Mayor invests in London as world destination for TV and Film production

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced new investment in London’s film, TV and animation industries to boost jobs, support home grown talent and attract high-end productions to the capital.

This week, a new tax relief came into effect, operating in the UK for TV and animation production. To make the most of this opportunity, the Mayor is expanding the remit of Film London to bring in £200m worth of additional expenditure through TV and animation production and create 1000 industry jobs. He will invest £2m to broaden Film London’s reach, with £750,000 ear-marked to promote the development of these sectors.

Already enjoying tax relief for film, London is now the third busiest city in the world for film-making after LA and New York. Film London, already working to facilitate major motion pictures shot in the capital, generated £770m in investment over the last four years alone and hopes are running high for the agency’s expansion into high-end TV, such as dramas, mini-series, franchise shows, international co-productions and animations.

Film London has been working with the Mayor since 2003 to deliver production opportunities and has the unique skills and expertise to help TV companies – many small businesses – who lack experience working with tax relief or securing inward investment.

What’s more, with additional funding, the Mayor’s agency can now set its sights on new investment opportunities from markets in US, India, China and South America.

The Mayor today visited Ealing Studios - the longest continuing film studio in the UK - and home to the Downton Abbey set, as well as the pioneering ‘performance capture’ special effects studio Imaginarium.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said: “We are at the dawn of a new golden age of TV production in London. We have an unprecedented opportunity to grow this exciting sector to deliver jobs, produce more world class British drama and, above all, make London the city of choice for TV and animation production. It’s time for London to fulfil its potential as the world leader and employer it’s destined to be in this field. Let’s make sure that all future Downtons are filmed on our turf”.

Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC said: “These are certainly exciting times for television production. The BBC is already a huge supporter of talent in the UK, with Sherlock and Silk shortly due to begin shooting in London. The capital is already one of the most TV-friendly cities in the world and we look forward to continuing to play our part in this vital part of the British broadcasting ecology.”

Julian Fellowes, Creator of Downton Abbey for ITV said:  "It is encouraging to feel that the tremendous, worldwide success of British high-end television is at last receiving some recognition and help."

Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish, founders of The Imaginarium said: “For us, basing the Imaginarium in London is crucial. We have set up Europe's leading Performance Capture studio here because of access to the best creative people and the most interesting clients, partners and co-venturers in the field of next generation story-telling. The introduction of tax relief beyond film to animation, games and television is very important to our business, and helps us in setting up our Academy to train young people into the digital future.”

David Parfitt, Chairman of Film London said: "I would like to thank the Mayor for his continued support of Film London and the capital's production industries. We are proud of the return on investment Film London has delivered for the city over the past 10 years, and with these new opportunities in the television, animation and games industries, we can cement London's reputation as the greatest city in the world for all visual arts."

James Spring, CEO Managing Director of Film and Television, Ealing Studios said:  “Ealing Studios are delighted that the government is continuing its support for the creative industries. The extension of the tax credit system for high-end TV has already led to increased activity from foreign productions as well as UK originated television. This, together with the continued and increased support from Film London and the Mayor's office, help make London and Ealing Studios a world class destination for the best producers of film and television.”

Gareth Neame, Executive Producer, Downton Abbey said: "We are fortunate to have one of the most vibrant TV production industries in the world here in the UK and much of that work has traditionally been located in the London area, which also boasts many of our most iconic locations.  Britain is the second biggest exporter of TV content in the world and a tax incentive to boost local production and encourage incoming content is long overdue.  As British producers we welcome this commitment by the government and particularly the Mayor’s increased investment in Film London to expand its remit so we can boost this vital sector of the creative industries.”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission said: "Having worked with the Mayor’s office for the last 10 years to transform the capital into a film friendly city, we now welcome the same task for high-end TV and animation. With the new fiscal incentives, coupled with investment from the Mayor, the capital has the potential to become a world leader for the production industries, retaining and creating valuable jobs and encouraging new investment to boost the economy."

Notes to Editors

Tax Relief

TV & TV animation production

The Chancellor’s new tax arrangements for TV and TV animation came into effect from the 1st April with similar relief for the gaming industry expected at a later date.


Since its introduction in 2007, the film tax relief has seen the film industry grow by 75%. The impact on television is expected to be significant.  During 2010-11 alone the film tax credit provided approximately £150 million of support to London’s film industry.


The jobs and investment figures for TV and animation quoted are based on Film London’s predictions over a three year period (2013-16).

In addition to this year’s budget (£1.3m) to promote London and a world film destination and provide a bespoke facilitating/brokerage service to those planning to film in the capital, the Mayor is investing a further £750,000 through Film London for TV and TV animation.

This additional funding is from the Mayor’s Growing Places Fund (GPF), a fund used to support innovative ways of creating jobs and skills in emerging sectors, and is overseen by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP). Film London will report monthly to the LEP. 

Ealing Studios

At 110 years old, Ealing is the longest continuing film studio in the UK housing some of the highest grossing independent British movies over last decade, including the St Trinian's and Johnny English franchises. The next Bridget Jones's film (Bridget Jones's Baby), currently in development, will be another top hitter for Ealing.

The studio has moved into high end TV dramas such as Downton Abbey (downstairs scenes), and is also home to the pioneering performance capture special effects studio Imaginarium, co-founded by Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Hobbit prequels). 

ITV’s Downton Abbey is filmed between Highclere Castle in Hampshire and Ealing Studios in London. As one of the most successful UK TV series in decades, the show has been exported to over 200 countries around the world and in the US has become the highest-rated PBS drama of all time beating popular shows such as The Good Wife. Downton Abbey Season 3, a Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-production, was seen by 24 million people in the US and the finale was the #1 rated show of the night beating all broadcast and cable competition in prime time. 

Film London

Film London has a proven track record in facilitating production and attracting feature films to the UK. 2012 was the busiest year for feature films since the agency started with filming across the board up over 20% on 2011’s figures.

Key stats from 2012

In 2012 there were 17,604 filming days – making it the busiest year for filming since we started collecting stats in 2003 (so almost certainly the busiest year ever).

Filming volume was up 21% on 2011.

Although the city also hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 was the busiest year ever for feature film (1,778 days) – with a 42% increase on feature filming in 2011.

Feature filming was down on 2011 in August (by 25%) but rather than postpone filming to another year (or take the production elsewhere) productions filmed earlier in the year than usual – for example there was a 50% increase in feature filming in May.


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