Sky Centre

1989 – present

(Revised August 2020)


sky logo


In 1982 Brian Haynes, an ex This Week researcher, set up a company called Satellite Television Ltd (SATV).  He had produced a story on that programme the year before about the future of satellite TV in Europe and realised that nobody was actually doing it.  He rented space on a research satellite and transmitted programmes to cable networks across Europe from Molinare in Soho, Studio 2 being used for live continuity.

Unfortunately he was a bit ahead of the game.  He had problems finding enough content and the cable system in the UK was very small in those days so the sums didn’t add up.  The company was sold for £1 to Rupert Murdoch (for it is he) in 1983 and on 1st January 1984 the channel was renamed ‘Sky.’  It moved its operation to TVI and continued on a relatively small scale for the next five years, gradually building an audience with cable viewers. 

Then when the government gave the green light to BSB to start a five channel ‘official’ British satellite broadcasting system, Mr Murdoch decided he would take this on with a package of his own, based around his Sky channel.  Due to his press connections he had not been permitted to be involved in bidding for the new UK satellite service so decided to do it his way.


Thus on February 5th 1989 ‘Sky Television’ was launched.  Operating from an unglamorous industrial unit in Osterley, just off the A4 in west London, the new enterprise consisted of three channels – the Sky Channel, Sky News and Sky Movies.  (In July 1990 The Sky Channel was renamed Sky One.  It became Sky Max in September 2021.)  Eurosport was also a part of the package and was a joint venture between Sky and the EBU.  However, other channels were also available to viewers via the same dish such as Lifestyle, The Children’s Channel and (perhaps crucially) MTV Europe.


Using existing PAL analogue technology that was cheap and easy to operate, this enterprise stole a march on BSB’s much heralded high-tech system that would use the technically superior D-MAC system, with tiny ‘squarials’ being used to pick up the signal.  Except that the BSB system didn’t work and Sky’s channels, broadcasting from the new Astra 1A satellite did.  One only has to compare the elaborate and some might say pretentious design of BSB’s headquarters (see later in this section) with the very basic warehouse that Sky moved into to get an idea of why Sky were the winners in this battle.  (Interestingly, Sky’s Centre in Osterley now consists of a huge campus of stunning high-tech buildings with beautiful landscaping between them.  How times change.)

I was given a free Astra box when I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner and it was this kind of marketing that saw customers discover the joys of satellite broadcasting, whilst within eight months BSB (which didn’t start transmitting until March 1990) had gone bust.  Sky took over BSB and formed a new company – ‘British Sky Broadcasting’.  The BSB Sports Channel became Sky Sports but the other BSB channels simply ceased to exist.  Sky cut its ties with Eurosport in 1991.

Soon afterwards, all the owners of a squarial were given a free Amstrad Sky dish and receiver so the subscriber base was increased at a stroke.  The distinctive large oval dishes began to spring up on the front of houses up and down the land.


Sky lost millions week on week for a few years and some thought that Murdoch had made a huge mistake.  Wrong.  The losses dwindled and profits began to gradually build.  Even more huge investment was revealed in October 1998 when the new Sky Digital technology was launched.  For many people this not only provided excellent-quality pictures and sound but the first opportunity to see widescreen pictures.  The system also had the capacity for an almost unlimited number of channels.  (Terrestrial digital TV provided by OnDigital was launched one month later – but with only about 30 available channels and variable reception). 

The new Sky Digital service used the much smaller black mesh dish with which we are all now familiar.  The old ones were much bigger – and white! – so the new design arguably made it more acceptable to ABC1 viewers, thus expanding the subscriber base.  Indeed, the Sky digital service enabled the BBC to launch new channels of its own, knowing that they could be received all over the country even in areas with no terrestrial digital reception.


The Sky Digital service now transmits hundreds of TV and radio channels.  A figure that increases almost by the week.  As well as all the free terrestrial channels it carries an ever increasing number of extra channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, UKTV, Discovery, Disney and dozens of other companies operating specialist channels such as movies, home shopping, history, documentaries, religion, bingo, poker, quizzes and soft porn.


In 2010 Sky purchased the Living Channel and this was rebranded Sky Living in February 2011.  At the same time they launched Sky Atlantic – mostly showing expensive US drama series made for HBO.  Sky themselves make very little for this channel – home grown dramas like Game of Thrones (filmed at Titanic Studios in Belfast) are made by independent production companies.

A small exception to this rule was reality gameshow The Devil’s Dinner Party.  Made by an ITV production team using Sky’s studio crews, the first part of series 1 was recorded at Teddington and the rest of the series in Sky’s brand new studio 4/5 in November 2011.  Some freelancers were also involved – dodgy lighting was courtesy of yours truly.


In fact, almost all the programmes made here at Osterley are for the news and sport channels.  The entertainment channels and Sky Arts mostly transmit purchased programmes made in the US or by independent UK production companies.

As far as I can establish, over the years there have been relatively few entertainment programmes made at Osterley.  However, between April and December 2002 the Channel 4 breakfast show  RI:SE  came from these studios before transferring to Princess Productions’ own studio in Bayswater.  Some editions of the popular Sky 1 show Braniac:Science Abuse were also recorded here.  Saturday morning show Soccer AM is made here and although clearly sport-based it could also be described as an entertainment show.  Kevin Wood has informed me that when Sky began operating in 1989, it made one or two shows here including the morning kids’ programme DJ Kat in studio 1 and a pop show called Hitmix, which was hosted by Terry Christian.

In 2012 Michael Parkinson made a series called Masterclass which was recommissioned a year later.  Also in 2012, there was a rather peculiar quiz show hosted by Ann Widdecombe called  Cleverdicks made for Sky Atlantic.  It must have looked very promising when the original pitch was made.

I can claim to have been involved in one entertainment show made here – Harry Hill’s Tea Time.  Series 1 was recorded in studios 4/5 in 2016 and a second series in 2017.  Also in 2016 I lit a pilot for The Russell Howard Hour in studios 4/5.  The decision was taken that the show needed a bigger studio and for a while it looked as though we might make it in the Sky News studio, which was due to close in 2017.  However, that remained in use after all so the series was made in the newly reopened TC1 at TV Centre.


The channel that consistently raises the company’s profile in the critical world of media and television is Sky News.  This is the main competitor to the BBC in the area of 24-hour news.   Sky has, in the last decade or two, taken over from ITN as the UK’s main alternative news provider.


Arguably, Sky’s most significant technical development was the introduction of high definition broadcasting which was launched in May 2006.  Although some HD channels are available on Freeview and Freesat, the number of HD channels those systems carry are relatively limited.  Sky dominates this field with over 70 available HD channels.

From 2010 stereoscopic 3D was a new technology strongly supported by Sky as a possible new revenue stream.  However, its take-up was disappointing. Instead, the next big thing now is 4K Ultra High Definition.  Since 2016 Sky has offered some programmes in 4K UHD via its Sky Q box.  High Dynamic Range was also made available on some programmes in 2020.


Ownership of Sky


Many people associate Sky with Rupert Murdoch – as described above, it was indeed he who was behind the company’s success in the early years.  However, in 1994 the company was floated on the stock exchange in order to pay off debts.  This left him with only 39% of the shares.  He attempted to regain full control of Sky on two occasions. 

In 2010, Murdoch’s company News Corporation made the first attempt.  However, this was shortly after the News International phone hacking scandal and the resulting controversy forced the company to withdraw its bid in 2011.

In 2013, News Corp divided its operations – the media side of the business became 21st Century Fox.  This company still owned only 39% of Sky.


In December 2016 came the second attempt when 21st Century Fox announced that they had made an offer to buy all the remaining shares in Sky, giving them full control. Ofcom looked into this and expressed concern at the proposed ownership of Sky News by the Murdoch family, giving them increased influence over the UK news agenda and the political process.  However, they did state that a Fox-owned Sky would be fit and proper to hold broadcast licences.

The proposed takeover was highly controversial and created a great deal of protest.  The Competition and Markets Authority said that ‘insulation’ or complete divestment of Sky News would be necessary for the sale to go ahead.  However, many politicians were concerned that as a result, Sky News would become underfunded and might close.  The channel had gained a very high reputation and established itself as essential competition to BBC News.

Then, further complicating the matter, in December 2017 Disney announced that it was acquiring 21st Century Fox, including its assets in Sky.  This seemed to indicate that the Murdoch family would lose its ties with Sky but this was not confirmed.  Rupert’s sons might still have a role to play in the new company.  In any case, the desire by Fox to purchase the whole of Sky was still on the table.


Then in April 2018, US media giant Comcast (owners of NBC and Universal Pictures) put in a much larger bid to purchase the majority of shares in Sky.  A bidding war commenced, which was only resolved at the end of September when an auction took place.  Comcast won the battle and on 26th September 2018 Fox announced that it would sell all of its shares in Sky to Comcast – for £12 billion.  Not a bad profit for Mr Murdoch.  You may recall that in 1983 he bought the company for £1.

Comcast subsequently announced that they planned to de-list Sky and register it as a private limited company.  They could do this as they now own more than 75% of the shares in Sky – the 39% from Fox plus a further 38%.  The reason for this decision is that they can now financially plan for the long term with no short term pressure from other shareholders.


Thus, the reign of Rupert Murdoch at Sky is now over.



‘Sky Studios’


In June 2007 Sky announced that they planned to build a major new ‘green’ facility in Harlequin Avenue, next door to the existing studio buildings.  Originally called the Harlequin Building or HQ1 it was renamed Sky Studios in the summer of 2011.  Innovations included a system to naturally ventilate the building without using conventional air conditioning.  Now that is clever.  I can report that it seems to work perfectly.  They also constructed an 80m tall wind turbine to provide power to the site.  Sky has in any case been carbon neutral since 2006.

The new £233m studio centre was completed in the summer of 2011.  It is clearly visible from the elevated section of the M4 and dominates the local landscape.  The facility covers almost 70,000 sq metres of floor space and includes edit suites, quality control, playout and no less than 8 studios – two of which are divided by a removable wall, thus forming a space of about 5,500 sq ft.


Rather disappointingly, this double studio is not the very large studio that had been rumoured would be included in the development.  (Most typical medium/large TV studios in other centres are about 8,000 sq ft. and about 90ft x 70ft working area.)  These two are unfortunately joined end to end, rather than along one of their long walls creating a very long, narrow space of about 122 by 45 feet wall to wall, which does seriously limit the range of shows that can be made here.  However, it has given Sky the opportunity to make some larger-scale shows than they were able to do previously.  There is room for an audience – although not as large as one might find in the studios at Elstree, Pinewood or TVC. 

One could see the combined studios 4 and 5 being used for panel shows and chat shows but not anything requiring a wide set.  Harry Hill’s Tea Time just about fitted in here and Thronecast was also a regular booking.  Incidentally, studio 4/5 is almost exactly the same size and shape as the old studio G at Lime Grove.  That studio proved to be so difficult to fit shows in that the BBC took over Riverside Studios and many of the shows previously made in G were then made in Riverside studio 1.


The technical fit-out of the Sky Studios building cost £77m.  I can report that the studios are very well designed and a pleasure to work in.  Control rooms are sensibly at ground floor level (unlike those at Pacific Quay or MediaCity) proving that is is possible to do this in a new building despite what some have told me.  The movement of scenery has been well thought out – with four of the studios having doors opening to the outside and the others being accessed by a large internal scenery dock area.  The big double studio has a door at each end – again very well designed.  Disappointingly, each studio has a lobby intruding into its floor area for the doorways – this could have been better thought out as it seriously affects the space available in the smaller studios in particular.  Anyway, I give them 8 out of 10 – which for me is a very high score. 

One curiosity – the studio doors open into the studios rather than outwards.  My understanding has always been that exits from rooms should open in the direction that you would take if there were a fire.  The rules must have changed because these doors open the ‘wrong’ way.



The new studios are being used for the production mostly of sport programming.  However, Sky News moved to a new mezzanine floor studio in the Sky Central building in 2016 and has also taken over studio 6 in the Sky Studios building.  The old studio was planned to close in the summer of 2017 but was retained when the snap election was called and eventually closed in 2018.

The building that used to contain Sky News – ‘Sky 1’ – was extensively reconfigured in 2019.  The old main news studio was divided up and is now a scenery workshop and the jib store.  Studio B has been retained as a stills studio but studio C is now the lighting workshop.  Clearly there are no imminent plans to turn this building into a large TV studio, as were once suggested.


The old studios 6 and 7 (now called F & G) in the building next door (‘Sky 2’) have been retained for the foreseeable future and are used mostly for sport.  Thus five of the original seven small studios have been replaced.  The four small studios (1, 2, 3, 5) in the first Sky building closed in December 2011 and studio 4 in the summer of 2012.  This studio was renamed studio H for its last few months.

Interestingly, in 2020 Sky Production Services began to market studios 4, 5, 8 and F for general hire by production companies so one assumes they are not being used as much as they used to be for Sky’s own programming.



Redevelopment plans that came and went


On 15th December 2011, Sky made an outline planning application indicating that they wished to redevelop almost the entire site, plus the adjacent ex-Harrods warehouse which they owned.  The new ‘Sky Studios’ building would naturally be retained.  Almost all the other buildings were to be be demolished, including the existing Sky News studios, which would be relocated to a new building on the campus.  The plans were very impressive and appeared attractive and well thought out.  The redevelopment was to be phased over a 10 year period and would clearly cost a considerable sum.  Planning permission was granted in April 2012, subject to several conditions.

The intention was to construct a campus consisting of five main zones.  This would be a ‘village’ of similarly shaped buildings and open spaces along with restaurants, cafes and bars for the use of the general public as well as Sky staff.  Most of the site would be accessed on foot within the campus.  Note the intention to enable the general public to wander around at will.  You may not be surprised to learn that this has never happened and Sky currently have some of the tightest security of any studio centre.

Of particular interest was the plan to build one or possibly two large TV studios for entertainment purposes – their size was not disclosed in the planning application but Sky staff members I spoke to were confident that they would bear comparison with some of the largest studios in the country.  These were to be constructed in the first (east) phase.  It looked for a while that we might have expected them to be available around 2015.  In fact, we are still waiting for just one, never mind two large studios to be built.

Phase two contained a very interesting building – the ‘FlexBox’.  This was to be a very large space which could be reconfigured to be used as a film stage, TV studio, concert hall, theatre… the possibilities were almost endless, although in the plans there were eight main configurations ranging from a conventional medium sized TV studio through conference venue to concert hall.  It would be able to seat up to 2,200 or 2,700 standing – which gives an idea of its scale. It was intended to provide a venue for large scale ‘event’ type TV shows which currently have to use film stages or public venues.


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In fact, none of the above happened in the way it was set out in the published plans.  What have been constructed are several well-designed, distinctive, high-tech blocks set in very attractive landscaping.  In my view it looks much better than the original published plans (except of course for the lack of large studios – and the Flexbox was a great idea.)  One building is dedicated to the Sky Academy – an on-site training college.  Hats off to Sky for doing this.  Where is the BBC’s equivalent?  Don’t tell me Evesham – that’s not the same thing at all.

They have also built ‘Sky Central’ – a block containing offices (of course) but also a superb subsidised staff restaurant on the ground floor.  Not only that, but it contains a luxury cinema for the use of staff and their families.  Within the central atrium is a mezzanine upon which is sited Sky News’ new presentation area.  The remotely controlled cameras are suspended from the ceiling rather than on peds – which is something I’ve never seen before.  The pictures from this studio look clean, light and airy and very different from the pictures in the old studio with its colourful red/blue LED set.

The news presenter’s view in the mezzanine studio in Sky Central (Studio 21). Very odd seeing cameras hanging from the ceiling.
image thanks to Niall Paterson and Twitter


I have worked at Sky on several shows as a freelancer and I can report that it is a very pleasant experience indeed.  The studios are superbly equipped and very well supported by dedicated, experienced staff – many previously with the BBC or old ITV companies.  The buildings are beautiful and the grounds with their gardens are a joy to walk around.  There are several places to eat – all top restaurant quality but with heavily subsidised prices.  One really does feel that Sky want to hang on to their staff and have created the nicest environment for work that I have ever encountered in any studio centre.


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Sky News was due to move out of its building on the left side of Grant Way during the summer of 2017.  The intention was that the floor of the old building would be cleared to become a new studio suitable for entertainment shows.  (Its relatively low ceiling and restricted weight loading would however have limited what could be done in there.)  The Russell Howard Hour  was due to be made in that studio in the autumn of 2017 for Sky One.  However, Theresa May called a snap election and Sky News realised that they needed to hang on to the old studio for a while, due to all the extra programming.  (The Russell Howard Hour is in fact made in TC1 at Television Centre.)

So for several months the Sky News studio was kept on, mostly being used for overnight programming.  From early in 2018, studio 6 (with an impressive ‘virtual’ set) and the new mezzanine studio 21 in the Sky Central building took over along with a brand new newsroom in the Sky Studios building.


As for the old Sky News building and the ‘Sky 2’ building next door, the plan as I understand it was, until late in 2018, to demolish both and construct (at last) a building containing the long awaited large entertainment studio.  This was to be around 8,000 sq ft.  Also included would be two smaller studios to replace studios F and G.  However, late in 2018, studio G was refitted for the new Sky Sports Racing channel, which launched in January 2019, using ‘Open Media’ and robotic cameras.  All the shows previously made in G are now being made in studio F.  This makes it extremely unlikely that the building containing these two studios will be redeveloped anytime soon.

The old Sky News building (Sky 1) was reconfigured internally in 2019 and now contains workshops, stores and a set-construction workshop.

So with buildings Sky 1 and Sky 2 now being used for other things, there is sadly no chance of them being demolished and a new TV studio being built on that land.


In December 2019 Sky announced that they would be building a new studio centre in Borehamwood.  This will consist of 13 sound stages to be used for shooting high end TV drama and movies.  One might have expected that at least one of these would be designed with audience handling facilities, enabling its occasional use as a TV studio for major entertainment shows but the plans do not indicate that this is the case.  So, it remains possible that the long awaited TV studio might yet, eventually, be built here at Osterley.

Meanwhile, on the right hand side of Grant Way, buildings Sky 6 and 7 (where studio H was located) have been demolished to create a very smart looking Innovation Centre, which will house engineers and software developers working on new technology across Sky’s various platforms.  It will also house Sky’s ‘Get Into Tech for Young Women’ scheme, which gives school leavers the opportunity to train as a coder.  This is all excellent news – well done to Sky!


In other plans, I gather Sky have purchased the land currently occupied by the rugby club next door and intend to expand onto that area in due course.  I have also been told that they are hoping to bring back into use a long-deserted tube station on the edge of that land.  This will enable their staff and studio audiences to travel easily by public transport rather than driving to the studios – which has to be very good news all round.  The new station will be between Osterley and Boston Manor stations on the Piccadilly Line.



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So – what is there now at Osterley?  Driving down Grant Way – on your left are what remain of the original industrial units that were purchased one by one and converted to use by Sky during the ’90s and ’00s.

The first of these buildings (Sky 1) was the home of Sky News from 2005-2018.  The building contained a very impressive combined newsroom and studio.  When I visited in 2007 I was asked to go to makeup and only just avoided being interviewed on some obscure topic – which left me highly amused and the poor runner who had mistaken me for someone else understandably mortified.  To be fair, I don’t think I was ever in real danger of appearing in front of the cameras.

The main Sky News studio was called studio A (with B, C and D down the corridor).  The room covered some 8,000 sq ft but it was not a studio in the conventional sense.  The set was permanent and the lighting rig fixed.  The main presentation desk did, however, rotate to give a different background to the shots and the LD a serious headache.  There were various other areas, some raised above the floor level, where presenters could carry out links or interviews to ring the changes.


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Above – studio A as it was from 2005 to the autumn of 2017.  The set was then struck and another simpler one was built which was used in November and December whilst the Mezzanine studio (21) was being refurbished.
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the view from the presenter’s chair.


The main set blended into working areas for journalists and technicians and led onto small offices, waiting areas and the technical control rooms.  I suppose the actual open area was about 50 feet square but the grid was relatively low and could not support much weight – betraying its industrial origins.  There were about 10 cameras used for various parts of the set with about 6 in use at any one time.  Almost all were remotely controlled using a Radamec system by one operator (who did a superb job in the circumstances) and this included remotely controlled movement of peds on the floor.  The operator sat at his/her control panel nearby and had a line of site view of the studio floor.  There was also a jib that swung around the set to give some more interesting shots.  The jib did of course have an operator.


Technically, the whole Sky News operation was, and of course still is, extremely impressive – with a control room handling incoming picture sources and sorting them out ready to be selected by the editor and director.  All material was digitised and loaded onto hard drive so it could be edited and played back very simply.  The production control room used a huge virtual monitor stack, with three projectors creating a multiple image of incoming sources onto a back-projected screen.  This could be reconfigured as circumstances and programme requirements changed.  I was pleased to note that the LD and technical director both had grade 1 CRT monitors for quality check when I visited.

As well as Studio A – the main Sky News studio – in this same building were studio D – a small interview/presentation studio and studio C, a 1,000 sq ft studio that was for a few years used for Five News.  Studio B, meanwhile, was not fully equipped and was seldom used.  It was about 40ft x 30 ft and mostly used for ‘virtual’ blue screen presentations on specials such as election or budget programmes.  It opened in time for the 2005 general election.  This is now used as a stills studio.

Sky News now has a studio on the mezzanine floor of the Sky Central building on the right hand side of Grant Way.  This opened in October 2016 and is called studio 21.  It also occupies studio 6 in the Sky Studios building.



The original 1989 warehouse on the right hand side of Grant Way contained several studios.  Studio 1 was until 2011 the Sky Sports News studio and although the presentation area was relatively small, the studio also contained the newsroom that was seen through a gauze behind the presenters.


Studio 2 was the original Sky News studio.  It was about 30ft x 20ft but the newsroom used to be seen through a window behind the presenters which of course made it seem much larger.  The newsroom was itself used for some links, and a large LED screen running along the back wall – known as the ‘news wall’ – was often used with the presenter standing in front of graphics to explain a particular story.  The old newsroom was later converted into another use but the studio itself was used as a sports presentation studio.  When it was the home of Sky News from 1989 until September 2005, this studio only had a handful of tape machines for playback of news reports and was equipped with a mere four incoming sources.  Compared with the facilities in the replacement studio, it is amazing that they achieved so much for so many years.


Studio 3 was about 35ft x 20ft and studio 5  was similar, albeit a few feet shorter at 30ft x 20ft.  They were both used as sports presentation studios.  Remember that back then, Sky had three sports channels that operated for many hours each day, presenting various sports from all round the world.  Often these events were linked in the studio with a presenter and sometimes experts or guests who were interviewed.  This involved a constant setting and striking of sets in all these studios from day to day, which of course all had to be relit.  However, frequently – to save time and cost – the sets were ‘generic’ with removable back-lit panels of graphics or images that were swapped from programme to programme.  These days, each channel is dedicated to a separate sport and most have a permanent presentation set in its own studio, reducing the work involved in turn-arounds.

All the above four studios were closed at the end of 2011.


Studio 4, (briefly renamed studio H in 2012) also one of the original studios, was somewhat larger at about 60ft x 30ft.  I should mention that these dimensions are wall to wall as none of Sky’s studios have firelanes.  Studio 4 had a scene dock door that opened onto a car park.  The studio and car park were regularly used for Saturday morning football show Soccer AM, and had also been the occasional home of Sky One’s entertainment series Braniac: Science Abuse.  The first few series of this show were made at Pinewood but in 2006 it moved here to Sky’s HQ.  This studio closed in 2012.


When Sky Digital began broadcasting using widescreen pictures in 1998, two new studios using this system were created in another building – ‘Sky 2’ – on the left hand side of the road.  These were studio 6 (about 60ft x 50ft) and studio 7 (about 50ft x 40ft).  They were the first at Sky to be converted to HD in 2005 (studio 7) and 2006 (studio 6).  They are mostly used for sport.  However, studio 6 was used for the live drama series Theatre Live! in 2009 and Playhouse: Live in 2010.  Studio 7 became the new home of  Soccer  AM  in summer 2012.  Channel 5’s Football on 5 was made in studio 6.

In 2012 these studios were renamed F and G respectively, when the new studios in the Sky Studios block became studios 1 – 8.  Late in 2018, studio G was taken out of service to be refurbed ready for the new Sky Sports Racing Channel.  Studio F took all its shows, including The Pledge, Soccer AM, Football Social and Sunday SupplementFootball on 5 is no longer made at Sky.


For several years before the new ‘Sky Studios’ building opened there was also a Portacabin, parked at the back of one of the units, that was called into use for simple sports programmes when all the other studios were busy.  Only just high enough to fit a small set, it presented the LD with a bit of a challenge to say the least!  Technical facilities were provided by an OB truck.




In the Sky Studios building are to be found studio 1 (50ft x 36ft approx), studio 2 (36ft x 30ft approx), studio 3 (36ft x 25ft approx), studio 4 (68ft x 46ft approx), studio  5 (51ft x 46ft approx – combined, these two are 122ft long), studio 6  – (45ft x 30ft approx and home of Sky News), studio 7 (35ft x 30ft approx) and studio 8 (35ft x 32ft approx).

Studios 1 – 8 are all situated on the ground floor but on the first floor is also the Sky Sports News newsroom studio.  I gather this was added as a bit of an afterthought during the fitting out process.  It was later extensively refurbished – opening in August 2014 and now contains a ‘rolling’ team of around 200 journalists, an 18 sq metre video wall, a rotating central desk and 9 different presenting positions covered by Sony radio cams.  Sounds like a bit of a nightmare for the LD. 

As mentioned above, the Sky News newsroom is also in this building along with a small studio 22.  I’m told that as of 2020 the small bulletin studio has moved to being part of the Sky Sports News newsroom.


Early in 2020, construction was taking place on floors 2 and 3 for a new Comcast-owned international news channel to be called NBC Sky World News.  This was apparently intended to rival CNN and BBC World News.  Plans for the launch – initially scheduled for summer 2020 – were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unfortunately, in August 2020 the proposed service was scrapped, reportedly resulting in the layoff of 60 employees.  According to press reports, the studio was ‘unfinished.’


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The retractable audience seating in studio 5.  Quite tight to the grid at the back as can be seen!  When an audience show is being recorded, the seating occupies studio 5 and the set is in studio 4.  The doors dividing the two studios fold back completely, forming one long studio. Incidentally, despite how it appears, this photo is actually in colour!


The whole operation at Sky is extremely impressive.  The original studios were relatively small but had good lighting grids – with fixtures suspended on pantographs rolling on sliding bars.  The new studios have similar grids in the small ones with closely spaced motorised bars in the larger ones.

In the original studios replacement of old kit was constant, year by year, and even the oldest studio was well looked after.  The new studios are truly ‘state of the art’.  Considering the origins of this enterprise, it is good to see that all the studios have received a great deal of capital investment.  They have consistently been well equipped and well designed.

In particular, the staff are clearly dedicated to creating a top quality product.  Many of the senior technicians are ex BBC or came from the old ITV companies and have a strong tradition of maintaining technical excellence.  This has rubbed off onto the younger recruits.  There is certainly no sign of corners being cut when it comes to picture or sound quality.  Which is perhaps ironic, when one considers that it was precisely this that BSB used to claim was their strength over the original Sky TV.