STOP PRESS — A REPRIEVE FOR TWICKENHAM?
Since writing the piece below, I had dinner with Hollywood producer Cathy Malatesta and the UK entrepreneur Martin Banbury. Our main topic of conversation was Twickenham Studios.
Martin is interested in buying the place. We told him what a smashing little studio it is and what a gold
mine it could be if properly run. We told him about its history and about its popularity with film makers
because of its closeness to London — and Martin took it all on board.
So cross fingers. Ealing was saved in the 1990s. Why shouldn’t Twickers be saved too ?
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So Twickenham Film Studios is to close.
This famous little studio will be sadly missed by all who worked there.
For almost 100 years “Twickers” was a pillar of our industry.
Home to countless British movies, including the Beatles films Help! and A Hard Day’s Night and more recently The Iron Lady, this bustling and friendly place holds many memories for me.
It was here that I made all of the Philip Marlowe films, the very first series of TV movies ever made for an American cable network.
It was here that Evening Standard film critic Alexander Walker and I interviewed Richard Lester (director of the Beatles films) along with Walter Shenson (American producer of the Peter Sellers movie The Mouse That Roared as well as the Beatles films) for our documentary series Moviemen.
It was here that Gerry Humphries, the legendary sound technician, and his assistant Robin O’Donahue, worked all night to fix a major sound problem on my movie Frankenstein so that we could get the film to Los Angeles in time for its premiere. We made it with just hours to spare.
It was here that my assistant Sue Davies (now Jacob) first joined The Wickes Company for a fortnight’s work experience — and stayed for 11 years. Also at Twickenham, Sue did her famous 4-year research marathon that led to our big American miniseries Jack The Ripper starring Sir Michael Caine.
I remember Sir John Gielgud being greeted in the canteen by that other knight of the theatre Sir Ralph Richardson with a loud “Ah, there you are, dear boy. Couldn’t see you under all that make up!”
I remember re-voicing one of the actors for The New Professionals in the ADR theatre and hearing the voice man say “What sort of accent is this actor supposed to have? He sounds like a Devonshire Brummie from Scotland on Thames.”
I remember being caught at the traffic lights every morning for a whole week, right behind John Cleese’s car, as we both arrived at 6 o’clock sharp and went our separate ways. I think John was working on A Fish Called Wanda.
And I’ll never forget queuing at the chippie across the street with famous faces to get some inner fuel for long night-shoots ahead.
RIP, dear old Twickers. Sic transit gloria mundi.