BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
london

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
London
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near London

Beds Herts Bucks
Berkshire
Essex
Kent
Southern Counties

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

spacer
Elstree studios - the 'home of Star Wars'
May 19, 2005
George Lucas Sound stage

The George Lucas Stage - Elstree Studios

spacer The Star Wars series may be set in a galaxy 'far, far away' but a lot of the filming was actually shot closer to home.

By Jon Burns

Leave your Star Wars comments and memories
spacer
STAR WARS FACTFILE

The beginning scenes of the first Star Wars, and the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith were both filmed at studio 8 at Elstree Studios.

Elstree Studio named one its new sound stages "The George Lucas Stage" in recognition of his work.

Christopher Lee was originally offered the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977). He turned it down and the role eventually went to his good friend Peter Cushing.

Luke Skywalker was originally to be called Luke Skykiller, and Star Wars was nearly The Star Wars.

A stunt double performed the stunts and lightsaber fights for Christopher Lee in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). Lee's face was imposed on the double's body. Lee mentioned that in the last 40 years he has done more sword fights than any other actor, but "not any more."

At 6 feet 5 inches, Christopher Lee is entered into The Guinness Book of World Records as "The Tallest Leading Actor".

MORE FILM:

london's latest releases are here

features and film index here


 

In preparation for the general release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Leicester Square saw the marathon screenings of all six Star Wars films back-to-back.

George LucasFor those fans who took part in the epic sixteen and a half hour intergalactic journey, there was much more than just the films on offer throughout the day.

Legions of Stormtroopers led by Darth Vader, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing the score from a large stage, and writer and director George Lucas, where all in Leicester Square.

In his introduction speech Lucas described London as 'the home of Star Wars'.

But why is there such a strong link between the capital and Star Wars - the biggest cinema phenomena of all time?

Boba FettBBC London's Clark Ainsworth joined 1,300 other fans for the Star Wars Marathon - and met the series' creator too!

Read his account and see pictures of the Episode III Celebration Day>>

Impressed

Episode I A New Hope was shot at Elstree and Borehamwood studios during 1976.

George Lucas was so impressed with the facilities that he returned to shoot the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi.

The majority of filming for the prequels was done in Sydney but the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith were shot at studio 8 at Elstree Studios.

Rick McCallumRick McCallum, producer of Revenge of the Sith told the Borehamwood and Elstree Times: "We could have shot anywhere in the world, but Elstree's our home, even when we're not shooting here, we have a production office there."

Elstree was started in 1914 by Percy Nash and John East, who decided that the location was close to London but far enough away to escape the smog.

Thrived

Despite several owners and a few rough patches, the studio thrived through the 50s, 60s and 70s attracting big name directors including Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson, and of course George Lucas.

With the big names came big investment and a huge 30,000 square foot silent sound stage was built, the largest of its kind in Europe, and the set for Indiana Jones Trilogy amongst others.

In later years the films started to dry up. In 1996 facing financial difficulties and the threat of closure looming, the studio was bought by Hertsmere Borough Council.

The facilities were renovated, and leased to a separate company to run ensuring the continuation of film making at Elstree.

In 2001 the Studio named one its new sound stages "The George Lucas Stage" in recognition of his work.

Props

Paul Harrison works at Elstree Props, as did his Father. He remembers working at Elstree in 1976 as a sixteen year-old during the making of Star Wars.

Paul Harrison"I was born in Borehamwood, and lived in a house that backs on to the studios. My Father, Norman, ran an engineering company called Norank Eng Co Ltd, and he used to make lots of things for the set made from metal - C3PO's arms, bits of R2D2, Luke Skywalker's Light Saber for Return of the Jedi.

"We used to play around the sets, and once dressed up in Chewbacca's suit - They needed it back for a scene, so they had to come and find us!"

From working as a Saturday Boy at the studios with his Father in the 1970s Paul Harrison has now progressed to Manager.

Unique

Then there are the cast members. Londoner, and veteran actor Christopher Lee reprises the role of Count Dooku in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Lee, hails from Belgravia, and as of January 2005, had appeared in 223 films, including two of the Star Wars episodes.

"There's no question about that. The scale of imagination and the scale of production and the impact that it had on the entire world was a first.

"It created an impact in the cinema that was unique. This particular series of film will be a mythic saga on a vast scale." (Starwars.com)

Christopher LeeOne of Star Wars most famous London stars was the late Sir Alec Guinness, who played Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first three films.

Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born in Marylebone to mother Agnes on April 2nd 1914.

Legend

Although Guinness never knew his bank director father he provided schooling for his son until he started out in the workplace.

Guinness spent his wages on trips to the theatre and acting lessons at the Fay Compton School of Acting.

The lessons paid off and Guinness was judged to be a winning pupil by John Gielgud.

In a career spanning more than 60 years his roles ranged from Shakespeare to Ealing comedies.

Alec GuinnessIn 1977 Guinness took on the Star Wars role of Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi that he would carry on with over three movies and six years. and

He shrewdly took a percentage of the fims' profits and made a fortune in royalties.

Although a legend Guinness claimed his best performances were not in his films "I gave my best performances during the war - trying to be an officer and a gentleman."

Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith opens at cinemas on Thursday the 19th of May 2005.

Find Episode III: Revenge of The Sith with our Film Finder: click here.

Are you looking forward to seeing the final instalment of the Star Wars' series? Add your comments and Jedi-related memories below...


add your thoughts here
Your name:
Your message:
Your Comments

Paul Burton
Excellent feature! Find out more on Elstree Film & TV Studios by visiting Elstree Calling, my unofficial website dedicated to the studios: www.freewebs.com/elstreecalling

marrie pearce
i love starwars even though im a girl i have all the episodes and love watching them please could hayden christensen write back to me

marrie pearce
i love starwars it is the best film made

Lawrence
HI! I was there too! I loved McCallum's speech! I tried to shake his hand but the weedy cinema worker hit me!

Alex Forrest
Make an episode 7 where han solo and princess leia have a baby boy and he is the last jedi ever

gareth
last one as good as the first film, dont stop now

John
Very....... interesting

Gary
Thank you George Lucas, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU

Ayelén
tank you George Lucas for make ...:::SW:::...

Barry Thurgood
If it ain't Woody Allen or some bizarre french film with kerazzy symbolism, I'm not interested. The reviewer? Pah!

Sanjeev
Greeting from Bombay to my London freind like to know what is this film "screaming Blue Murder" from Elstree also?

Wood
I thought that the literary style used in the above article was trully outstanding! A fantastic read. Very informative

ABDUL MIAH
FANTASTIC KEEP MAKING MORE FILMS!

Yogi Bear
Looking forward to it even more now I've read your glowing review... are there any pickernic baskets in it?

  spacer  
E-mail BBC London
yourlondon@bbc.co.uk
spacer
  Make this my homepageMake this my Homepage
  LONDON NEWS  
More Violent clashes at carnival finale
More Police stop-and-search code launched
More Rail commuters faced severe delays
  BBC London News
VideoView with Realplayer
 
  BBC London 94.9fm  
  Listen to 94.9fm live! Listen live
Latest Travel and News
Latest travel and news
 
  LONDON HISTORY  
  Local history including Nelson, Greenwich and the famous Crystal Palace  
  AERIAL PHOTOS  
  Tower of LondonClick through amazing shots of London from high up in a helicopter!  
  WALKS  
 

Take a Thames Tour of Rotherhithe including the home of London's whaling and timber trades

  WEATHER  
 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

  VIRTUAL TOURS  
  Over 100 panoramic views of London including Tower Bridge, Docklands and inside Concorde  


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy