Dates: 1933 – present
Official website: http://www.riversidestudios.co.uk/
From the Riverside Studios website
1933 – The Triumph Film Company moved into a former industrial warehouse picturesquely located on the Thames just south of the late-Victorian Hammersmith Bridge. Under the ownership of Jack Buchanan, the studio produced many well-known films including The Seventh Veil (1945), still one of the most successful British films ever made in terms of ticket sales, The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) and Father Brown (1954), starring Alec Guinness.
1954 – The studios were acquired by the BBC for its television service. Series 2 to 6 of Hancock’s Half Hour (1957-60) were made at what was now the BBC Riverside Studios, along with other drama and music programmes, including the science-fiction classic Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59), early episodes of the long-running Doctor Who, and the children’s programme Play School. The facility was in continuous use until the early 1970s, the rooftop camera position providing one of the highlights of the annual University Boat Race each Easter Saturday.
In 1975, after the BBC moved out, a charitable trust formed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council took control of the building. Soon afterwards, two large multi-purpose spaces were shaped by architect Michael Reardon from the two main sound stages, to be used for a mixed programme of live theatre, music, dance and film. A functional foyer area with exposed industrial-style trunking and pipework was created as an always-open meeting point at the heart of the building.
In 1976, Peter Gill was appointed Riverside’s first Artistic Director and soon established the Studios as a leading London arts venue with acclaimed productions of The Cherry Orchard with Judy Parfitt, Julie Covington and Michael Elphick (1978), The Changeling with Brian Cox (1979) and Measure for Measure (1980). During the 1980s, the Centre was the venue for the highly successful Dance Umbrella seasons, and hosted a huge variety of productions from across the world including, notably the work of Polish theatre maestro Tadeusz Kantor. An influential gallery area also flourished, under the direction of Greg Hilty. Channel 4’s opening night launch party was held at the Studios in 1982. During the 1980s, Riverside was also home to the Motley Theatre Design Course, under the directorship of Margaret Harris.
Selected Past Productions
- For the Dead, the Dying and the Living (13 January 1981 – ) Schall sings Brecht
In 1993 William Burdett-Coutts took over as Artistic Director at a time of difficulty for the Trust. It was in deficit but also lost its funding from Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 1996, hence the introduction of more commercial work including Top of the Pops and TFI Friday ( a show that made Riverside its home for five years). This sustained the Trust until 2000 when it applied to be accepted on to the Arts Council’s Recovery Programme. The Trust was eventually accepted on to Phase One of the Recovery Programme, a condition of which was to reach agreement with a commercial partner on providing a television recording studio in Studio 1. The new company Riverside TV Studios was formed to run Studio 1 as a TV recording studio on a commercial basis and has been home to such shows as The Apprentice: You’re Fired!, the BAFTA award winning Celebrity Juice, Question Time, Russell Howard’s Good News and The Last Leg.
Links to information about equipment at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith over the years
Thyratron Control Report - Riverside 2 (January 1957)
From Bob Anderson Collection
Riverside Thyratron Electronic Control (May 1958)
From Bob Anderson Collection
LSI: By the Riverside (April 2020)
From Lighting & Sound International