Over the past two decades, the BBC’s EastEnders has become one of the most popular evening soap operas in Britain, regularly attracting millions of viewers. The show follows the intertwining lives of ordinary people from a fictional East End borough of London called Walford, but, in reality, the program is filmed nowhere near the city’s East Side.
Instead, production takes place at the BBC’s storied Elstree Film Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, to the north of the capital. Elstree has a unique place in TV and film history, as the lot has stood in for exotic locales like the ice planet of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, 1930s Egypt in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Monaco in Casino Royale, the latest James Bond movie.
Now the backlot is being put up for sale. Reflecting the strain on the BBC’s resources, Elstree and 17 other studios, as well as a host of outside broadcast and post-production facilities, are being put up on the block by the public broadcaster. According to a report in the Times of London newspaper, the company owning all the assets, BBC Resources, comes with a price tag of $300 million (€222 million) and is being sold through Ernst & Young. Initial expressions of interest are due in early September.