Elstree Studios

From Academic Kids

Historically, the name "Elstree Studios" refers to any of several film studios that were based in the town of Elstree and Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, England. Most of these studios have now closed, and the phrase is now the colloquial name of Elstree Film and Television Studios, a privately-run production facility owned by Hertsmere Borough Council.

Contents

History

The first studio was set up in Borehamwood just before the First World War. Film making took off in the inter-war period and there were several different studios in operation.

Among the big studios here were the British MGM and Associated British later known as Elstree Studios.While MGMmade many glamourous films with stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergmann its most exciting time was in the 70s to the late 80s when films like the first three Star Wars films,Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Indiana Jones were made there.Property developers bought the studios for redevelopment but despite some reduction in size they are still flourishing and producing many films known around the world -quite erroneously- as" Hollywood" productions.A "Save Our Studios' campaign was launched in the 1990s under local Town Councillor and Studio historian Paul Welsh MBE, with the support of many old stars. Hertsmere Borough Council stepped in and bought the remaining studio. It was then given to a private run company to manage the studios.

The BBC also run a studio in the town, called Elstree Television Centre. This is best-known as the home of Eastenders. Top of the Pops & Grange Hill have also been made there. Before the BBC moved in, the site was used by ATV under the direction of Lew Grade. Before ATV the studios were known as National Studios and in the fifties several big series were made there for American television including the Douglas Fairbanks Presents series and the Alfred Hitchcock tv series. As part of the 1981 ITV contract negotiations that led to the creation of Central the studios had to be sold, although Central used the studios for the first few years of its existence until its new Nottingham studios were ready. The Muppet Show and the first series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet were filmed at the studios in its ITV days.

The name

Many newcomers to the town are surprised to discover that, in spite of the word "Elstree" in their names, both of the operational studios are in the Borehamwood part of the town. Indeed, this was true of nearly all of the former studios too. There are a number of reasons for this.

When the studios were being established, Elstree was significantly larger than Borehamwood. It must therefore have seemed sensible for anything that needed the name of the town in its name to be called after Elstree rather than Borehamwood. Nowadays, Borehamwood is the larger, but the old names have stuck. The fact that the parish that contains the town is also called "Elstree" may have had some influence on the choice of name.

When the studios were at their most active, the local railway station was called just "Elstree". (Nowadays, it is called "Elstree and Borehamwood".) The local telephone exchange was also called just "Elstree". Before the advent of subscriber trunk dialling, a person wanting to make a call to a studio would ask the operator for, say, "Elstree 1234". It would therefore be natural for anyone visiting the town to make a film to think that the whole town was called Elstree.

Selected films made at Elstree

List of television programmes made at Elstree Film and Television Studios

External links

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