Lime Grove in the 1960s, as it appeared in archive footage on DOC: Riverside Story

Lime Grove Studios were a collection of inter-connected buildings located on Lime Grove Street in the Shepherd's Bush district of the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. They were the site of much of the studio recording done during the monochromatic era of the original series of Doctor Who.

Site history[]

Lime Grove dates to 1915, when it was built by Gaumont Films. It was originally constructed with glass ceilings above the sets, because the studios used no artificial lighting. This was soon seen as impracticable, however, and the site switched to internal lighting in 1917. It underwent a couple of construction projects in 1927 and 1932-33, but these were the last innovations brought to the site's physical plant.[1]

By the time the BBC bought it in 1949, it was already an ageing property. The BBC initially acquired it as a "stopgap" facility for use only until the new BBC Television Centre could be completed. Nevertheless, it continued to be used well after the opening of Television Centre, to the dismay of producers like Verity Lambert who had accepted the challenge of filming there only on a very temporary basis. The site was closed in 1991 and demolished in 1993 -- outlasting the original run of Doctor Who.[2] Several of Jon Pertwee's links for The Troughton Years video were filmed at Lime Grove in April 1991, three months before the studios were closed.

Relevance to Doctor Who[]

Lime Grove Studios were the predominant studios used to film Doctor Who during the early William Hartnell and most of the Patrick Troughton eras. They were used for principal photography. As such, they would have been a primary workplace of Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill. Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Deborah Watling and Patrick Troughton. They were also the first workplace of John Nathan-Turner on the program, who was a floor assistant on the single episode of The Space Pirates which was shot at Lime Grove.

The studios were notably hated by Verity Lambert,[3][4] both for their size and lack of facilities. One of her principal technical ambitions was to get Doctor Who shifted out of the cramped quarters of Lime Grove. She succeeded in the second season, but only because Sydney Newman himself threatened to stop making Doctor Who unless better facilities could be found.[5] Thus, for all but the last six months of Newman's contract with the BBC, Doctor Who was mostly recorded at Riverside Studios.

Nevertheless, Doctor Who returned to its Lambert-era digs beginning with the last episode of The Moonbase. Like his predecessor, Innes Lloyd was unhappy with the move, as he found Lime Grove even more antiquated than Lambert had.[6] Who continued using the old studios as its main recording facilities until Deborah Watling's last appearance in Fury from the Deep. Nominally, Doctor Who was then permanently moved to Television Centre. However, a number of shows involving Wendy Padbury were at least partially recorded at Lime Grove. Doctor Who finally shod itself of Lime Grove with the first episode of The Space Pirates, the last whole episode shot at the Grove.

Various studios within Lime Grove[]

Studio D[]

Studio D is perhaps the most famous of the Lime Grove studios to Doctor Who enthusiasts. It was the original studio location for the programme and has become famous in descriptions of the filming of the pilot, An Unearthly Child. It is also the subject of many unpleasant memories on the part of the production staff. Its many inefficiencies have been touched on in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine and in DVD extras, for years.

Stories recorded at Studio D[]

First Doctor[]
Used as the principal studio location[]
Used as a lesser studio location[]
Second Doctor[]
Used as the principal studio location[]
Used as a lesser studio location[]

Studio E[]

Studio E may have been used by Doctor Who. If so, it was apparently only used for one day in the history of the program: 13 March 1972. It is unclear what, if any, material was shot. Two sources are in significant conflict over the use of Lime Grove for this serial. One[7] suggests that TC8 was used on 13-14th March, while another[8] suggests that TC8 was abandoned for Lime Grove Studio E on the 13th and TC4 on the 14th.

Stories recorded at Studio E[]

Studio G[]

Studio G was a long, narrow, rectangular space which Verity Lambert was offered by the BBC Planning Department. In the deal, she got Planning to agree that Studio D was unsuitable as the main recording space for the programme. She even got them to rotate Doctor Who to the top of the list of shows to be scheduled at Television Centre. However, if TC was unavailable, she would have to use Lime Grove's Studio G. Lambert continued to argue against this "compromise" because the shape of Studio G was totally wrong for the depiction of science fictional vistas, and allowed for no sense of depth.[3]. In practice Studio G was used only once by Doctor Who.

Stories recorded at Studio G[]

Use of Lime Grove within Doctor Who fiction[]

Lime Grove is implied by the story The Idiot's Lantern, in which the very earliest days of the BBC are featured. Particularly relevant is the clip of Muffin the Mule, which would have been produced at Lime Grove.