HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham’s The Wharf Studios in his role as Royal Patron of The Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB).
First introduced to the work of Barking & Dagenham’s film office at the PGGB Talent Showcase in January 2023, The Duke of Edinburgh met Head of Film Barking & Dagenham, Lisa Dee who believed in the vision of creating a new film and TV sector in the borough, which was formally known for manufacturing cars. It was here that HRH heard about the ongoing endeavours to attract and nurture a new generation of filmmaking talent from a London borough that is home to under-represented communities in the UK’s film and television industry.
Over the last 10 years, the borough has curated its successful film service, ‘Film Barking & Dagenham’ which has provided a one-stop shop for an impressive line-up of high-end productions for the likes of Amazon, Apple +, Disney, Netflix, Sky,
Warner Bros and many more, who have chosen local locations to play host to dozens of global shows. Some of the notable productions that have shot across Barking & Dagenham have included Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange and Black Widow, The Batman for Warner Bros., and Amazon Prime’s Heads of State starring Idris Elba who is from east London.
HRH also had the opportunity to meet local ‘Make It Here’ students learning the lighting and electrical craft, as well as runners and marshals who have worked on high end TV productions and secondary school pupils, plus local training academies who have engaged with Film Barking & Dagenham’s immersive industry-led career days. HRH was also afforded a glimpse into the future of the borough with an update on progress of the Eastbrook Studios development, which will be London’s largest film studio providing 12 new sound stages from spring 2024 in addition to the six sound stages currently on The Wharf Studios’ 10-acre campus.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit to The Wharf Studios. He commented, “Film, as with all of the creative industries, is about imagination, and making it happen. It takes a lot of different people to be able to do that, and that’s what the Guild is trying to encourage – more people who understand that there is a place in this industry for you.”
His late father Prince Philip, the former Duke of Edinburgh, also visited the borough on 11th December 1962 and unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit.
Commenting on the Royal visit, PGGB’s CEO, Lyndsay Duthie said, “We would like to thank The Duke of Edinburgh for his ongoing support of The Production Guild of Great Britain and the work of our members and partners. We are delighted to be able to highlight this important initiative in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. To sustain a healthy and thriving film and television industry in the UK, we need to provide a skilled workforce for the future. The foundation for that future comes alive in places like Barking & Dagenham. PGGB celebrates the work that has been done so far and we are proud to support ongoing initiatives.”
Historically, generations of people in this area of East London and Essex would go to work at Ford Dagenham, now, thanks to regeneration, investment and a commitment to skills and training, The Wharf Studios and the upcoming Eastbrook Studios, developed and operated by The MBS Group and Hackman Capital Partners – are offering long-term career paths in film and television.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “I am absolutely delighted that The Duke of Edinburgh came to visit the Barking Wharf. It will be one of two film studios in Barking & Dagenham with 18 new sound stages, unlocking huge opportunities and bringing in 21st century jobs for a 21st century borough. The Duke’s visit was a really special moment for our community. I’m so proud he witnessed first-hand our transformation, from Ford to film, as we set the stage for East London’s new film industry era. We’re a borough with huge ambition and we’re working tirelessly to ensure our residents benefit from all the opportunities the film industry brings.”
Lisa Dee, Head of Film Barking and Dagenham said: “It was a huge honour to have The Duke of Edinburgh with us to see how Barking and Dagenham has worked to shift the film production dial towards the east of London. It’s an exciting time in film and TV, and as well as developing the studios, we’re nurturing talent right across the borough via our ‘Make it Here’ programme, which will create pathways into screen industry careers, starting at primary school age, through to early-stage careers and professionals with transferrable skills. Our focus is all about empowering our community with the right education, training, skills and access so they can seize every opportunity as we bring the big screen to Barking & Dagenham.”
Darren Smith, CEO Europe & APAC, The MBS Group commented: “We are delighted to welcome The Duke of Edinburgh to The Wharf Studios, to showcase the extent of the investment we are making in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. While our world-class studio facilities, at The Wharf and at Eastbrook Studios, are adding much needed infrastructure to the film and TV production industry, we are equally as proud of the training initiatives we are creating within the local community.“
This Royal visit forms part of the work around PGGB’s annual Talent Showcase, in association with The Walt Disney Studios and supported by Entertainment Partners. The PGGB Talent Showcase highlights best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives and will culminate in The Duke of Edinburgh Film and TV Inclusion Award 2024, which will be presented on 8th February 2023 at The Savoy in London.