GB Samuelson We begin with Sir Sydney Samuelson, son of the founder of Southall who sent Bill proofs from an unpublished book on his father’s life. The proofs confirmed that the studios were founded in a converted airplane hangar by film pioneer G.B. Samuelson in 1924.
Alma Taylor Two Little Drummer Boys, starring Alma Taylor, one of Britain’s first silent movie stars, was made at Southall in 1928.
Burnt down studios wreckage of A photograph taken of the burnt down studios now remembered by no one, had a note on the back saying merely 1936.
Just William cast The cast of “Just William” staring out at us from 1948.
In little more than a footnote in John Grierson’s biography, the founder of the British documentary movement, informs us of his attempt to encourage feature film production from his office at Southall. With government assisted loans Grierson’s tenure in the 1950’s saw a sustained period of film production.
Southall didn’t have a house style like the Ealing studios, or deal with big films like Pinewood and Elstree, or Shepperton. Rather the studios made modest productions for the contemporary British market.Viewed today, films like, Dancing with Crime, The Runaway Bus and the Just William series, reveal an English cultural consensus with a rigid social ordering determined by class, sex and race.
Hammer logo screenshot Life with the Lyons was directed and co-written by Val Guest. Except for the exterior views, the entire movie was produced at Southall Studios. Through Amazon Bill had been able to purchase the film on VHS.
Life with the Lyons This 50’s sitcom starred the real-life Lyons family and was based on a popular radio series by Bebe Daniels Lyons, Bob Block and Bill Harding.
Runaway Bus Poster An extract from Frankie Howerd’s autobiography, ‘On the way I Lost It’ (1976).’On the last day of shooting ‘The Runaway Bus’ Val Guest came to me with sadness. A film had to run in those days for 75 minutes to qualify for a West End showing, and he’d discovered this film was only 72 minutes! What shall we do, he asked, as we only have the studio for another half-hour?’‘I noticed there’s a telephone box among the studio props, so I will write a 3 minute monologue and somewhere in the film pretend to phone my old granny! So a script was scribbled out and placed on a music-stand out of camera range and I read the script while on the phone.’
How did the Runaway Bus do?‘The film opened at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, London, to a good press and earned a lot of money!’ .
“Double Exposure” (1954).’Made at Southall Studios, Middlesex’.
The Studios would often use local houses for exteriors and their families as extras. The Gay Dog, 1954, starring Wilfrid Pickles tells the story of Jim Gay’s love of racing greyhounds. Standing directly behind the dog’s head is Jill Trimble who lived in nearby Queens Rd which was used a lot because it had houses on both sides. Jill was recruited as an extra at the going rate of ten shillings.
Jill Clayton and Peter Clayton Jill and her younger brother, Peter, also appeared in the explosion scene at the start of the 1953 sci-fi comedy Child’s Play. Peter Sallis and Christopher Beeny co-starred. Directed by Australian born director, Margaret Thomson, Child’s Play was written by Peter Blackmore who also wrote another Southall film, Time Gentlemen Please, 2 years previously.
Colonel March of the Yard The arrival of a market driven ITV network in 1955, led Southall to produce television series such as “Colonel March of Scotland Yard” with Boris Karloff.
In 2003 Pearl and Dean were celebrating their 50th anniversary and Bill contacted their PR department. They sent over a DVD with vintage cinema ads: Some of the early trailers were produced at Southall and voiced by Arthur Lowe.
“B” thriller Date With Disaster, 1957, starred Shirley Eaton. Shirley went on to play many roles in her film career.
In 1958 Forrest Tucker and Warren Mitchell starred in Southall’s last film, “The Trollenberg Terror (The Crawling Eye)” produced by Monty Berman and Robert S. Baker – the team that went on to make “The Champions”, “Department S” and “Randall and Hopkirk” for ITV.
Another useful resource is the publicity material supplied by the film companies who used the Southall stages. We include this image from a well illustrated thirty two page brochure which accompanied the film Just William’s Luck. Seen here is director Val Guest with the Just William authoress Richmal Crompton. William Graham who played the mischievous William is the centre of the action.Publicity submitted by viewer, David BlakeThanks to Andrew Gatherer who helped us find 21 films
Newspapers too offer a glimpse of life at the Studios. The Middlesex County Times, dated 22/07/1950, reports on the making of The Second Mate.Most of the shooting was done on the Thames and Portsmouth with interior sequences filmed at the Studios. The Second Mate was played by young actor David Hannaford and starred Gordon Harker as his skipper. The director was John Baxter.Newspaper excerpt submitted by George Twyman of the Southall Historical Society.
Guido Coen had a proven track record in British cinema. In the mid 50’s he directed more than a dozen features at Southall. These include: One Jump Ahead, Behind the headlines, There’s Always a Thursday, Date with Disaster & The End of the Line.Guido passed away on October 18th, 2010
 David M Kay David M Kay was born September 25, 1933 and during the mid 50’s made adverts for Pearl and Dean at Southall. This was the free-lance era of the British film industry. David was clapper loader and had to be present before the studios opened each day in order to set up camera equipment.
  David worked on many commercials produced by Pearl and Dean such as Quality Street (in colour), Jaffa oranges and OMO washing powder.
 Get Carter The P & D team consisted of: lighting cameraman / director Danny Ayling, camera operator Dusty Miller. Dusty later went into features then television; Get Carter, Minder. Cameraman Maurice Ford also worked on commercials.Directors included Norman Dunkels and Peter Duffel. Frank Kingston made the special effects. Studio manager Frank Kelly ran the studios.
 J. Walter Thompson After a year David finished at the studios. At the time there were plenty of rival commercial companies starting up to compete for business for the newly formed ITV commercial channel. David was invited to become script-writer for the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Company and continued to have a very active life in Britain’s film industry.