A Farewell to The London Studios

On the shores of the River Thames in London sit scores of world famous buildings, many with incredible histories, and this one in particular on the South Bank is certainly one of them.   So I guess looking at the first few images below this just looks like a regular tower block to the average passer-by, but it is in fact the iconic home of ITV’s The London Studios.

ITV are sadly soon to close this incredible home of television for redevelopment, following in the footsteps of the BBC’s TV Centre at White City, Fountain Studios (former home of The X Factor) and Teddington Studios.

The London Studios is the place where twenty years ago, when it was then known as London Weekend Television (LWT), I was one of four alongside Dan Kidner, Craig Harman and Stuart Biddlecombe, who made it through a pool of eight hundred applicants to join as a camera assistant and to begin my journey in the tv industry.

It was a job where you hit the ground running and learnt very quickly!  My first ever show was An Audience with the Bee Gees which I remember blowing my mind and knew from day one this is what I wanted to do.

I went onto work on iconic productions there such as Blind Date, SMTV Live / CD:UK, Barrymore’s My Kind of Music, Graham Norton, Drop the Dead Donkey, Whose Line is it Anyway….. the list goes on.  Before my time there the studios hosted the likes of Parkinson, Play Your Cards Right, Blankety Blank, Father Ted, On the Buses…..

With the constant closures, the way tv studio shows are made is changing.  What I do know is that it’s incredibly sad to see these historic buildings being sold off.   These studios are proven to be great training grounds for newcomers to learn the trade, so without these places it will be even harder to get into the industry and to maintain standards.

I took one last visit recently to The London Studios and wanted to not only document the studios and control rooms, but also the small details that made the place what it is.

The day I was there saw the last show of Loose Women broadcast in Studio 3 (which has been shot there for getting on twenty years), whilst the other two studios were prepping for the next shows coming in.

In two weeks time the lights will be switched off and the studio doors slid closed for the last time after forty four years of television broadcasting.

I consider myself fortunate to have trained at The London Studios, so many incredible memories and have met truly great people who I am proud to call my friends.

Farewell TLS, you shall be missed.

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COMMENTS

These are amazing, Steve. It’s great to see “behind the scenes” but also very sad. I’m sure the building will be put to good use by Millionaire property owners will visit once a year. Sigh…..

Thanks Kev, yeah it’s sad indeed. Such a historic place having to make way for yet more flats!

Really enjoyed this Steve, I can imagine everyone who has worked there will really appreciate these frames in years to come. Great piece of work!

Thanks mate much appreciated!

Thank you Steve wonderful photos and very happy memories.

Pleasure Roger it was a privilege to have worked there!

Best Studios…Best Crews…Best Days…x

Indeed! Hope you are well mate.

Great shots Steve, beautifully captures, lovely to see the details & a great memory for all that worked there. So pleased you managed to make this happen.

@FatScottie via Twitter

These are amazing Steve. I had the immense pleasure of seeing Takeaway live twice and my kids on SMTV too. The building was just magical and you felt like something special was happy keep the photos coming……great work!

So nice to see all the little details of a place we know and love, and sad that we won’t be seeing these views again. Many happy memories and thanks so much Steve for sharing your work….Fantastic!

Thanks Ian, yes it was sad when I walked away the other day thinking I may not see the place again.

Fantastic nostalgic pics!
Unimaginably sad…..

Thanks Caroline, a sad state of affairs!

Beautiful Steve, captures the real nuts and bolts of some of the most iconic programs in British Tv, Well done.

Great photos, steve, , must have took you some time,,little things there that bring back so many memories,

Many thanks Larry yeah I had a good poke around!

Nice one Steve. Beautiful. Captured the raw spirit of the building where I had so many happy years. Truly is sad to see it go. Thanks for doing this

Pleasure mate, hope to see you around on the circuit soon!

Lovely photos, Steve. Like you, my first job was at LWT (in VTR Editing) so the place is really special to me too. Thanks for taking these great shots and making them available. I’m sure we’ll all still be looking at them in years to come.

Thanks Mark. Yeah it was important to do this as a project so glad it’s been well received.

Fantastic pictures
You really captured something there a side most people never get to see
You really have caught a moment in time for the people who worked there
Thank you

Very evocative photos Steve

Thank you so much for doing this!

Pleasure David glad you like.

Thanks for the photos Steve I really enjoyed them. I worked upstairs, far away from the studios on the 22nd floor in the drama dept, but I always enjoyed going down to the studios whenever I could. Very happy memories at LWT !

Steve Thankyou for taking these pictures. We’ve now lost the main engine room and funfactory that made some of TVs and certainly ITVs greatest shows. I too spent many years working in that amazing building that has come to symbolise television at its best for the past 46 years. Here’s to the wonderful times and memories so many of us have shared. It’s sad that so many of our great tv studios across the country -our tv heritage, has now gone and isn’t being preserved. Let’s hope the New studios when built will be keeping up the standards of the old. But there’s really been something quite magical about “ Our Studios on the Southbank” as the great LWT announcer Peter Lewis used to say.

Excellent collection of pictures the fun factory, so sad that it will silent soon. 🙁

Cheers Peter yes sad times.

Hi Steve,
I think I must have worked on most of the shows you were involved with.
For the closure and redevelopment of this building to have this much effect on so many of us who had the privilege to work on so many iconic shows makes the memories special.
Andy K

Thanks Andy yes great shows and great times.

Wow! I just don’t have any words for these Steve! I freelanced at TLS from 2001 to 2006 and I am so emotional reading this! Thank you so much for writing this blog, I feel like a piece of me will be lost when the studios come down, they were some of the best years of my life!

Thanks Louise that’s very kind of you to say, great memories!

Caroline Hawkins

Great photos Steve. They brought many memories back. Thanks so much. I started out in those studios as a trainee 30 years ago and am still making programmes. It was indeed a great training ground.

Just beautiful Steve. So many precious memories of happy days spent in LWT and TLS Cameras. Thank you so much. X

Thanks Christine my pleasure!

Steve
These are absolutely fabulous images that capture the life of Kent House/South Bank TV Centre/TLS
I started my working life there back in ’76 as an apprentice electrician, leaving 16 years later but I still consider the building “home” (I spent so many hours there, why wouldn’t I!??)
I looked through all the images and they literally bought tears to my eyes.
Thanks so much for putting these up – Book marked to look at again and again – Sniff!

Thanks Neil so pleased these images have been well received, the studios will be greatly missed.

Thanks for these pics Steve, sad days after all these years. I went to see “ The Six O’clock Show “ many years ago. I think I might still have the show on VHS tape somewhere! Have much recollection of “ On The Buses “ as I’m the photographer/ videographer for the official fan club?

Michaela Hennessy-Vass

Steve,
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photos – really evocative images. I met my husband 27 years ago at LWT and spent 20 years there. Big part of our lives & wonderful memories. Feel very sad now but grateful for those photographic memories.

Amazing photos, amazing details, amazing memories. My first real job was as a runner in the studios and the lessons I learnt and the people I met stay with me to this day. So sad to see it go, so lucky to have been a part of it.
Thanks for capturing it all so beautifully.

Thanks Mark yes feel fortunate to have been a part of it.

Steve
Great photos thanks for doing this.
I started as an apprentice electrician in August 1987 and I am now Head of Scenic & Lighting and now have the unfortunate task of managing the decomissioning of this amazing building that means so much to so many people.
Very sad & painful

Pleasure Dave yes very sad to have to do that after all those great years.

Amazing Steve that’s exactly how I want to remember TLS thank you.
Fade to black…

Cheers Tony hope you are well.

A well-captured insight for those of us who really know the fabric of the building, behind the glossy floors and twinkling lights. Funnily enough my first day there as a freelancer was your first day too, with the BeeGees.
The best hands-on learning you could get anywhere, and proud to have spent the majority of my career there, from work experience Cable Basher to Jib Operator and Camera Supervisor.
A facility which will be sorely missed for generations to come, to the financial gain and short-lived greed of only the few ‘guardians’ who happen to be in charge at this fleeting moment in the long history of the country’s entertainment industry.
Long shall we hark back to the era when this country boasted world-beating TV studios, and not just another block of fancy appartments left vacant by foreign investors.

A terrible momment in our time at Kent House
I worked there for 38 years
Its an amazing building and has many stories to tell . Thanks for publishing these anazing photographs

Thanks David how this place is being allowed to close is beyond me. Thanks for the kind words and glad you like the images.

Well done Steve, these pictures hold great memories. I remember taking cameras from LWT at Wembley and installing them at what was then known as Kings Reach before it was opened by the Duke of Kent. It was there throughout my career and now I have retired so it seems has the building. I worked on my very last show there too. Poignant to say the least. The memories will live on with all of us who were lucky enough to spend a large part of our working lives there. Kings Reach, Kent House, LWT, The London Studios, ITV, whatever we called the building was our TV home. Farewell….

Thanks Phil hope all is well with you.

Thank you Steve, Excellent. I was never staff but spent a lot of time working there with the great facilities and fantastic staff. It will be sorely missed but a great collection of pics to remember to it.
Keith Mayes

Pleasure Keith glad the photos have been well received.

A very nice picture set, Steve. Thanks for sharing.
I was shocked and horrified when I learnt last year that The London Studios were to close. I did work experience with the LWT Sound Department nearly 40 years ago… i still remember the shows… “A Fine Romance” (the first time I climbed on to a Fisher Boom), “Russ Abbot’s Madhouse” and “The Six O’Clock Show” amongst them. I went on to work for LWT’s local rivals, Thames Television, where I spent 10 years in the Sound Department at Teddington. I remember hosting a number of the LWT sound department who were taking a narrow boat up the Thames to act as a kind of Crew Room for the ITV Telethon, and they were stopping overnight at Teddington Lock, so we were giving them a tour of our studios (and sharing a jar or two). Before there was a freelance market, ITV companies occasionally “loaned” crew to each other… I went to Norwich on a couple of occasions, and once to the South Bank to work on “Child’s Play” with Michael Aspel.
After redundancy, as a freelancer, I would occasionally be engaged by TLS, or The London Studios, as it became known. I received my only IMBd listing and my only BBC tv on screen credit as Gram Op on Nick Hancock’s original “Room 101” working there. The last time I visited was in January 2017… going for an interview for a job on the Sound Team for ITV Daytime, which I think would have made my career complete. Sadly, I was unsuccessful. It was only a week or so after that when I heard the news that this iconic building and Television Studio complex was going the way of my beloved Teddington Studios.
Kent House, Upper Ground, London SE1 9LT. It’s so sad to see you go. Although I’ve never been staff there, you’ve been a landmark throughout my career. Rest in Peace.

Thank you Kevin, lovely to read about your time there.

Lovely words Steve and even lovelier images of this iconic place. I started my career there as well and for me it will be sadly missed as a centre of excellence for Television Production. Despite it being ITV Studios or TLS, for me it “will always be LWT”. Worked on so many quality programmes over the years with some very talented and creative people. It will always hold a special place in my heart and I owe it a lot.

Thanks Benjy yes I feel very fortunate to have trained there too.

Great shots. The first tv studio I ever visited in 84. Nearly made trainee floor manager then but not quite. Been back many times since then. A special place for me

Well done fantastic pictures

Lovely photos mate. It looks like not a lots changed in the camera store in the last 20 years!

Thanks Craig yeah nothing’s changed!

Congratulations, Steve – you captured the essence of the place that we all loved so much. What a terrible act of cultural vandalism its closure is. An incredible place to work…I never lost the thrill of saying to taxi drivers, “The LWT Studios on the South Bank please…”

Thanks Mark, how they can close such a place is beyond me too. Sad times.

Beautiful pictures. End of an era.

Thanks Simon indeed it is sadly

A bittersweet set of photos if ever I saw one. I went here back in 2003 to see “Time Gentlemen Please” being filmed. A great night. A half hour recording turned into 3 hours of Al Murray improv. I do love the photo of the folders and random videotape stuck out of it. Wonder what’s on it? Good to see they’re working on a new ‘P’ series of QI too!

I worked in this building for ITV Sport (ISN as it was back then) from 1999-2002. 19th floor. Straight out of University. Left and worked for BBC Sport in Television Center from 2003-2011 before they moved to Salford. Kinda sad that the two iconic television centers that I called home for 12 years have both been wiped out. Moved to Arizona in 2011, nothing to show my kids when we come back to visit!

Many happy memories in this collection of photos – I worked there for 37 years, sad to see it close !

Thanks Dave yeah me too!

Steve
From a member of the mid 1980s to 2003 sound department, a huge thank you.
I was trained at LWT and have only the best and fondest of memories in that great building.
To all the friends I worked with, all experts in there field, Bless you.
To all those fine individuals I worked with who are no longer with us, you will always be remembered.
Just about every picture above triggers a memory for me,
Thanks Steve.

Lovely words, thanks Marco

I was scouring the web to see if there will be a webcam of the demolition of the ‘old factory’ and stumbled upon these pictures. What a fantastic walk down memory lane! Thank you for taking them, I will put a link to your pictures on the lwtstaff.co.uk website, so that more of our old colleagues can enjoy your pictures.

Great pictures! I worked in graphics on many chat shows here. You’ve really captured the place!

I worked at the studios from 1977 to 1992 with some great memories. Thank you for sharing these photographs Steve.

Hi Steve,
Really great photographs, you have captured the real atmosphere of our iconic TLS ‘FunFactory’.. so sad to see such a tragic waste of a truly amazing studios and building, but will reflect in your captured memories of all the happy times spent working in our studios there making truly great telly.

Thanks Adrian I couldn’t agree more!

A flood of memories of great people and great times. Thank you Steve

Thanks Tim, great memories indeed!

Looking at these images made me feel quite emotional having worked there for 27yrs….thank you so much for sharing, it was walking down memory lane looking at them xx

Thanks Caroline glad you liked them

Lovely pictures! My first job out of college was at LWT in 1974, the building was quite new and we were still shaking down the installation. One of the first studios to put the galleries at floor level, rather than one flight up an iron staircase, I believe…

Echoing everyone else’s comments. Great memories revived seeing your images. Wardrobe was long ago turned into meeting rooms but you have captured the essence of the building. Now we know the site will never be a studios again it makes your work here doubly important. A great piece of historic evidence. Thank you Steve.

Thanks for the kind words Jacqui I’m glad I persisted in making it happen! 🙂

Thanks for sharing these, Steve. It’s been sixteen years since my last day in the building – up in LNN Transmission – but these bring back a lot of memories, and I’m sad to see the place going the way of the other big studios in town. Nothing is forever, sadly, but the memories and the great television that were made on the South Bank will live on, long after the bulldozers are done.

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