EastEnders is broadcast four times a week and had an average audience of 6.6 million in 2017. The EastEnders set, including ‘Albert Square’, was built in 1984 and the BBC originally planned for it to be used for just two years. It has never been rebuilt and is in poor condition. The BBC is replacing the external set and other core infrastructure at BBC Elstree Centre as part of a project called ‘E20’, which alongside other objectives, aims to improve audience engagement with EastEnders. A new external set is being built (on the ‘Front Lot’) using brick structures rather than the current facades that prevent filming in high-definition. The current set has also caused filming delays due to increased health and safety concerns. The BBC also plans to enlarge the site available for filming. The current external set will be demolished to provide new locations (on the ‘Back Lot’) to better reflect modern East-End London and allow a broader range of storylines. In 2013, the BBC planned E20 would cost £60 million and complete in August 2018. Subsequently, in 2015, it revised the scope of the project — planning for it to finish in October 2020 at the same cost. The BBC now forecasts that E20 will cost £87 million (a 45 per cent increase) and finish in May 2023 — nearly five years later than originally planned.
Published: 20 March 2019