The Riverside Studios beside Hammersmith Bridge will re-open towards the end of this year. I took a look at progress yesterday afternoon.
Starting from the top, there are 165 flats of which 164 are sold and over fifty occupied. 72% of buyers are from London. That’s what has paid for the lower floors. On the ground floor there will be a foyer, a room looking over the river for private events, a cheap restaurant, an expensive restaurant and three auditoria of varying sizes. It is skewed towards TV with all the stuff needed to transmit live broadcasts – this should pay the bills.
Although I had been going to the old Riverside Studios since the 1980s I had no idea of its TV heritage. The first (five part) series of Dr Who (William Hartnell) was shot here. The Daleks invade trundling under Hammersmith Bridge and up a ramp …
Do you remember Dixon of Dock Green? “Evenin’ all” will be familiar if you do. That was also filmed at the Riverside Studios. The connection with Dr Who is pretty obvious. The low budget Doctor needed a space ship and the blue police ‘phone box had been left behind by Dixon. The first colour transmission on UK TV was made from the Riverside Studios. I saw Hammersmith boy, Alan Rickman in a not very good production of Hamlet in 1992 but after that things went downhill, unless you were a fan of TGIF.
This is the bay where trucks unloading scenery will unload. On the outside wall a metal sculpture has been commissioned of a sound: EXTERMINATE.
Now down to the basement where there are the recording suites (?) for the studios upstairs and other ancillary bits and pieces such as the archive room but crucially there is the cinema and bar. The cinema has been recreated as an exact replica of the old much-loved one with excellent sight-lines and acoustics (I hope). In the old days it was a monthly task to walk over to pick up the printed film programme – no internet then.
Now the Riverside is going to have its spot in the sun again. My visit was under the auspices of The Fulham Society whose members are very chatty (in a good way).
If you have seen Dixon of Dock Green you’d like to have the Who theme, if you haven’t …