The London Studios
|The London Studios|
The London Studios seen from Waterloo Bridge in 2013
|Former names||The South Bank Television Centre|
|Alternative names||The ITV Studios
London Televison Centre
|Address||58-72 Upper Ground,
London, Greater London,
|Elevation||85 m (279 ft)|
|Current tenants||ITV, BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, Met Office|
|Floor area||2.5 acres|
|Design and construction|
|Main contractor||Higgs and Hill|
The London Studios (now known as ITV Towers) in Waterloo, Central London is a television studio complex formerly owned by London Weekend Television. The studios are located in Central London and is situated on the South Bank next to The IBM Building and the Royal National Theatre.
Since January 2013, the studio complex has been owned by ITV plc, which bought the freehold for £56 million from the former landlord Coal Pension Properties.2 The building serves as ITV plc's corporate headquarters. The facilities are the main studios for ITV, with some programmes from various other channels including BBC and Channel 4 also using the studios.
The studios are currently home to many entertainment, game and daytime shows. These include Daybreak, The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show. The Met Office weather studios which provide national weather forecasts are also based at The London Studios, as well as ITV Creative who promote programmes on the ITV network.
The building is set on 2.5 acres of land and is 22 floors high.
When LWT succeeded ATV for the London weekend ITV franchise in 1968, it bought Associated-Rediffusion's old studios at Wembley (now known as The Fountain Studios). These studios were originally film studios and dated back from the 1920s. Although successfully converted for TV in the 1950s, the new LWT wanted its own, new, modern studios and so designs were soon 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. 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.
Sandwiched between the tower block and the River Thames is the main studio block, housing studios 1, 2 and 3, the restaurant, the studio cafe, offices, 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 its studio in Liverpool, 3,000 square feet (280 m2) from the first storey on the riverside was converted into studio 8.
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 & Declan Donnelly.
There have been a total of 9 different studios during the complex's lifespan, but currently there are six. It should also be noted that there are weather studios producing the ITV national, and some of the network's regional forecasts (these are now at Gray's Inn Road).
- Studio 1 - 8,350 sq ft (776 m2) - The largest studio on the complex. This studio is 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 has a permanent fixed balcony seating area, which along with movable seating, the studio can accommodate audiences of up to 638. This makes 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 houses 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 can accommodate large audiences of up to 462. The studio can also be used as a bare shell as the audience seating structure can 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 currently houses daily chatshow Loose Women and ITV Breakfast programmes Daybreak and Lorraine. The studio can accommodate audiences of up to 150. The studio also has 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. 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 between the years 1993 and 2010.
- 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 presents 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.
- Studio 8 - 2,958 sq ft (274.8 m2) - This studio is located besides the main complex in the building known as Gabriel’s Wharf. Daytime show This Morning has occupied this studio since the show moved to London from Liverpool in 1996. It has 3 large windows overlooking the Thames which appear 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 is now 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 is 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 more clear compared 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 Television 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 unofficial 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) (owned by Thomson). The play-out is now run from TNS's broadcast centre in Chiswick.
TNS now provides network feeds to transmission centres in Leeds (home of the Northern Transmission Centre, which was also taken over by TNS as part of the deal), Glasgow (STV), Belfast (UTV) and St. Helier (ITV Channel Television - which also receives a feed of ITV Meridian).
In 1994, Granada Television 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 requirement, 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, jointly in Manchester).
Today the studios produce the bulk of original ITV Studios’ programmes, but anyone can hire the studios, meaning the studios are often seen on other channels’ programmes.
- On 28 October 2011, The World's Biggest Bra was hung from the Kent House Tower in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign, this also featured in the live episode of Loose Women.
- On Christmas Eve in 2011, the Text Santa logo and mascots were projected onto the 'Kent House' Tower.
- In 2006, Ant & Dec abseiled down the side of the studios, as part of their Saturday Night Takeaway show.
- In 2013, as part of their Saturday Night Takeaway challenges, Ant & Dec climbed across a flag pole, at the top of the tower, as part of their Saturday Night Takeaway show. They also played golf outside the studios by the South Bank.
The Daybreak weather was formerly presented on the terrace outside the studios.
The London Studios is home to many popular game, chat and comedy entertainment programmes. List of shows, studio used and network below.
- "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. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- The London Studios
- Unofficial History of the London Studios
- Documentary and footage of the building of the London Studios
- The London Studios Twitter Page