Eastender’s Albert Square set to receive £86.7m update

Albert Square will be getting a well-needed set update scheduled to be finished in May 2023, a recent report suggests.

A report from the National Audit Office, published today (Dec 13) the proposed plans for the set of Eastenders.

The report states: ‘The BBC now intends for E20 to be completed in May 2023 – 31 months later than envisaged in its 2015 plans. Delays primarily stem from: procurement delays, as limited market interest resulted in the BBC revising its approach; subsequent contract negotiations taking longer than planned; and more realistic assumptions about the time needed to age the newly built Lots.

The plans are now £27m over budget.

‘The overall forecast delay, which includes contingency time is additional and separate to the 26 months the NAO (National Audit Office) reported in 2016.’

The British soap opera was due to have renovations made after a proposal in 2013, however after the BBC majorly changed their plans, the deadline was shifted. The newly-scheduled work will cost a total of £86.7m, a staggering 45% increase of the original budget.

In September of this year, the BBC spent £28.2m to complete repairs on areas of the set, though in the report it states that ‘work has cost more and taken longer than planned’.

The 1984 Walford set is in now such a state that the BBC are struggling to film good quality episodes: ‘The poor condition of the set means the BBC cannot film in high-definition, degradation has led to increasing filming delays owing to stoppages in production due to health and safety concerns, and there are ongoing maintenance costs to ensure filming can continue.’

Plans include constructing the ‘Back Lot’ and ‘Front Lot’, considered to be the two most ‘challenging’ areas of E20.

In a statement, Amyas Morse, head of the National  Audit Office said: “The BBC will not be able to deliver value for money on E20 in the way that it originally envisaged. It is surprising that some of the reasons for this were built from the beginning.

“Despite recent project management improvements, E20 is late and over budget against its 2015 plans. We believe that the planned benefits are still broadly achievable, but given the high-risk nature of E20 it will need close scrutiny until it is finished.”

The original set for Eastenders, including Albert Square, was built in 1984 and it was planned to only be used for two years. However it continued to last whopping 34 years in action, but is no longer fit for purpose.

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Brittany Tijou-Smith

Brittany is a third year Multimedia Journalism student, her work has been featured on KentLive and KentOnline. Her filming work also won ‘Documentary of the Year 2018’ at Canterbury Christ Church University.

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