The London Studios
The London Studios (also known as The South Bank Studios, The London Television Centre, ITV Towers and Kent House) in Waterloo, Central London was a television studio complex owned by ITV plc and originally built for London Weekend Television. The studios were located in Central London and were situated on the South Bank next to The IBM Building and the Royal National Theatre. The building was set on 2.5 acres of land and was 24 floors high. The London Studios closed on 30 April 2018.
|The London Studios|
|Former names||The South Bank Television Centre|
|Alternative names||The ITV Studios
London Television Centre
|Elevation||85 m (279 ft)|
|Renovated||Studios closed 30 April 2018, renovation planned for September 2018 when office staff fully vacated to Waterhouse Square, Grays Inn road, with studio facilities moved to Television Centre (leased until site renovation completed)|
|Demolished||Planned September 2018 onwards
(Entire site being rebuilt including tower, completion anticipated around 2023)
|Floor area||2.5 acres|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Clarke Nicholls and Marcel, Civil and Structural Engineers|
|Main contractor||Higgs and Hill|
The facilities were the main studios for ITV, along with a number of production companies including ITV Studios and Shiver based in Kent House tower, while the studios were home to many entertainment, game and daytime shows. These include Good Morning Britain, The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show. The studios were also used for other programmes from various other channels including BBC and Channel 4. ITV Creative who promote programmes on the ITV network were also based at the London Studios.
On 21 February 2017, it was announced that ITV would be closing the site in mid-2018 for a 5 years for large-scale redevelopment and that the new South Bank complex would result in the loss of most of the studios space, and the majority of the Studio space will be rented out of Studioworks in Whitecity, London, which is owned by the BBC. There will only be three studios in the new complex for the daytime ITV shows such as Good Morning Britain, This Morning and Loose Women when they return from Television Centre.
When LWT succeeded ATV for the London weekend ITV franchise in 1968, it rented Associated-Rediffusion's old studios at Wembley (later known as The Fountain Studios) whilst plans for a new studio complex in central London were drawn up.
The site for the development was chosen beside the new Royal National Theatre on the South Bank of the River Thames. It was purchased in 1969 and construction work, awarded to Higgs and Hill, commenced in 1970 with the centre opening for transmission in 1972, although it was not fully operational until 1974. The complex was owned by the pension fund of the National Coal Board and leased by the station. It was originally called The South Bank Television Centre (a name that lasted until the early 1990s) and at the time was the most advanced television centre in Europe.
On social media, the building is named 'ITV Towers' since the purchase in January 2013. However, the official name of the building is The London Television Centre (with the studio business branded as 'The London Studios') with that being the logo in reception and around the building.
Kent House TowerEdit
Kent House is a 24-story tower block, and is home to ITV plc and many production offices including ITV Studios and Shiver Productions. During the 1990s the block was also home to Carlton Television and GMTV. It is seen in the titles of Good Morning Britain and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.
Main Studio BlockEdit
Sandwiched between the tower block and the River Thames is the main studio block, housing studios 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7, the restaurant, the takeaway bar (prior studio cafe), management offices, edit facilities, make-up and wardrobe. It was designed by London-based architecture practice Elsom Pack & Roberts.
On the east side of the site, there is a neighbouring building called Gabriel's Wharf. Previously belonging to Younger's Brewery, this three-storey building was added later to the site as a scenery store. When This Morning moved from Liverpool, the 3,000 square feet (280 m2) studio 8 was converted from the riverside end of the first storey.
The site houses programme production offices, edit suites, dubbing suites, VTR studio booths and graphic booths.
Audiences are used in many productions at The London Studios. The audience are instructed to queue to the left hand side of the studios near to the reception entrance and under a cover where they will be escorted into one of the studios once security checked. There are two waterproof TV screens with the live ITV programmes shown on them. There are several hand-prints displayed in the audience waiting area with hand-prints of presenters including Vernon Kay, Al Murray, Melvyn Bragg, Lorraine Kelly, Paul O'Grady, Graham Norton, Stephen Fry, Fern Britton, Phillip Schofield, Davina McCall, Des Lynam, Fiona Phillips, Eamonn Holmes, Alan Carr, Justin Lee Collins, Gabby Logan, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, Ben Elton, Frances de la Tour, Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen.
Between 1999 and 2017 there have been a total of nine different studios during the complex's lifespan, but by the Studios closure there were six. It should also be noted that there are weather studios producing the ITV national, and some of the network's regional forecasts at ITN's headquarters in Gray's Inn Road.
- Studio 1 - 8,350 sq ft (776 m2) - The largest studio on the complex. This studio was home to programmes such as All Star Family Fortunes, All Star Mr & Mrs, The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Text Santa. The studio had a permanent fixed balcony seating area which, along with movable seating, could accommodate audiences of up to 638. This made the studio popular for large audience based shows. Studio 1 was upgraded to HD in December 2009.
- Studio 2 - 7,271 sq ft (675.5 m2) - The second largest on the complex housed shows such as Piers Morgan's Life Stories, The Alan Titchmarsh Show, Let's Do Lunch with Gino & Mel, Have I Got News for You and It'll Be Alright on the Night. The studio could accommodate large audiences of up to 462. The studio could also be used as a bare shell as the audience seating structure coulf be moved out. Studio 2 was upgraded to HD in the summer of 2009.
- Studio 3 - 3,136 sq ft (291.3 m2) - This studio housed daily chatshow Loose Women, political chat show Peston on Sunday and ITV Breakfast programme Lorraine. The studio could accommodate audiences of up to 150. The studio also had an "in-the-round" seating feature with up to 108 audience capacity, with the presenters and set in the middle with the audiences seated around them. It did briefly become the home of GMTV from July to September 2010 before the launch of Daybreak. This studio then became the home for Daybreak between September 2012 and April 2014. Studio 3 was upgraded to HD in the summer of 2012.
- Studio 4 - Located in the tower block, LWT’s in-vision continuity was broadcast from here until out-of-vision continuity was introduced, when studio 4 was closed. It has since been converted back to offices.
- Studio 5 - 2,268 sq ft (210.7 m2) - Based at the bottom of Kent House. This studio was previously used by GMTV from January 1993 to July 2010 (before it temporarily moved to Studio 3), The Big Match from 1972 to 1992 and World of Sport (UK TV series) from 1972 to 1985. From April 2014, Good Morning Britain began using this studio.
- Studio 6 - There has never been a 'Studio 6' on the complex. There is however a bar and restaurant in Gabriel's Wharf next door named 'Studio Six'.
- Studio 7 - 2,050 sq ft (190 m2) - Located in the studio block on the river's bank, this studio presented panoramic views over the London skyline, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Studio 7 was home to the London News Network’s local news bulletins from 1993 until 2004. It was built in 1993 for the newly created London News Network, a company which provided local news for the ITV Network in London. Prior to 1993, LWT, the London weekend ITV franchisee, had produced news bulletins for London on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays from studio 10, whilst Thames Television had provided its own news during the rest of the week from its own studios. The new partnership between the new London weekday licensee Carlton and LWT meant one news bulletin would be seen all week, 'London Tonight'. After the Carlton and Granada merger to form ITV plc however, LNN was disbanded and Independent Television News took over the contract. London Tonight is now produced in their studios on Grays Inn Road. It was then used as the home of ITV Sport and also for Loose Women, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! NOW!, Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two, and various specials for Canadian television. ITV's breakfast programme Daybreak used the studio from 6 September 2010 to 31 August 2012. For the launch of Daybreak, the studio was converted to high-definition. It has continued to be used by ITV Sport, most recently for its coverage of IPL Cricket on ITV4, as well as use for CBBC's Friday Download.
- Studio 8 - 2,958 sq ft (274.8 m2) - This studio was located beside the main complex in the building known as Gabriel’s Wharf. Daytime show This Morning occupied this studio after the show moved to London from Liverpool in 1996. It had three large one-way mirrored windows overlooking the Thames which appeared silver from the outside, restricting people being able to see in from the outside and reducing glare inside.
- Studio 9 - This small studio was used when ITV2 used in-vision announcers and was located next to studio 7. It was used for the studio's tapeless recording system allowing editors to edit programmes shortly after they have been recorded.
- Studio 10 - Studio 10 was on the 10th floor of the tower and was used for London’s weekend and Friday evening’s local news (produced originally by LWT) as well as Crime Monthly before studio 7 was built. This studio was equipped with Philips cameras and a show entitled Talk TV was output from here for Talk Digital Channel before the studio was converted into offices in 2003. The studio was visible from the South Bank by looking towards the tower with your back facing St. Paul's Cathedral and noting the studio’s windows (which are slightly blue and clearer in comparison to the other windows).
The studios were originally built by the London weekend ITV franchise holder, London Weekend Television (LWT). In 1993 Carlton Television won the London weekday franchise from Thames Television, but unlike Thames, Carlton didn’t have any of their own studios or property. Carlton therefore rented space in the tower from 1993 for their own post production and continuity facilities. The rental agreement continued until 2002 when an agreement was reached for Carlton to be permanently based within space used by LWT; in the intervening years LWT had been taken over by Granada plc and a close relationship had developed between Granada and Carlton. This led to consolidation within the ITV network and an agreement for the two to work together as ITV London.
Since 2002, all the ITV plc-owned regions' continuity before national programmes has been presented from the London Studios, as well as continuity before regional programmes in the following regions: Meridian, Westcountry, HTV West, Anglia, the non-franchise ITV Thames Valley region and since 2006 HTV Wales, although between 2002-2006 the Welsh stations continuity was recorded and sent electronically to London. The complex also houses the continuity of ITV plc's digital channels ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV. The site also handled the playout of all the above until 2007, when the service was outsourced to Technicolor Network Services (TNS) (now part of Ericsson). The play-out is now run from Ericsson's broadcast centre in Chiswick.
Ericsson now provides network feeds to transmission centres in Leeds (home of the Northern Transmission Centre, which was also originally taken over by TNS as part of the outsourcing deal) and Glasgow (STV).
In 1994, Granada Group took over LWT, thus acquiring the building. When ITV franchises were permitted to take one another over in the 1990s (which had previously been restricted), Carlton and Granada, between the two companies, eventually owned all the franchises in England and Wales. By the time the two companies merged in 2004, all of Carlton’s studios had either been sold, or were surplus to requirements, so were sold soon after. Although the parent companies merged, and are now one (called ITV plc), Granada Television Ltd still exists as a subsidiary of ITV plc, and owns all ITV plc’s studios (wholly in Leeds and London, and formerly as a joint venture with BBC Studios & Post Production in Manchester).
The studios produced the bulk of original ITV Studios' programmes, but anyone could hire the studios, meaning the studios are often seen on other channels' programmes.
The London Studios was home to many popular game, chat and comedy entertainment programmes during its lifetime.
- "'This Morning' Is Being Forced Out Of Its Famous South Bank Home". HuffPost. 21 February 2017.
- "Dozens of possible bidders for ITV studios". 16 December 2012.
- "ITV buys its London headquarters for £56 million". Propertymall.com. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "ITV buys London HQ" (Press release). ITV plc. 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 13 June 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- http://www.rawnet.com, Rawnet -. "ITV Studios - UK".