Wood Green Studio


Have a peep around ATV’s London studio in 1958

Cover of the ATV souvenir programme given to audience members in 1958

Wood Green Empire, first built in 1912 as a twice-nightly variety theatre, took on a new lease of life in 1955 when Associated Television converted it into one of the busiest of the television studios.

Since September 1955, thousands of people have stepped through the Empire’s doors to watch some of the most popular A.T.V. programmes presented at Wood Green. “Val Parnell’s Saturday Spectacular,” “Free Speech,” “The Carroll Levis Show,” “Val Parnell’s Startime,” are just a few of the programmes originating from the old Empire.

The Theatre has always had a busy, bustling show-business life. In 1930 it changed over to films, but was converted back to variety in 1936. Then, in January 1955, the Empire was closed as a live Theatre, and taken over by Associated Television in May 1955. On to the empty stage marched an army of carpenters, builders, painters, fitters and electricians. By September, their jobs were completed and the Empire was ready for “Channel 9”, the first programme on the air for Independent Television which was transmitted on September 23rd 1955, from this studio. [This sentence appears to be completely inaccurate in every regard – Ed]

The Theatre still has its bevy of “stage door johnnies,” but now they are in the modern garb of the autograph hunters and fan club leaders.

Construction work inside the studio
The stage of Wood Green Empire has been extended, the stalls seats removed and a brick supported camera runway built up from the back of the Theatre to the stalls as part of the transformation from a Variety Theatre to a T.V. Theatre.
A view down to the stage
The Carpenters, on the vast empty stage at Wood Green discuss the alterations which included building 6,000 square feet of stage reaching through the stalls to the rear of the Theatre.
Construction work on the stage
The new television stage under construction.
A view from the stage to the stalls
The Control Room, housed under the Circle at the Empire, under course of construction, now houses over £80,000 worth [£1.75m in today’s money, allowing for inflation – Ed] of camera equipment.
A view from the stage towards the boxes
A view of the new television studio floor, orchestra pit and Control Room during the reconstruction at Wood Green.
Dancing girls on stage
The cameras at Wood Green move in to capture the dance routine in “Val Parnell’s Saturday Spectacular.”
A camera points at two people in period costume
Joan Regan and Edmund Hockeridge rehearse a scene for “Val Parnell’s Saturday Spectacular.”
A view down into a busy studio scene
An Advertising Programme in the course of rehearsal.
Four people peer at a bank of TV monitors
The hub of the television studios at Wood Green Empire is the complicated Control Room with its rows of viewing panels. The Producer, his Production Assistant and Technicians prepare for the opening shot of a “Saturday Spectacular” programme in the Control Room at Wood Green Empire.

About the author

A theatre programme-style booklet given to audience members attending ATV productions in 1958

3 thoughts on “Wood Green Studio

  1. …isn’t it now the site of a Building Society branch….I have a distant memory of seeing a plaque on a Halifax branch in the eighties…?

  2. A picture there of The Carpenters, though I’m having trouble working out which one is Karen……

Leave a Reply