As a venue we like to push boundaries and do the impossible and the brief for Top Gear, Wall of Death was exactly that. The Wall of Death is a stunt that has been tried and tested throughout history but usually by motorbikes and quad bikes.
When the brief came in, we were in the midst of lockdown and our doors closed for many weeks. We were unsure when filming would get the green light but we were determined to push through with planning so we were ready to go when the government guidelines did allow it.
The idea of having an industrial structure within a historical space really enhanced the overall aesthetic of the shoot and the juxtaposition of two different eras gave a sense of fragility.
The Great Hall is 6,456 sq metres of pillar free space with a max ceiling height of 25 metres. Even with the structure in place, there was still ample space to create production breakouts and leave space to support with social distancing requirements.
Overall 22 Artic Trucks delivered over 160 tonnes of equipment to build the impressive structure.
The stunt performed involved driving one of three cars – Maserati Quattroporte 2008, Ford Focus RS 2003 and a Porsche Cayman S 2006 – vertically inside the massive circular wall which was 30 metres in diameter, at speeds of between 40mph and 65mph.
The BBC and Ally Pally team worked hand in hand to ensure the success of the build and stunt itself.
The Top Gear presenters – Chris Harris, Andrew Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness were all taking part in this stunt.
‘Please can you extend our thanks to the whole team at Alexandra Palace who helped us with this shoot. To undertake such an ambitious project as this during lockdown was an incredibly tough challenge and we could not have achieved it without your help and enthusiasm for the project. As a location, Ally Pally ticked all the boxes and provided a beautifully cinematic stage for our Wall of Death structure to sit within, but ultimately it was the flexibility and ‘can do’ attitude of the team there that helped us to get this over the line’
Zac Assemakis | Producer Director | Top Gear
There is always a potential challenge to ensure a build of this magnitude is done successfully whilst ensuring there is no damage done to the fabric of the venues heritage.
Furthermore another set of challenges came with the pandemic, requiring a rigorous health and safety plan was in place to ensure the build and stunt happened in a covid secure environment, respecting the government guidelines. This was managed perfectly by our events team, ensuring that the footfall flow was staggered and that everyone on site was adhering to the guidelines.
Alexandra Palace is run by a charity for the benefit of everyone. It’s loved by many people: as a historic landmark, ice rink, legendary gig venue, exhibition centre, theatre, park with panoramic views and more. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic our income has fallen catastrophically and our survival is at risk. Your support can help: as a charity, every £1 we receive is reinvested back into the organisation and will help us get back on our feet.