – Riverside TV Studios". www.riversidetv.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- Hamilton, Margaret. Transfigured Stages: Major Practitioners and Theatre Aesthetics in Australia, Editions Rodopi, Amsterdam 2011, ISBN 978-90-420-3356-6
- David Bowie, Riverside Studios, London and various cinemas
- Amy Winehouse Obituary
- BB6: Introducing...