BBC weighs sale of iconic Eastenders studios in Elstree
The BBC is weighing up a sale of its iconic studios at Elstree in north London in a move that could spark a major upheaval for productions such as Eastenders.
Real estate consultant Lambert Smith Hampton has reportedly surveyed the site ahead of a possible disposal, although no decision has been reached.
The studio complex could be worth as much as £70m if it is transformed into housing, according to Broadcast magazine, which first reported the move.
A source told the publication that a sale would mean that Eastenders — which uses six out of the seven studios at the site — would need to offer a long-term lease to allow BBC Studios to continue producing the soap opera.
A BBC spokesperson said: “While we always keep our property portfolio under review, the BBC has not made a decision to sell the site. We have of course made long term commitments for its continued use.”
The BBC has been plagued with difficulties over a major project to rebuild the Eastenders set, which was built 35 years ago and is no longer fit for purpose.
The redevelopment, dubbed E20, is now £27m over budget and is expected to be completed almost five years late.
A damning report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2019 blamed management for the project’s failings, saying executives at the corporation underestimated its scale and complexity.
Any move to sell the Elstree site would come as the BBC scrambles to cut costs amid increased competition from streaming rivals such as Netflix and political pressure on its licence fee funding model.
The broadcaster has cut hundreds of jobs and slashed production budgets, adding it was on track to make savings of more than £950m by the end of the upcoming financial year.
But a sale of the studio space would also come as property developers and media firms race to build new film and TV hubs in the capital to fulfil booming demand for new content.
Sky is due to open its new studio complex in Elstree next year, while earlier this month US private equity giant Blackstone announced plans for a new £700m film hub nearby in Hertfordshire.