fact Granada Studios Tour was (and still is) a genuine TV filming
studio led to a few interesting attractions, where the thinking was
we've got these sets we've used for filming, how can we turn it in
to an attraction.
The one I remember best is the House of Commons, where a set had
been made in 1986 for a political drama called First Among Equals.,
The set turned out to be a good investment as they made money
renting the set out. The chances are if you see any political drama
or satire it was filmed here.
How was this turned into a show for the public then? It started with
everyone being led in, and sitting either on the government side or
the opposition side. Someone dressed as an official would come out
and give a brief intro about the sets origins and to set up the
crowd interaction elements, encouraging people to cheer their own
side and "Rhubarb, Rhubarb" the opposing side. The speaker of the
house would then come out to officially start things. It started out
freestyle, where any visitors could put their hand up and suggest a
government policy, either seriously, or more likely a made up
ridiculous policy, there's a satirical joke there somewhere.
Eventually a couple of plants in the audience would be selected and
start to play out a pre scripted comedy sketch.
I remember enjoying this when young, thanks to the sheer lunacy of
the situation. As part of my research I did find some scripts in an
old guide book, and even as an adult there was some good funny
satire. Sadly the show closed when the park closed to the public at
the end of 1998.
The set was brought by an independent producer when
it was removed from Granada Manchester in 2002. It was still used
for a number of political satires and dramas, most famously the 2011
film The Iron Lady. In 2013 it was sold on e-bay (no that's not a
joke, I found the old listing and took a screen grab you can see by
clicking the picture on the right) due to a lack of space at it's
new home Wimbledon studios it was located at.
I'll be interested to see what happens to the set in the future. It
has always been interesting to think when I see a political drama or
satire set in the House of Commons that it was most probably filmed
in a set that I've sat in.