The Logistics of Set Design

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Mark
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The Logistics of Set Design

Post by Mark »

There is a great photo that's popped up online somewhere, of the studio set up for an episode of "Are You Being Served", it shows Rumbold's Office set being set up in the middle of the dept store set.

It's an interesting example of the use of studio space, even more of a problem when you have an audience taking up so much it.

As I mentioned on the 'Photographs' thread, the comedy show, "My Wife Next Door" highlighted the two living room sets, with the building front set at the back of them, hidden from the audience, so they would have had to watch on the monitors, there was often, a 'hidden' set, when space was premium.

The original TARDIS control room set was of a modular design, so that sections could be used if space was limited, console and wall in an episode of "Marco Polo" for instance, a problem even US shows faced on Sit-Coms such as "Frazier", where parts of the coffee shop set (rather than the full set) were also used on some episodes.

So a problem for 60's 'record as live' productions and Sit-Coms, but alleviated for Drama by the time of multiple recording blocks.

The designers often did an amazing job with what space was available.
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ghughesarch
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by ghughesarch »

I think the performers, especially in 'as live' sitcom, did an even more astonishing job of keeping up the pace, given the limits of the set design. I still find it impossible to believe that when Basil ran upstairs from the lobby, he didn't arrive *immediately* at the odd little landing with the reverse up and down stairs platform, and guest bedrooms opening off.
It matters less when there isn't continuity of action from one set to the next, as in AYBS? or similar.

Mark
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Yes, that's true, and a good example, it does look good on "Fawlty Towers", you really do believe he's gone upstairs!

They did have a similar situation on Yorkshire's "Rising Damp", with the stairs leading to Alan and Phillip's room, but in that case it was a raised set as the stairs led directly to the room.

Similar to "Fawlty Towers" was the "Open All Hours" episode, with the trapdoor leading to the Cellar, which was a separate set.

In the "Are You Being Served" episode, "A Change Is As Good As A Rest", the staff get to work in the Toy Dept, which was the usual Dept set re-dressed, the only other set is the Board Room set, a clever use of existing sets.

There's also some "Dad's Army" set photos about, one from the episode "My Brother And I", and shows the Railway Carriage set, built on springs, so the stagehands can shake the set.
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Brian F
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Brian F »

And filmed inserts were shown on monitors to studio audiences in comedy to get the laughs. The only one I went to was an episode of "All Gas & Gaters" which is long enough ago for memories of the set to be a little faded.

Nowadays with "Mrs Brown" you can see most of the set layout when they pull back for the credits/curtain call.

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Scary
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Scary »

Is that odd up and back down again staircase an actual architectural feature that some building have, or was it just so they could show him walking upstairs without having to raise the whole set?

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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Brock »

This Telegraph review of a book by Graham McCann says "it was put there deliberately by the director, who recalled such an absurd device in a real Edinburgh hotel. It also helped to exacerbate the sense of frantic movement".

EDIT: It looks as though the same device was used in the parochial house in Father Ted.

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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

I'm sure that's true, but it must have had something to do with not raising the whole set as Scary mentioned.

To give the appearance of coming up the stairs and then back down to the studio floor, flush with the bedroom sets.
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Brian F
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Brian F »

I wonder if, after the last series of The Big Bamg Theory, the studio will fill in the pit they reportedly dug to get the staircase round the lift with the landing at floor level. That is the stairs went both up and down from the floor.

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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Brian F wrote:I wonder if, after the last series of The Big Bamg Theory, the studio will fill in the pit they reportedly dug to get the staircase round the lift with the landing at floor level. That is the stairs went both up and down from the floor.
Is that what they did?...I hadn't thought about that, the two 'flat' sets on either side would have to be flush with the lift, of course, easy for the 'up' stairs to go nowhere, but the 'down' ones?
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Talking of "Crossroads", ( well I was on the Audio thread) there is a great picture showing the reception area set, and right in the top corner on the wall behind the flat are giant descending letters...OLDE..."The Golden Shot".!
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Watched tonight's episode of "Special Branch", "Exit Of A Diplomat", directed by Voytek.

One set of an Airport surveillance room, featuring a wall of TV sets, it also used the studio wall corner and staircase.

Always interesting to spot examples of that.
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Simon Mclean
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Simon Mclean »

Mark wrote:Talking of "Crossroads", ( well I was on the Audio thread) there is a great picture showing the reception area set, and right in the top corner on the wall behind the flat are giant descending letters...OLDE..."The Golden Shot".!
Brillant! I just went and had a look at said photo, and those letters were the ones by the side of the audience seating in the Bob Monkhouse and Norman Vaughan eras of the show. Which reminds me, there's a picture of Anne Diamond on the ATV News set in the early 80s where the phone on her desk is Bob's Golden Trimphone!

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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Good spot!, wonder if its still languishing in some props store somewhere?
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Another Voytek directed episode of "Special Branch" tonight, with a clever studio scene in it.

Jordan and Inman get into a lift, doors close, they chat, and when the doors open, ground floor with a different wall.

While the doors are closed, a different scenery flat is moved in front of the other and they are on another floor, simple but effective!
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Bob Richardson
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Bob Richardson »

The Radio West set in "Shoestring" used the water tank at Ealing (Television Films Studios) to accommodate a spiral staircase which connected two levels of the set.
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

That's a good one!

Also used to great effect on "Porridge" as the main prison square at the base of the tank, second floor, level with the studio floor, and a third dummy level ( not for actual use).
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Drama Channel showed the full Royal "Good life" special tonight ( have they shown it before?).

Always liked the little presentation of the sets, Bank Manager Office, Good's Kitchen, Margo and Jerry's Living Room and a 'Double Bank' set of the Leadbetter's hallway hidden at the back, due to lack of space, (no Good's Living Room).
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Re: The Logistics of Set design

Post by Mark »

Take a look at these!

Things of beauty.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/empty_set ... on/zfvy382
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ArchiveTvfan43
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Re: The Logistics of Set Design

Post by ArchiveTvfan43 »

Agreed, brilliant sets the BBC had some brilliant set designers and the work that went into them-Especially the doctor who sets is amazing. Though manyof sets and special effects are a bit dated, you can appreciate how much thought went into a productions sets. The planet of evil sets as we all probably know are brilliant.

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Re: The Logistics of Set Design

Post by Mark »

"Doctor Who" was lucky to have "Roger Murray Leach, amazing sets, including "Ark In Space".

Of those set photos presented, I also like the ones for "Hancock's Half Hour" and "Quatermass And The Pit".
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