Riverside Studios is a production studio, theatre and independent cinema on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith, London, England. It plays host to contemporary and international dramatic and dance performance, film, visual art exhibitions and television production.
In 1933, the Triumph Film Company moved into what is now Riverside Studios, a former industrial warehouse in Crisp Road, London, picturesquely located on the Thames just south of the late Victorian Hammersmith Bridge. Under the ownership of Jack Buchanan, the company produced many well-known films including The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) and Father Brown (1954), starring Alec Guinness. In 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 shaped by architect Michael Reardon from the two main sound stages, and to be used for a mixed programme of live theatre, music, dance and film, and 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, the Riverside was also home to Motley Theatre Design Course, under the directorship of Margaret Harris.
Following repeated financial crises, and the directorship of David Gothard, Riverside pulled in its horns. The Studios' Cinema, with an eclectic repertory programme, became firmly established as a primary revenue stream to keep the Studios open, in addition to Arts Council of Great Britain and local authority funding, and there were fewer home-grown live productions. Studios 1 and 3 were lucratively used once more in the 1990s for broadcasting, including the Chris Evans vehicle TFI Friday. CD:UK was broadcast from Riverside from 2003 until 2006. Recent projects have included the BBC's Mighty Truck of Stuff and Channel 4's T4 and Popworld.
The current Director (2009) is William Burdett-Coutts - also Artistic Director of Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms - who runs the Studios with a youth-orientated agenda. Live performance is now based in Studio 3, and Studio 1 & 2 hired out for external television and video recordings.
In 2013, Riverside Studios is undergoing a major new redevelopment. London Developer, Mount Anvil, working in conjunction with A2 Dominion, are redeveloping Riverside Studios and the adjacent Queen’s Wharf building as part of a combined mixed-use development. Assael Architecture a local and national architectural firm are appointed to design the new build scheme, comprising purpose-built production studios, a cinema, theatre facilities, rehearsal space, a new riverside restaurant and café/bar along with 165 apartments. As part of the redevelopment a new riverside walkway will be created to connect the Thames Path to Hammersmith Bridge.
Selected television productions
- Celebrity Juice
- Fake Reaction
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks
- Robert's Web
- Russell Howard's Good News
- Sweat the Small Stuff
- The Apprentice: You're Fired!
- The Last Leg
- TNT Show
- You Have Been Watching
Selected dramatic productions
- Spectacular by Forced Entertainment (2008)
- 1800 Acres by David Myers starring Cathy Tyson (2008)
- The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh (2009)
- Salvage by Diane Glancy (2009)
- Windmill Baby (winner of the Patrick White Playwrights' Award) by David Milroy and Ningali Lawford (2009)
- The Little Mermaid by Blind Tiger Theatre Company (2013)
Selected dance productions
- Havana Rumba by Toby Gough (2009)
- Dancing on Your Grave by Lea Anderson's The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs (2009)
- Mamootot by Batsheva Dance Company (2008)
- At Swim Two Boys by Earthfall Dance (2012)
Selected comedy shows
- Rhod Gilbert: Work In Progress
- Bill Bailey: Tinselworm
- Ed Byrne: Different Class
- Wil Anderson
- Count Arthur Strong: The Man Behind the Smile
- Russell Howard's Good News & Good News Extra
The cinema screens an eclectic variety of independent and foreign language films. The cinema is also known for its double bill programmes and plays regular host to the London Taiwanese, Italian and Polish Film Festivals amongst others.
Tom Robinson hosts live recording sessions for his BBC Radio 6 Music radio show, show Introducing... in Studio 3.
- Who's Who in the Theatre 17th edition, Gale Publishing (1982) ISBN 0-8103-0235-7