Though The Brittas Empire was predominately filmed in a studio, Ringwood Health & Leisure Centre in Hampshire - a fully functioning leisure centre - was used for many of the interior and all of the exterior shots. After extensive refurbishments in 2017, the Centre was re-opened with a full reunion of all of the original cast & writers.
Chris Barrie reprised the character of Gordon Brittas, in 2014, seventeen years after the series The Brittas Empire (1991) in 1997, appearing in the music video Word Up! by Little Mix for Sport Relief 2014.
While there appeared to be dozens and dozens of staff members at the Leisure Centre, only the main cast and incidental regular character Patrick are shown on the billboard of staff members there to help the public behind Carole's desk.
Many interior scenes were filmed in Ringwood Health & Leisure Centre, making extensive use of the available facilities. Areas used included the large and small swimming pool, the large multipurpose gym complete with climbing wall, the squash courts and corridor adjacent, the staircase leading to the squash courts, the changing rooms and toilets, the smaller gym with weight-lifting equipment, parts of the café, the smaller function room and various corridors. The only areas of the actual centre we do not see are the Manager's office, staff room and the reception (which was much darker and gloomily lit, had squeaky rubberised flooring and was dominated by a huge metal staircase leading to the Café).
Understandably, the real Centre used for filming did not have a boiler room, exterior gas storage, a petting zoo or an Anderson Shelter! Despite being mentioned in the show, Ringwood Recreation Centre also does not have outdoor Tennis Courts, a Football/Cricket/Rugby pitch or any outdoor facilities. These facilities belong to Ringwood School, which is adjacent to the centre and can be seen prominently in the background to the right of the reception exterior as well as through the window behind Gordon's desk. In exchange for use of the facilities the School pupils use the Centre for many P.E lessons and can regularly be seen in the background of earlier episodes, which were filmed during term time.
The exterior entrance to Whitbury Newtown Leisure Centre was added on to the Ringwood Health & Leisure Centre, presumably for purposes of framing. The real entrance - which was much darker inside- is to the left through the dark glass doors. The fake entrance is built against a wire fence adjacent to Ringwood School's netball courts/playground. In some episodes of the earlier series you can see hoardes of inquisitive schoolchildren peering through the fence watching what is going on.
The famous opening credits of the show, featuring Brittas working out, were not filmed in the leisure centre that doubled for Whitbury Newtown Leisure Centre. At the time of filming the Centre had no weight lifting equipment!
In the series 4 episode 8 "High Noon" we see Whitbury Newtown Leisure Centre explode behind the church. However, looking at the map used to trace Helen's steps after she loses the children 4 episodes earlier in "The Christening", the leisure centre backs onto houses, the Church backs onto the A31 and fields. This is because the map is of Ringwood, where the show was filmed. The route Helen seemingly took would have taken 3 - 4 hours on foot and encompasses an almost impossible route!
In the final episode the staff celebrate the 7th Anniversary of Whitbury Newtown Leisure Centre opening. In the Christmas 1994 episode all of the staff from series 1 (except Angie) are seen celebrating New Years Eve 1989. With this in mind, series 1 must be set in late 1989/early 1990 with the '94 special taking place after episode 1 as it shows the Centre opening and so series 7 must be set in 1996.
Though Chris Barrie was filming The Brittas Empire alongside Red Dwarf, there is only one very subtle crossover reference. Both Brittas & Rimmer spent one day working on The Samaritans switchboard. All the people both characters spoke to killed themselves, and both included one wrong number.
At the time, Tim and Gavin were the first openly same-sex couple to ever appear in a British comedy on the BBC, and in a 2017 interview published online according to the actor who played Tim, Russell Porter, they'd still be together now and married. But they wouldn't have had the reception at the infamous Whitbury Leisure Centre, "too many things could have gone wrong, it would have burnt down or blown up, or something" Russell joked.
Many articles and retrospectives have claimed Tim and Gavin as the first ever depiction of a gay couple in British sitcom. This is untrue, Agony, starring Maureen Lipman prominently featured a gay couple, Rob (Jeremy Bulloch, who famously played Boba Fett in the original Star Wars films) and Michael (played by Peter Denyer of Please Sir! fame). That show ran from 1979 to 1981. However, neither actor was openly gay and the characters are often laughed at, rather than with. Russell Porter, who plays Tim, is openly gay and Tim & Gavin's relationship is shown as arguably (and refreshingly) the most natural in the show.
'Gordon Brittas: Sharing The Dream', a 96 page tie-in paperback book 'written' by Gordon Brittas was released by Boxtree Ltd on 31st October 1994. Featuring the personal philosophy of life of Gordon Brittas, the marketing stated "He's a dedicated man, a man with a dream, a man with drive and ambition, but a man with absolutely no sensitivity whatsoever".
In a 2017 interview with thegayuk, Pippa Haywood (Helen) revealed her most embarrassing moment came during filming series 7, episode 1: "The Elephant's Child". The actor was coming in from the elephant dung scene with elephant dung all over her and being left with a towel in the ladies changing area to shower off the dirt. "I quickly removed my silver suit and then got a bit confused trying to find my way to the showers as there was some dirt on my face and I didn't want it to get into my eyes" she recalled, "Eventually, I found some showers and started to rinse off the dirt but when I turned around, realised that I was under the showers that you use before entering the pool. Anyone in the pool that day caught a glimpse of me starkers, apart from the remains of the dung, showering off in the entrance to the pool!! Luckily there weren't many people swimming that day!"