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BBC agrees sale of EastEnders set as part of Elstree studios deal

The BBC has agreed a deal to sell its famous BBC Elstree Centre, which includes the set of EastEnders.

The corporation will still have use of the facilities after agreeing to lease part of the studio campus for 25 years.

The BBC has exchanged contracts with Axa Investment Managers for the 16-acre site.

Royal visit to set of EastEnders
The King and Queen on a visit to the EastEnders set in Elstree in 2022 (PA)

The value of the sale has not been revealed but the BBC is currently looking to find £500 million in annual savings.

The campus includes seven stages and currently includes workshop, office and post-production facilities.

John O’Driscoll, global co-head of real estate at AXA IM Alts, said: “With the signing of BBC Elstree Centre we will be acquiring one of the oldest working TV and film studios in the UK, with a history dating back almost 110 years.

“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.

“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.

“The TV and film studios sector remains one of our conviction asset classes, being underpinned by increasing demand from an ever-broader array of production houses, content creators and broadcasters.

“This is coupled with very limited supply of high-quality modern film and production space, particularly in and around London where new construction is hindered by a lack of available land in the right locations.”

BBC Stock
The campus includes seven stages and currently includes workshop, office and post-production facilities (Ian West/PA)

BBC Elstree Centre was the first of several such complexes in the local area, which are collectively known as Elstree Studios.

Originally created as a film studio for Neptune Films in 1914, it was converted for use as a television studio in 1960 and sold to the BBC in 1984 as the production base and set for its new soap, EastEnders.

The wider Elstree Studios is one of the world’s most famous film and television production campuses in the world, where blockbusters such as Star Wars have been filmed, and is not included in the sale.

Alan Dickson, the BBC’s chief financial officer, said: “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.

“Moreover AXA’s investment ensures the Elstree site remains a fantastic asset for the UK’s creative economy.”