Designer: John Clements


A production designer on how to design for production

A design blueprint
‘Women in Love’ – ITALY. The Restaurant


Designing scenery for television is a varied and sometimes exacting business. At least it is if the designer is to play a fundamental part in the production as a pictorial story teller. It is different from designing for the stage or the films because of the wide variety of programmes and the intricate, mass-production aspect of television.

Generally the work falls into three categories.

  1. The realistic or documentary programme. This needs a keen and accurate sense of observation by the designer.
  2. The partly imaginative, partly realistic programme. This demands scenery and pictures of a convincing character or of a certain style. The scenic designer must have a wide knowledge of historic ornaments and decorations besides contemporary decorations and construction.
  3. The decorative, free-style scenic design and ornamental backgrounds for light entertainment.

The scenic designer’s task is not merely to erect something which is just impressive or pretty, sordid or delapidated. Nor is it just to construct simply a background at which the cameras can be directed.

His aim should be to plan a layout with a director and to know how the cameras are to be used on a setting. The designer must try to visualize the programme as it will appear on the screen.

He must have the enthusiastic co-operation of the lighting engineer and should know exactly where the areas of light and shade will fall. It is not enough to know whether the production is to be played in night or daytime.

So the designer is really one of a team. Together with other technicians, lighting engineers, cameramen, scenic builders and artists, graphic and costume designers, and the property buyers, he makes an important contribution to most television productions.

His aim, in short, is to present a series of planned, informative pictures making sure that they have an air of continuity to the viewers.


Sketch for The Camel's Back
The Camel’s Back
Backcloth for the Jubilee Show
Backcloth for the Jubilee Show
Backcloth for the Jubilee Show
Backcloth for the Jubilee Show

About the author

John Clements was a production designer whose credits included Murder Bag, No Hiding Place, The Informer, The Gamblers and Upstairs, Downstairs

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