BBC urged to sack 'overpaid presenters' as it sells iconic EastEnders set in desperate savings drive

BBC urged to sack 'overpaid presenters' as it sells iconic EastEnders set in desperate savings drive

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Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 18/01/2024

- 10:48

The corporation's cost-saving methods have taken a new turn

The BBC has decided it will sell up Albert Square and other iconic landmarks in the soap EastEnders' set as it looks to cut costs.

The corporation has been no stranger to making drastic decisions over the past few months to save money - from stripping back Newsnight to axing long-running drama Doctors.

Beeb bosses have also decided to sell its other studios at Elstree, Hertfordshire along with the EastEnders set.

Axa, the insurance behemoth, is the company behind the investment after the BBC hoped to fetch £70m for the lot.

However, the finalised price hasn't been made public by the BBC or Axa.

Soap fans needn't fear that EastEnders episodes will end up being filmed in an all-new location, however, as it's been agreed the Beeb can lease the set back off Axa.

Jacqueline Jossa

Jacqueline Jossa on the set of EastEnders next to the iconic Albert Square sign


Chief financial officer Alan Dickson said of the move, via BBC News: "The sale of the Elstree Centre site is part of an ongoing review of the BBC's property portfolio in order to provide the best value for licence fee payers.

"As part of the sale, the EastEnders site has been secured on a long-term lease and Elstree will continue to be the home of Albert Square."

John O'Driscoll, global co-head of real estate for AXA IM Alts, also shared a statement following the acquisition.

"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," he began.

"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."

Selling up Elstree isn't the only shake-up to its portfolio the BBC has overseen in a desperate attempt to curb costs.

It's said farewell to its Maida Vale music studios and the BBC Radio 2 are readying themselves to find a new home after they leave Wogan House in London soon.

The decision was met with a mixed bag of reactions from licence fee payers, with some quick to question the call on social media and offer up some suggestions on how else the BBC could save money.


EastEnders' The Six storyline dominated its coverage last year


Replying to the BBC News X account after it shared the news, one fan questioned: "I wonder where they could save some money... maybe look at overpaid presenters would be a start."

A second added: "Open the set to the public, for sightseeing tours…… That will raise money."

While a third rejoiced: "It's stories like this that make me smile like a Cheshire cat. Makes cancelling my TV licence direct debit all those years ago a forever sweet decision. More and more people doing the same with each passing year is the cherry on top. #DefundTheBBC."

And a fourth suggested: "Maybe if you hadn't gone nearly 30 million pound over budget to almost 90 million in the first place when building the new set things would be slightly better." (sic)

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