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|The London Studios|
|Former names||The South Bank Television Centre|
|Alternative names||The ITV Studios|
London Television Centre
|Elevation||85 m (279 ft)|
|Renovated||Studios closed 30 April 2018, renovation planned for September 2018 when office staff fully vacated to Waterhouse Square, Grays Inn road, with studio facilities moved to Television Centre|
|Demolished||Planned September 2018 onwards|
(Entire site being rebuilt including tower, completion anticipated around 2023)
|Floor area||2.5 acres|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Clarke Nicholls and Marcel, Civil and Structural Engineers|
|Main contractor||Higgs and Hill|
The London Studios (also known as The South Bank Studios, The London Television Centre, ITV Towers and Kent House) in Waterloo, Central London was a television studio complex owned by ITV plc and originally built for London Weekend Television. The studios were located in Central London and were situated on the South Bank next to the IBM Building and the Royal National Theatre. The building was set on 2.5 acres of land and was 24 floors high. The London Studios closed on 30 April 2018.
The facilities were the main studios for ITV, along with a number of production companies including ITV Studios and Shiver based in Kent House tower, while the studios were home to many entertainment, game and daytime shows. These include Good Morning Britain, The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show. The studios were also used for other programmes from various other channels including BBC and Channel 4. ITV Creative which promotes programmes on the ITV network was also based at the London Studios.
The site closed in April 2018 for demolition. Initially, ITV intended to redevelop the site with three smaller studios, but by October 2018 it was announced they would not be returning to the South Bank and the whole site would be redeveloped into premium housing. ITV programmes now come from BBC Studioworks' studios at Television Centre, White City, London.
When LWT succeeded ATV for the London weekend ITV franchise in 1968, it rented Associated-Rediffusion's old studios at Wembley (later known as The Fountain Studios) whilst plans for a new studio complex in central London were 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. The complex was owned by the pension fund of the National Coal Board and leased by the station. It was originally called The South Bank Television Centre (a name that lasted until the early 1990's) and at the time was the most advanced television centre in Europe.
On social media, the building is named 'ITV Towers' since the purchase in January 2013. However, the official name of the building is The London Television Centre (with the studio business branded as 'The London Studios') with that being the logo in reception and around the building.
Kent House is a 24-story tower block, and is home to ITV plc and many production offices including ITV Studios and Shiver Productions. During the 1990s the block was also home to Carlton Television and GMTV. It is seen in the titles of Good Morning Britain and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.
Sandwiched between the tower block and the River Thames is the main studio block, housing studios 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7, the restaurant, the takeaway bar (prior studio cafe), management offices, edit facilities, 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 Liverpool, the 3,000 square feet (280 m2) studio 8 was converted from the riverside end of the first storey.
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, Gabby Logan, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, Ben Elton and Ian McKellen.
Between 1999 and 2017 there have been a total of nine different studios during the complex's lifespan, but by the Studios closure there were six. It should also be noted that there are weather studios producing the ITV national, and some of the network's regional forecasts at ITN's headquarters in Gray's Inn Road.
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 plc 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 non-franchise 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) (now part of Ericsson). The play-out is now run from Ericsson's broadcast centre in Chiswick.
Ericsson now provides network feeds to transmission centres in Leeds (home of the Northern Transmission Centre, which was also originally taken over by TNS as part of the outsourcing deal) and Glasgow (STV).
In 1994, Granada Group 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 requirements, 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, and formerly as a joint venture with BBC Studios & Post Production in Manchester).
The studios produced the bulk of original ITV Studios' programmes, but anyone could hire the studios, meaning the studios are often seen on other channels' programmes.