UK News EastEnders' £87million takes a step closer to completion
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EastEnders' vast £87 million set has taken a step closer to completion as builders were seen packing up their supplies on the costly project on Wednesday.
New images of the vast production show that a revamped version of the Queen Victoria pub is close to being finished along with a new parade of shops and the surrounding marketplace that have become staples on the BBC soap.
What began as a rubble patch of land adjacent to the show's original London set has been transformed into the fictional East London enclave, after builders returned to work following a disruption prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak and Britain's subsequent lockdown last year.
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New snaps of the sprawling EastEnders set offer a glimpse at the newly-built houses and flats that will become the base for never-ending domestic disputes between characters on the soap.
Many of Albert Square's most iconic landmarks have been recreated for the new set, including the Mitchell brothers' mechanics garage, the Beale's fish and chip shop and Ruby Allen's night club.
As building on the set comes close to completion, ladders could be seen being brought into the Queen Vic pub for redecoration while other workers packed up their supplies to finish work on the vast project.
The BBC was accused of 'complacency' over the astonishing £87 million bill for its new EastEnders set in March 2020.
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The massive build, nicknamed E20 after the soap's fictitious postcode, went £27 million over budget and is not expected to be fully completed until May 2023, nearly five years late.
MPs said BBC bosses 'badly' managed the construction and that they made 'a serious error' by failing to consider what project management skills they needed. The public accounts committee said they secured a contract poorly, drastically increasing costs.
The committee also found that contract negotiations took six months longer than planned, partly because of discussions about what bricks to use for the set. Meanwhile, the corporation spent £50,000 on samples.
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MPs added that they were 'disappointed by the BBC's complacency in managing this project, particularly in its early stages'.
And they said the BBC 'underestimated the scale and complexity of the project, including how it would age the new sets so that they either exactly replicate what viewers are used to, or look realistic where there are new locations'.
The set consists of a 'front lot' – a brickwork replica of the current set – and a 'back lot', which will provide extra locations to 'better reflect modern East End London'.
A BBC spokesman said at the time: 'We strongly reject the notion that there has been any complacency in managing this project.
'Like any building work of this scale, there have been challenges along the way including construction market issues beyond our control and working on a brownfield site.'
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The extended sound stage sees a new railway line and block of flats in place, replicating the soap's original set up.
EastEnders' brand new set was first announced four years ago when it was also revealed that the show's old 1984 set was in poor condition.
According to The Telegraph, ongoing maintenance issues on the old set hampered the show's filming schedule and presented health and safety concerns.
The updated set will allow the crew to film the programme in HD as bosses feared filming above standard definition on the current set would allow viewers to notice that the fronts of the Queen Vic and its surrounding buildings are made of plaster and plywood.
EastEnders returned to TV screens on Monday September 7 after the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the show going off air for the first time in its 35-year history.
Updated filming techniques now adhere to social distancing guidelines, however bosses have 'cheated' the social distancing rules with CGI trickery, Perspex screens and the use of stars' real-life partners, who served as body doubles for intimate scenes.
Pregnant EastEnders star Louisa Lytton celebrates fiancé Ben Bhanvra's 30th birthday with epic cake
The Ruby Allen actress, 32, who is expecting her first child with fiancé Ben Bhanvra, gave a sneak peek into the celebrations for the milestone birthday. Taking to Instagram, BBC soap star Louisa shared a glimpse inside their home which featured a huge balloon champagne bottle with gold "bubbles" pouring out of it. Meanwhile the Ruby Allen actress also shared a closer view of the amazing cake in the shape of a pint of beer with an adorable figurine of their cockapoo Riley.
Brian Conley arrives on EastEnders set for the first time .
The actor, 59, who joined the cast in February, had his temperature checked at the entrance, before being asked to go into one of the offices to have it checked again after driving to the set in Elstree.The actor, 59, who joined the cast in February, had his temperature checked at the entrance, before being asked to go into one of the offices to have it checked again after appearing to be slightly warm with his jacket on.