EastEnders boss claims set poses danger to cast and crew

Laura Hannam
Reporter
EastEnders boss says the original set is falling apart. (PA Images)

EastEnders boss General Lord Tony Hall has claimed that the current set in Elstree Studios poses a physical threat to cast and crew.

As a new studio is being built, the show’s director said at a Parliament Committee that parts of the current set could fall off during bad weather.

BBC Director General Lord Hall said: “When there are winds or rains you have to move the people shooting stuff as things might fall off.”

Meanwhile, the BBC soap’s new set has been widely panned for already going millions over budget – and predicted to end up going over £26 million over budget in total.

Hall and several other senior BBC staff were summoned to be quizzed at the Commons Public Accounts Committee over the extensive costs.

At the same committee, BBC’s head of content Richard Dawkins admitted that the EastEnders team had taken ‘weeks’ to decide what kind of bricks to use on the new set.

Chairman of the Committee, Labour MP Meg Hillier asked Dawkins: “I didn’t think comparing bricks was part of the job description – how long did it take?”

“It was weeks. It was in the first part of last year,” admitted Dawkins and that his team had spent 11 months negotiating with the building contractor, six months longer than initially anticipated.

MP Hillier suggested that it may have been wise for Dawkins & co to have simply gone down to the local DIY shop.

However, Dawkins argued that it was “really important” to “replicate the look and feel of Walford and Albert Square”.

The National Audit Office revealed last year that £44,000 was spent on brick samples for the new set by the BBC.

Lord Hall also continued to justify the extensive costs of the new set during the Committee.

“EastEnders is the heart of the BBC schedule and it’s important we get it right. It’s delivering a reach of 9million people a week and it’s a really important part of the schedule.

“Once we finish this project, the editorial ambition of EastEnders can be even greater than it is now,” he said.

The BBC set out plans to renovated Albert Square in 2015, with an estimated cost of £59.7 million. It is now predicted the total cost of the renovations will reach £86.7million.

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