The BBC’s Lime Grove Studios officially opened on 21 May 1950. The site had started out as film studios, first for Gaumont and later for Gainsborough and then Rank Film Studios, from whom the BBC purchased the complex to fulfil the needs of the fast-expanding television service in the 1950s.
Although it was later overshadowed by the purpose-built Television Centre, it was a much loved creative hub, originating many important programmes and pioneering colour broadcasting.
Broadcasts from Lime Grove began with an opening ceremony performed by Mrs Clement Atlee before Children’s Hour got underway. Ali Muffin and the Four Thieves was the first programme.
The studio was a centre for children’s programmes and originated The Flowerpot Men, Andy Pandy and Captain Pugwash. Other programmes made at Lime Grove over the years included The Grove Family, Doctor Who, Quatermass II, Dixon of Dock Green, Tonight, Nationwide, Newsnight and Panorama.
The facilities became increasingly unfit for purpose and the BBC vacated Lime Grove in 1991 to consolidate television production up the road in Television Centre. The final programme to be broadcast from the studios was an edition of the arts magazine, The Late Show which featured a high-speed journey around the building, and ended with a sequence where presenter Cliff Michelmore ceremonially pulled the plug on the television camera.
The studios were demolished after the BBC moved out and there is now a housing estate on the site, but it has been marked by a BBC History blue plaque.
In 2011 the BBC recreated the heyday of Lime Grove with the drama The Hour, which featured a groundbreaking 1950s current affairs programme like Tonight.