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BBC Elstree refers to one of the many studios collectively known as the Elstree Studios, each of which has a different ownership arrangement. Specifically, it refers to Clarendon Road Studios, which are not located in Elstree, but nearby Borehamwood in Hertfordshire.

Site history Edit

The studios at Clarendon Road were opened in 1914 as the main facility for the Neptune Film Company. It was innovative for its time, being the first film studios to entirely use artificial lighting. It changed hands among several different film production companies, until finally being converted for television work in the 1950s. Both Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Alfred Hitchcock produced their signature 1950s television programmes in the facility.

In 1962, it was sold to Lew Grade, who appropriated it for his Associated Television company in 1962. In 1982, ATV — now known as Central Independent Television — were ordered to find facilities closer to their target audience in the Midlands. The southern studios had to be left behind. The BBC purchased the site in 1984, principally as a venue for their new soap opera, EastEnders. Since then, the site, re-christened "BBC Elstree", has been the home of the soap's famous "Albert Square" location. However, the site's future with the BBC is uncertain, as of 2008, due to EastEnders' upcoming move to Pinewood.[1]

Relevance to Doctor Who Edit

Given a decision by writer John Nathan-Turner to set the thirtieth anniversary special, Dimensions in Time, in the fictional Albert Square, BBC Elstree was logically the main recording venue for that short charity piece. However, JNT had used the Clarendon Road studios during the regular run of the series, as well. The production of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy had to be filmed in the car park of Elstree when the discovery of asbestos in TC2 scuttled the story's studio time.[2]

The indoor studios of BBC Elstree have never been used by Doctor Who, but have been the home of many other BBC productions, such as Top of the Pops, Grange Hill and Holby City.

Footnotes Edit

  1. "Sets too shabby for latest TVs force EastEnders out of town". The Times. 18 February 2008.
  2. Shannon Sullivan's exploration of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

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