Hammersmith (Circle/Hammersmith & City)
|Type||Fringe Theatre, Cinema, Television Studio|
|Production||Mies Julie, Celebrity Juice, The Apprentice: You're Fired!, The York Realist, The Last Leg, Zambezi Express|
|Opened||1933 as Riverside Film Studio|
|Closed||2014 for redevelopment|
Riverside Studios is an arts centre on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith, London, England, that has played host to contemporary performance, film, visual art exhibitions and television production. In September 2014 the venue closed for redevelopment. It is scheduled to reopen in early 2019.
In 1933 a former industrial building in Crisp Road, London, was bought by Triumph Films and converted into a relatively compact film studio complex with two stages and a dubbing theatre. In 1935 the studios were taken over by Julius Hagen (then owner of Twickenham Studios) with the idea of using Riverside as an overflow for making quota quickies. However, by 1937 his company had gone into liquidation. Between 1937 and 1946, the studios were owned by Jack Buchanan and produced such films as We'll Meet Again (1943) with Vera Lynn and The Seventh Veil (1945) with James Mason. In 1946 the studios were acquired by Alliance Film Studios (then owners of Twickenham Studios and Southall Studios) and produced films including They Made Me a Fugitive (1948) with Trevor Howard, The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) with Alistair Sim and Margaret Rutherford and Father Brown (1954) with Alec Guinness.
In 1954, the studio was acquired by the British Broadcasting Corporation for its television service. Renamed The BBC Riverside Television Studios, the building was officially opened on 29 March 1957 by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Series 2 to 6 of Hancock's Half Hour (1957-60) were made there, along with other comedy, drama and music programmes, including the science-fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59), Dixon of Dock Green, Six-Five Special, Z-Cars, Top of the Pops, the children's programmes Blue Peter and Play School. Episodes of Doctor Who were made at Riverside between 1964 and 1968 and Studio 1 was where First Doctor William Hartnell's regeneration scene was filmed. The facility remained in regular use until the BBC left in 1975.
In 1974, a charitable trust formed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council took control of the building, and two large multi-purpose spaces designed by Michael Reardon were created from the Studio's two main sound stages. During the building's conversion in 1974-75, an amateur West London music group called The Strand illicitly used one of the sound stages for several months to rehearse. They went on to become The Sex Pistols.
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 and Robert Lindsay (1979), Measure for Measure with Helen Mirren (1979) and Julius Caesar with Phil Daniels, Lindsay Duncan and Anthony Head. Gill also afforded free rehearsal space to companies such as the Black Theatre Co-operative (now nitroBEAT).
During the 1980s, under the leadership of David Gothard, Riverside hosted a huge variety of international productions - including, notably, the work of Polish theatre maestro Tadeusz Kantor, as well as the highly successful Dance Umbrella seasons featuring the work of Rosemary Butcher, Rambert Dance Company and Michael Clark. Subsequently, as Riverside's choreographer in residence, a young Michael Clark made 16 original pieces at the Studios before establishing his own dance company in 1984. Under the direction of Milena Kalinovska, an influential gallery also flourished, exhibiting work by Howard Hodgkin (Prints, 1978),David Hockney (Paintings and Drawings for Parade, 1981),Antony Gormley (New Sculpture, 1984), Louise Bourgeois (Recent Work, 1990) and Yoko Ono (In Facing, 1990) among others. In May 1980 Samuel Beckett directed the San Quentin Theatre Workshop's rehearsals of his play Endgame at Riverside, returning four years later to direct the same company in Waiting for Godot. The Riverside Studios Cinema was opened on 2 November 1987 by actress Vanessa Redgrave.
William Burdett-Coutts (also Artistic Director of Assembly) was appointed Artistic Director of Riverside Studios in 1993. While Riverside continued its multi-arts programming (hosting companies such as Complicite, The Wooster Group and Howard Barker's The Wrestling School), its 200-seat cinema was celebrated for its double bill programmes and the variety of international film festivals which took place annually. In 1996, television production returned to Riverside when TFI Friday with Chris Evans took up residence in Studio 1 (until 2000). CD:UK was broadcast from Riverside between 2003 and 2006, while later TV projects included Channel 4's T4 (2006-2009) and Popworld, BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks and The Last Leg and ITV's Celebrity Juice (2008-2014).
In September 2014, Riverside closed for redevelopment.
London developer Mount Anvil, working in conjunction with A2 Dominion, redeveloped the old Riverside Studios and the adjacent Queen's Wharf building. Assael Architecture, were employed to design a new building arrangement on the site centred around 165 residential flats, with new studio facilities for theatre and television, two cinemas, a riverside restaurant and café/bar. For the first time Riverside Studios has its own community and rehearsal space and a local events and entertainment area. As part of the redevelopment, a new riverside walkway connects to the Thames Path alongside the late Victorian Hammersmith Bridge.
During the redevelopment, Riverside continued to produce shows including Nirbhaya by Yael Farber at a number of international venues including Southbank Centre and Lynn Redgrave Theatre (2015), Raz, a new play by Jim Cartwright at Trafalgar Studios (2016) and A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow at the Arts Theatre (2016-17). Riverside's digital production team have also recorded a number of theatre and dance productions for broadcast including Land of Our Fathers by Chris Urch,Northern Ballet's adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Out of Joint's production of The Winters Tale.
A blue plaque produced by the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group and commemorating Riverside's history was installed at the venue's main entrance in March 2018.
The new Riverside Studios is due to open to the public in early 2019.