Wembley Park Studios

Fountain Studios, 2008, from Wikipedia

Dates: 1926 – 2016

Now taken over by a property developer, with plans to demolish the studio in the future. The studio was known as Fountain Studios in the last years of its’ life as a TV broadcast studio.
The studio has a long history (see Chronology below) of both film and TV production.
The studios were the home of The X Factor shows as they closed but have a long list of other projects from blockbusters to commercials, alongside the constant presence of it’s neighbour the Wembley Stadium.

The studio was especially loved by large scale ‘reality TV’ projects such as X Factor because Studios A and B were connected by a huge motorised wall which could be kept open during shooting, making a single cavernous space; the largest single fully-equipped TV studio in the UK.

When the closure was announced, a group of staff and former staff at the studios got together and created the excellent Wembley Park Studios Archive, which is a great example of what can be achieved.

Also known as;

  • Rediffusion Studios, Wembley
  • Lee International Studios, Wembley
  • Limehouse Studios
  • Fountain Studios

Closing News Story

Wonderful documentary, presented by Ray Turner, produced by the Wembley Park Studios Archive


Productions shot at Wembley Park Studios


Feature Film (13)

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
The Princess Bride1987Rob ReinerIMDB Database page about The Princess Bride
Lady Jane1986Trevor NunnIMDB Database page about Lady Jane
The Bride1985Franc RoddamIMDB Database page about The Bride
Brazil1984Terry GilliamIMDB Database page about Brazil
Yentl1983Barbra StreisandIMDB Database page about Yentl
Evil Under The Sun1982Guy HamiltonIMDB Database page about Evil Under The Sun
Shock Treatment1981Jim SharmanIMDB Database page about Shock Treatment
Time Bandits1981Terry Gilliam, Terry JonesIMDB Database page about Time Bandits
Silver Dream Racer1980David WickesIMDB Database page about Silver Dream Racer
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back 1980Irvin KershnerIMDB Database page about Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
The Awakening1980Mike NewellIMDB Database page about The Awakening
The Elephant Man1980David LynchIMDB Database page about The Elephant Man
Quadrophenia1979Franc RoddamIMDB Database page about Quadrophenia

TV Series (11)

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
Cube, The2009 - Adam AdlerIMDB Database page about Cube, The
The X Factor2004 - presentSimon CowellIMDB Database page about The X Factor
Who Wants to be a Millionaire1998 - VariousIMDB Database page about Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Moved to Elstree Studios when Wembley Park Studios could not accommodate an expanded production schedule due to commitments to Warner Bros who had studio time booked for filming Friends.
Friends1994 - 2004VariousIMDB Database page about Friends
The London episode was shot at Wembley Park Studios
The Fast Show1994 - 2000IMDB Database page about The Fast Show
Talking Telephone Numbers1994 - 1997
Hearts of Gold1990Robin Bextor, Malcolm SmithIMDB Database page about Hearts of Gold
The Storyteller1987Jim HensonIMDB Database page about The Storyteller
The Professionals1977 - 1983Brian ClemensIMDB Database page about The Professionals
Seasons 2 - 5 shot at Lee International Studios (Wembley Park Studios)
Ready Steady Go1963 - 1966Peter Croft, Rollo GambleIMDB Database page about Ready Steady Go
No Hiding Place1959 - 1967IMDB Database page about No Hiding Place

Commercial (1)

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
British Telecom Beattie adverts1987

TV Movie (1)

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
The Corn is Green1979George CukorIMDB Database page about The Corn is Green

TV Special (1)

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
An Arabian Night1960Mark LawtonIMDB Database page about An Arabian Night
First production in Studio 5, 1960

Chronology

1923
The first Wembley Stadium was constructed on the site of Wembley Park Tower.

1924
The site which was to become Wembley Park Studios was originally part of the British Empire Exhibition opened by King George V in April 1924.

1926
After the exhibition closed, the Lucullus Garden Club in the exhibition grounds was converted into a film studio by British Talking Pictures, a company formed to develop the new invention of sound films.

1929
Two stages were destroyed by fire, and were rebuilt to be larger and more modern. The first production made in the new studios was Wedding Rehearsal directed by the young Alexander Korda.

1934
Fox Films (later 20th Century Fox) takes over ownership.

1943
The studios were used by the Army Kinema Corporation during the war years. In 1943, Wembley had its second big fire, which destroyed No.2 Stage (now the site of Studio 4) which at the time was being used for film cutting and dispatch. Like the first fire 14 years earlier, the cause of the outbreak remained a mystery.

1954
The final feature film shot on the site was The Ship That Died Of Shame

1955
January: The studio was taken over by Rediffusion Television. With the scenery from the last feature film still littering the studios, the spaces were converted ready for the start of Independent Television in London in only 9 months. The largest stage (Stage 5) was split into studios 1 & 2 with television control rooms dividing it. More than 20 miles of sound, video and control cables were installed. Studios 1 & 2 were finished by the start of September and two more studios were in service by the end of the year.

1960
June: The newly constructed 14,000 square foot Studio 5 first went on air in June 1960. With space enough to contain a complete circus ring, a dance floor, a full-scale orchestra, and an audience of 500, studio 5 was the scene of many of Rediffusion Television’s major productions. This studio, at the time one of the world’s largest specially built for television, has an unusual design. It can be used in two ways: either as one huge studio with up to eight cameras directed from a single control room, or as two self-contained studios, 5a and 5b. When this happens two massive 25-ton steel doors are lowered at a speed of one foot per minute. The connecting side doors are closed, and each sound-proof section can then be used independently for two quite separate productions.

1968
Rediffusion loses its franchise with ITV and the studio briefly becomes a broadcast base for London Weekend Television (LWT).

1972
LWT left the site, leaving the studios unoccupied for several years.

1977
Lighting and equipment suppliers Lee Electric buys the site, now known as Lee International Film Studios, Wembley. Between 1977 and 1979 Lee Electric completely refurbished and refitted these studios for film and television productions and commercials.

1984
Lee Electric acquired Shepperton Studios (now renamed Lee International Studios, Shepperton).

July 1986
The various companies connected with Lee (Lee Filters, Lee Lighting etc) left the Wembley site, having completing upgrades of the facilities at Shepparton. The studios remained in operation. 

1989
Limehouse Television took over the site. Their parent company Trilion bought the studio on June 9th after their previous base (a warehouse at Canary Wharf) was needed for redevelopment.
They set about demolishing the old film studio buildings, but a promised ‘media village’ was never built and instead their overall parent company (Brent Walker Group) did the same as at Elstree and used the site for retail. It was two years before the retail park was built, and until 1991 the rubble of the film studios remained.
Studios 1-4 were demolished, leaving the huge Studio 5.

December 1992
In the midst of a recession, Trilion went into receivership., taking Limehouse Television with them.

1993
Fountain Studios buys the studio as it expands from previous facilities in New Malden, Surrey, where it was home to successful long-running shows like ‘Ready, Steady Cook’ produced by GMG Endemol. Around six months work was needed to get the studios and control rooms fully operational and up to modern specifications.

1994
After refurbishment, Fountain Studios at Wembley opens its doors with Hearts of Gold featuring Esther Rantzen and Talking Telephone Numbers from Celador.
Studio 5 (now known as Studio A & Studio B), at over 39 × 27 metres within the firelanes, is the largest single fully equipped television studio in Britain, some 30% larger than Studio 1 at BBC Television Centre. An unusual feature of the facility is a soundproof double door which can be lowered in 30 minutes to reconfigure the space into two separate studios, each with their own independent control facilities.

1999
Fountain won the Broadcast Award for Best Studio Facilities.

2000
The new Wembley Stadium had a lower pitch than the old stadium and during construction, the concrete foundations of the Wembley Park Tower were rediscovered.

2006
On 3rd July 2006 it was announced that the owners of Fountain – Medal Entertainment and Media – were selling the studios to a secret purchaser. An announcement was made early in September that the new owners were investment holding firm InvestinMedia. According to a press release they bought the studios for £6.8m.

2016 January
It was confirmed the site had been sold for £16 million to property developer Quintain. 

2017 September
Leased for a period of up to seven years to Wembley Park Theatre Ltd to use as an event space for live events. 

Sources:

Additional Information

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