RTÉ Television Centre
|RTÉ Television Centre|
The Television Centre building on the RTÉ campus.
|Address||Donnybrook, Dublin 4|
|Current tenants||RTÉ Television|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Scott Tallon Walker|
|Main contractor||Messrs. E. Stone & Sons Ltd.|
The RTÉ Television Centre is a television studio complex which is owned by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and has been home to Ireland's national public service broadcaster since 1961. It is situated at Donnybrook, Dublin 4. The building houses the main production studios for RTÉ Television, the control rooms for all RTÉ's TV channels, and RTÉ's main newsroom.
When plans for an Irish national television station were developed in the late 1950s attention quickly turned to a suitable location for the new television studios and adjoining offices. By September 1959 a 25-acre area of land on the Stillorgan road in Donnybrook became the favoured site for the new television production centre.
On 3 October 1960 the new Radio Éireann Authority signed a £500,000 contract for the construction of the television centre and offices at the proposed location. A few hours after this the contractors began to move in. The contract was awarded to Messrs. E. Stone & Sons Ltd. from Thorncastle street in Dublin, one of four firms invited to tender. The building when completed in 1962 contained the first purpose-built television studios in Ireland, as existing studios in Belfast had been set up in converted buildings.
At the beginning of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland a bomb damaged the front of the building early on the morning of 5 August 1969. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed responsibility, this being the first bomb that they had ever planted in the Republic of Ireland. The bombing took place during the protest campaign by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association but before the 1969 riots and formation of the Provisional IRA.
The Television Centre, designed by the Scott-Tallon-Walker firm of architects in Dublin, is 30 feet high with the tops of the main studios rising a further 15 feet above the roof line. In all there are eight television studios in the building, four main production studios: 1,2,4,and 5, the news studio: 3, and three presentation studios: 6,7, and 8, as well as a small studio for radio news bulletins.
There were only three studios in the original building completed in 1962, however, since then a number of new studios and sound stages have been added to the existing complex. Studio 1 was originally the largest studio on the complex measuring 4,180 sq ft (388 m2) and can comfortably accommodate an audience of 120. The studio was originally designed for variety shows, dramas and musicals and was the first home to programmes such as The Late Late Show. Studio 2, the second of the original studios, measures 1,980 sq ft (184 m2) and was designed for interviews, panel games and current affairs broadcasts. Studio 3 is the main home to all RTÉ Television news programmes, it is a small studio measuring 728 Sq Ft.
From the early 1970s all the studios were gradually converted to colour operation starting with studio 3, the news studio, and finishing with studio 1 in 1976. In the late 1970s RTÉ's schedule was increasing and expanding, especially with the launch of Ireland's second channel RTÉ 2 in November 1978. There was a growing need for a new larger television studio, as studio 1 was becoming too small for many productions. Studios 4 and 5 were constructed towards the end of the 1970s. Studio 4 measures 6,525 Sq Ft, making it the largest purpose-built television studio in Ireland. From the early 1980s onwards it would be home to the majority of RTÉ's large audience based shows. In 1995 studio 4 was redeveloped to better cater for audiences, and a new permanent seating rostra was built into it that can accommodate audiences of up to 250. Today Studio 4 is one of the busiest studios in the Television Centre, accommodating The Late Late Show, The Saturday Night Show and Prime Time all in one week. Studio 5 was upgraded to High Definition working in May 2012 and is mainly used for HD sports productions which are transmitted on RTÉ Two HD.
As well as the studios the building also houses the control rooms for the various channels, MCR (Master Control Room), technical areas for video playout, edit suites, graphics area, scene dock, dressing rooms, makeup area, a radio news studio and RTÉ's main newsroom.
In an adjoining building there are also two sound stages which are used for dramas, soaps etc such as RTE's flagship soap Fair City, and the award winning drama Love/Hate. The sound stages are named A and B and both measure 5,865 Sq Ft.
In 2009 RTÉ announced its long-term plans for the redevelopment of the entire Donnybrook site including the Television Centre and the Radio Centre. The project envisages the gradual replacement over a 10- to 15-year period of most of the current 1960 and 1970s buildings on the Donnybrook site with a purpose-built modern building complex designed for the digital and high-definition age.
The RTÉ Television Centre has been home to many popular game, chat and comedy entertainment programmes.
- "Work starts on £500,000 TV studios", The Irish Times, 4 October 1960
- Bomb Damages RTÉ TV Studios. RTÉ Archives.
- "Troops vetoed in Irish rioting". Toledo Blade, 5 August 1969.
- "Dublin blast". The Lewiston Daily Sun, 29 December 1969
- "Project 2025". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 2013-12-30.