Teddington Studios – an obituary

Teddington Studios has an interesting past, beginning with the site acquired in the 1880’s by wealthy stockbroker Henry Chinnery. He was involved in the building of St Albans Church (now the Landmark Arts Centre) and had a keen interest in the ‘cinematograph’. Film-making at the site began on the day that he allowed a group of local film enthusiasts to use his greenhouse at Weir House as a studio during a rainstorm.


Teddington Studios Ltd, 1931

Short comedy films were recorded on the grounds in 1912 and later from 1916-22 Master Films were the first to use an enclosed stage here to record full length feature films. In 1931 the property was sold and was renamed Teddington Film Studios and expanded considerably and the latest equipment was installed on site. In the same year, Warner Brothers who had been looking for a British base took over the site. The 1930’s saw a major rebuilding programme and many films being recorded here along with Errol Flynn’s first screen role.

Just before the end of WWII, a V1 flying bomb hit the studios and destroyed two stages, several buildings and killing three employees. Rebuilding began in 1946 and filming returned, tailoring off in the 1950’s due to lack of distribution abroad and cinema taxes, for a brief time the site was leased to the Hawker Aircraft Company.


Damaged buildings after the V1 hit

Independent commercial television began in the UK in 1955 with companies such as Associated Television (ATV), Granada and ABC Television being allocated transmitting licences. ABC purchased the Teddington site in 1958 and adapted the studios for television production, installing the first video tape recording equipment at a TV studio in Europe and generally making a state-of-the-art location for filming and production of colour TV.

In 1960 The Studios began recording the hugely successful Avengers and at the end of this decade ABC Television merged with the London company Rediffusion to form Thames Television. Over the next two decades produced an immeasurable number of huge TV shows including Bless This House, Minder, Benny Hill, The Morecambe & Wise Show, Man About The House, George And Mildred and Magpie. Teddington Studio recordings during these times helped power colour TV recordings and comedy in the UK, many shows being exported throughout the world. As the Express puts it, “The Birthplace of Comedy”.

Facilities at the studios were used right up to the closing date to record TV shows – many modern popular programmes were created here including Mr Bean, The Office, IT Crowd, Not Going Out, TV Burp and Would I Lie To You?

For more info see this comprehensive Twickenham museum article and TV Studio History for some photos of the studios through its history. See also this great tribute by The Express.


Photos: Razor Television (more here).

On 24th December 2014, Teddington Studios saw its last tenant, Pinewood officially leave – signalling the end of TV recording on this site. Leading up to this date, the studios were stripped of recording equipment, miles of cables leaving only echoes of the talented entertainers that performed for the cameras and audiences there for a hundred years.

As one commenter put it: “Gutted about the closure of Teddington studios, Home of Thames TV, has survived WW2 bomb & Kilroy.” Farewell Teddington Studios, you will be missed but not forgotten.

List of TV shows recorded/produced at Teddington Studios (not comprehensive):

Ace of Wands
After Hours
Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression
And Mother Makes Three
Animal Magic
Armchair Theatre
Avengers, The
Babes In The Wood
Benny Hill Show, The
Beastly Behaviour
Believe Nothing
Bill Brand
Birds of a Feather
Black Books
Bless this House
Bookman, The
Born & Bred
Brack Report, The
Bremner, Bird and Fortune
Brian Conley Show, The
Bring on the Girls
Button Moon
CB TV
Callan
Chalk & Cheese
Chris Moyles Show, The
Coupling
Crezz, The
Cry Wolf
David Nixon Show, The
David Nixon’s Magic Box
Des O’Connor Show, The
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush
Eamonn Andrews Show, The
Earnest Maxin Show
Edward & Mrs Simpson
Father, Dear Father
Feel The Width
Finding Out
Five
For The Love of Aida
Frankie Howerd show, The
Fuzz, The
George & Mildred
Get Some In
Give us a Clue
Goodnight Sweetheart
Green Green Grass, The
Harriet’s Back in Town
Harry Hill’s TV BurpT
Hazell
High Stakes
Hold The Front Page
Hollywood – The Silent Years
Horse in The House
House That Jack Built
How Do They Do That
Inside The Mind of Dave Allen
Is It Legal?
IT Crowd, The
Jenny Lady Randolph Churchill
Juke Box Jury
Keep It in The family
Keith Lemon’s Lemonaid
Kenny Everett Video Show, The
Kilroy
Late Night with Jerry Springer
Life With Cooper
London Belongs to Me
London Night Out
Looks Familiar
Love Thy Neighbour
Love in a Cold Climate
Macbeth
Magpie
Make A Date
Man About the House
Man At The Top
Marked Personal
Men Behaving Badly
Michael Bentines Potty Time
Mind of JG Reader, The
Moody & Pegg
Morcambe & Wise Show
Mr Bean
Must Wear Tights
My Family
My Hero
My Name is Harry Worth
Name That Tune
Napoleon & Love
Never Mind The Quality
Never the Twain
Night Fever
No Job for a Lady
Norman Conquests, The
Not Going Out
Office, The
Opportunity Knocks
Our House
Pauline’s Quirks
Parkinson
Pinky & Perky
Playhouse
Pompidou
Pop Idol
Public Eye
Quick on the Draw
Quincy’s Quest
Rainbow
Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, The
Roberts Robots
Robins Nest
Rock Follies
Rooms
Rory Bremner
Rumpole of the Baily
Seeing & Doing
Sammy Davis Junior Show
Shades of Greene
Shadows
Shelly
Sketch Show, The
Sooty
Spring & Autumn
Starting Out
Steamboat Shuffle
Still Open All Hours
Strike it Lucky
Tails of Mystery & Imagination
Take Your Pick
Tempo
There Goes that Song Again
This is your Life
Today with Des and Mel
Tom O’Connor Show
Tomorrow People, The
Two Ronnies, The
Unfinished Business
Upchat Line, The
Van der Valk
Vault, The
Wednesday at Eight
What’s on Next
White Light
Whodunnit?
Word, The
World at War, The
Would I Lie To You?
You Must Be Joking

.

Like
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
1

Comments

6 thoughts on “Teddington Studios – an obituary

  • 13th January 2015 at 12:16
    Permalink

    Was at the studios just this weekend it was so upsetting to see this TV institution in such a state shame on you richmond council rip Teddington

    Reply
    • 21st January 2015 at 03:23
      Permalink

      Hello John. I like your photos of Teddington. Myself and one or two other broadcast staff (our area of work is Playout and MCR) would love to see the studios as soon as possible, if possible. We understand most of the equipment wil be gone, but nonetheless would love to visit. Do you know who best to contact?

      Regards,

      David

      Reply
  • 13th January 2015 at 14:53
    Permalink

    I had my office there for 2 years – was told to move out in 2012 as they were closing the place down gradually then. End of an era. I like progress and change, but this was one they ought to have kept or independently funded. However, Michael Heseltine and his company were bound to get their way for re-development.

    Reply
  • 16th January 2015 at 12:38
    Permalink

    Thanks for such an interesting potted history.

    Well, I worked at Thames Television for 20 years, and although I was based in its Euston Road studios, I used the facilities at Teddington (including its floating restaurant, the Thomas Moore) on many an occasion. Time moves on, of course, and the memories are good ones – but the truth is that the site is and always was a piecemeal development, and it’s frankly of little architectural merit. I’m sure the new development will be a great improvement.

    Reply
  • 22nd June 2015 at 12:52
    Permalink

    There should have been more creative solutions to simple demolition. The site could have been transformed into a media studies facility used by a students from a number of colleges and unis. The site could have retained the ability to be used as studio facilities. This would have given the studios a solid business plan and sustainability. The value of the land has been placed higher than the value of the activity on it.

    Reply
    • 23rd June 2016 at 21:31
      Permalink

      I know this comment is years old but I had to reply –

      There is no way this would have been anywhere near possible. For a start, the entire site was owned by Haymarket (not Pinewood), who had nothing to do with Television and wanted shot of the site. Quickly, and for profit. Pinewood left the site as a shell taking almost everything of use (equipment) with them.

      The economics of broadcast had shifted significantly, productions attracted to Teddington needed more space. The smaller studios were used during the ‘Freeview boom’ which ended around 2009, leaving all but two of the eight studios on the complex empty ever since, so the space is hardly appropriate for training.

      Third, as the site wasn’t owned by Pinewood – it needed huge investment. Both in terms of the physical aspects of the site (especially the floors), and equipment upgrades (none of the studios were permanently HD), as Pinewood focused on equipping its TV studios in Iver Heath, where it owned the bricks and mortar.

      Long story short – there are plenty of modern facilities in and around London that provide training (Ravensbourne being the prime example) with decent equipment.

      Source – Former engineer.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *