Studio 1 Covent Garden

This month our very own Nick shared a piece in blaxland productions monthly newsletter, giving us a little insight into Angell Sound’s transition from Covent Garden to Soho that took place many moons ago. Here he shares a bit of Angell Sound history with us all as he reflects on the various technological developments the industry has undergone over the years. We’re delighted to share it here once again for you all to enjoy!

“Way back in October 1979 I opened the doors to Angell Sound at 49a Floral Street, Covent Garden. We were in the basement of a building that fronted onto Long Acre and was primarily occupied by Hamish Hamilton, the book publishers. To one side of our rather grand, gated entrance was the Royal Opera House box office and to the other their costume dyeing department. Of course the Opera House itself was immediately opposite.

Covent Garden then wasn’t the place it is now. After originally starting as far back as 1656, the fruit and veg market finally moved in 1974 making way for the re-development of the now bustling tourist and shopping piazza, which retains many of the original buildings and opened in 1980. With the re-development of the Royal Opera House, it became an architecturally stunning part of London and an area we saw dramatically evolve until we moved to Soho in 1998.

When we started there was already a buzzing creative community that continued to expand from the time we were there. Ogilvy, WCRS, Leagas Delaney, to name but a few, were Covent Garden locals and just at the other end of Floral Street was where a certain Bartle Bogle Hegarty set up.

How lucky we were to have many of the industry’s creative giants popping in and out to make, what still are regarded as, some of the finest radio ads of all time. As TV production slowly moved from film to video, it wasn’t long before we were also post producing sound to picture by synchronising analogue tape machines to video Umatic machines. How we’ve all moved on!

Nick Angell

As well as creatives, producers, pa’s, account execs all breezing into the studios, there have been an extraordinary array of some of the finest actors this country and, indeed, other countries, have produced. I feel proud to have met and worked with some of the greats from Vincent Price and Christopher Lee, to all the Carry On crew, Sir Michael Gambon, Ian Holm, Myriam Margolyes, Julie Walters, Victoria Wood, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, a very young Hugh Grant and Stephen Fry…actually I could go on, but if you’ve heard their voice, they probably would have been in. These amazing people would frequently light up reception and entertain staff and clients alike whilst waiting to put their dulcet tones to an ad.

I was sorry to finally leave Floral Street, but our lease was running out, plus Covent Garden had become more of a hub to Soho with a number of our clients moving that way. We had to join the Soho fray to remain competitive.

I have so many wonderful memories of our time there, not least of which being when one Friday evening just as I was leaving, I came face to face with an absolutely dazzling Princess Diana, as she emerged from a car at the side of the Opera House. We looked at each other for what seemed like a long time (it was probably one second!) before she slipped round to the stage door and disappeared in. As everybody knows, she was a frequent visitor to the ballet there.

It is incredible to reflect on what was achieved in our basement studios in Covent Garden back in the days of razor blades and quarter inch tape. This is because one thing has never changed and that is the fact that if you have a brilliant idea, irrespective of the tools you have, that idea will ultimately shine through by using the skill, expertise and technical resource you have, and long may that continue”.

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