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BBC selling iconic EastEnders set studios as part of £500million savings scramble

The Beeb is selling off the iconic BBC Elstree Centre - which houses the set of the soap EastEnders - as they desperately try to make £500 million per year savings

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EastEnders, Bảng hiệu Quảng trường Albert trên bộ EastEnders, Bị cấm xuất bản cho đến khi: n/a - Hình ảnh hiển thị: Biển hiệu Quảng trường Albert trên bộ EastEnders.  Biển hiệu Quảng trường Albert trên phim trường EastEnders, BBC, Adam Pensotti

The BBC has made a dramatic decision to sell off its famous BBC Elstree Centre – which includes the set of iconic soap EastEnders.

Fans of the long-running soap may not need to panic yet, however, as corporation has signed a lease to continue using part of the studio campuses for the next 25 years. The sudden new sale, with estimates suggesting £70 million will be raised at auction, comes as the BBC attempts to make savings of £500 million per year – and also comes less than two years after construction of the lavish new EastEnders set was completed.

The BBC was slammed in March 2022 for splashing £87 million on the new EastEnders set which was constructed to compete with HD cameras and TV screens to make the sets look more authentic. However, the corporation was heavily criticised for the amount of money they used to construct the set.

Now the BBC is set to rake in huge sums of money by selling off their Elstree Centre grounds – which includes seven stages, a workshop, office and post-production facilities. John O’Driscoll, Global co-head of Real Estate at AXA IM Alts, said: “With the signing of BBC Elstree Centre we will be acquiring one of the oldest working TV and film studios in the UK, with a history dating back almost 110 years.

EastEnders spoilers for next week reveal four characters take some time out of Walford

The BBC spent £87 million constructing a new set for EastEnders – which was only completed in 2022 

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BBC/Jack Barnes)

“The structure of the transaction allows the BBC to continue its production on the site for at least another 25 years, while providing us with the opportunity to invest in the site to create new world class studios. The whole area has a long and illustrious history of producing some of the world’s most celebrated films and television series and, under our stewardship, we aim to continue that legacy.

“The TV and film studios sector remains one of our conviction asset classes, being underpinned by increasing demand from an ever-broader array of production houses, content creators and broadcasters. This is coupled with very limited supply of high-quality modern film and production space, particularly in and around London where new construction is hindered by a lack of available land in the right locations.”

The sale relates to BBC Elstree Centre and does not include the wider Elstree Studios – which is where iconic films and TV shows including Star Wars and The Crown have filmed. The BBC has been making drastic changes to shows and schedules in recent months as they scramble to save hundreds of millions of pounds as viewers switch off in favour of streaming services.

Fans of iconic late night news show Newsnight were devastated last year when it was announced the long-running series – which has been on the air since 1980 – is to have episodes slashed to half an hour, and half of the show’s staff were given the sack. BBC News and Current Affairs CEO Deborah Turness said of the move last November: “Like many businesses, we are in a tough financial climate and as our audiences shift rapidly from TV to online news consumption, we need to make choices about where we allocate our resources.

“While TV and radio remain crucial to BBC News, we must invest in our digital platforms to ensure they are also the home of our very best journalism, and today’s package of measures will accelerate this transformation… Newsnight has also been a source of great investigative reporting and films but we know that people are consuming the news in different ways, and it can no longer make sense to keep a bespoke reporting team for a single television programme.”

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