Twickenham Film Studios has been saved from the brink.
In February, it looked like the end of an era, when it was announced that the studios had to go into receivership and would close in June, one year before its centenary.
The legendary studios was home to some of the best known films of the 60s, including Alfie, The Italian Job, Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, and The Beatles’ Help and A Hard Day’s Night. More recently it was used by Stephen Spielberg for the filming of War Horse and for the making of The Iron Lady.
At a time when there’s been significant investment in studios, including the MediaCityUK Studios in Salford and the recently relaunched Warner Bros’ Leavesden Studios, it seems right that one of the oldest studios in the country should be getting a reprieve.
More than that, the new owner, Twickenham Studios Ltd, led by property magnate and film buff Sunny Vohra, promises a new lease of life.
"There will be increased employment opportunities at the studios with investment in additional staff to make the studio a hive of creativity and an exceptional place to work," says Vohra, who will be TSL’s new managing director.
It had looked like the studios, which originally opened in 1913, would close in June, after having lost money for the last three years. But a petition to save them was started in March and within one week had over a thousand signatures, including Steven Spielberg, Michael Apted, Terry Jones, Peter Medak, Stephen Daldry, John Landis and Terry Jones.
The petition read, “We have no time to waste! Twickenham Film studios has gone into administration and word has it that property developers are moving in. Please sign our petition to help stop the developers in their tracks!! We don’t need more executive homes! Twickenham has been at the forefront of the British film industry for 99 years – let’s help it make to 100 and beyond.”
As a reward for her passion and mobilisation, Maria Walker, a post-production supervisor and Twickenham resident who led the campaign to save the studios, will take over the job of chief operating officer and will oversee sales, marketing and business development. “There is a lot of goodwill towards the studio and many people want to see Twickenham return to the top, where it should be.
“The industry is changing. We are looking at tapping other revenue streams such as gaming. We are looking to expand the IT department and to bring in technicians, sales and marketing knowledge.”
It looks as though Twickenham will remain as a production force in a dynamic sector where there is clearly still an appetite for investment.