The most famous British film studios are turning 80 this year. It may be hard to be believe but Pinewood Studios was founded with “a mission to make movies to spread the word of God” by Joseph Rank, a flour mill magnate and devout Methodist churchman, in 1935.
How successful that mission was is doubtful, but what’s for sure is that despite the studios’ unglamorous location in Buckinghamshire, Pinewood has produced some of the most iconic, magical, dramatic film and television scenes in the history of entertainment.
So fasten your seat belt, and take a trip down memory lane.
Womanizer after womanizer turned up in Buckinghamshire. Sean Connery made his debut in Pinewood as James Bond in 1962’s Dr No. Roger Moore followed in 1976’s The Spy Who Loved Me when the studios built a gigantic 5,490sqft stage to house a huge water tank. “Can you swim?”
Since then, the pool has been in good use. 007 attracts the water, as Daniel Craig proved with his own share of underwater dilemma in 2012’s Skyfall.
Not everyone was as lucky as Bond. Even more dramatic, it’s where the Titanic sank! That’s right, Kate let go of Leo in a watertank in Buckinghamshire.
Mr. Clark Kent was always just around the corner turning into Superman in time to rescue damsels in distress (mostly Lois Lane). Remember the helicopter scene in which Superman scoops Lois up as she is free-falling from the rim of a skyscraper?
But the catchphrase of the 1978 Superman preview poster “You’ll believe a man can fly” presented a big issue for Pinewood. Let’s put it this way: producers at that time were not blessed with CGI technology.
So after relentless experiments, a visual effects expert finally had the genius idea of – attention: anti-climax – fixing Christopher Reeve to a pole and projecting a background.
Well done, Pinewood! The audience of the first screening was so impressed they gave a standing ovation at the scene.
The low-budget Carry On films are a staple of British cinema and introduced the national treasure that is Dame Barbara Windsor.
Babs is of course best ¬remembered for the saucy scene in 1969’s Carry On Camping in which her bikini top popped open and went flying. How did Pinewood realize this stunt, you wonder? Well, the team attached a ¬line from a fishing rod to it. On the first take they pulled it so hard Babs was dragged face-first into the mud.
It’s not all about the silver screen though. Let’s not forget Pinewood produces classics and TV highlights, such as Midsomer Murders and The IT Crowd amongst others:
The English soap has put generations through drama on a daily basis, from love affairs to a deadly plane crash, a bus crash, a barn fire and a devastating storm. The plane crash episode in 1983 attracted a record 18 million viewers.
The Voice UK
Watching celebrities pushing buttons has never been more entertaining. The most successful talent to come of the TV show is semi-finalist Becky Hill with her number one single, but let’s face it, the show wouldn’t be as DOPE without Will.i.am.
Mark your diaries and don’t miss Jonathan Ross’s engrossing backstage tour of Pinewood studios where he chats to Barbara Windsor, Joan Collins as well as special effects team and stuntmen.
Catch Pinewood: 80 years of Movie Magic this Saturday at 9pm on BBC2