BBC is accused of 'outrageous overspend' after splurging £87million of TAXPAYER cash to buil
The BBC has been accused of 'outrageously overspending' licence fee cash after it emerged that EastEnders' new set will cost £86.7million.
That is £27million over the original budget – and the project is expected to be nearly five years late.
Work to rebuild and extend Albert Square was due to be completed in August at a cost of £59.7million.
But a damning National Audit Office report published today finds that the BBC's poor planning and lack of expertise means it will cost 45 per cent more, and will not be completed until May 2023.
The NAO says the Corporation 'will not be able to deliver value for money' with the project, named E20 after the soap opera's fictional Walford postcode, which is being funded entirely from the £150.50-a-year TV licence fee.
The current EastEnders set at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire was built in 1984 using steel frames, plywood and plaster brick panels. It was intended to last only two years.
The poor quality of construction means high-definition filming is not possible, while health and safety concerns have caused delays to filming.
The BBC is building a new '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'. It has been reported that one of the new locations will be a mosque.
The front lot is now expected to cost £54.7million – 75 per cent more than planned – after it took 11 months for the BBC to negotiate with its contractor Wates.
Construction there has only just begun, while the back lot is still 'at an early design stage'.
Responsibility for the E20 project lies with Richard Dawkins, the £195,000-a-year chief operating officer of BBC Content.
The NAO report finds that early planning processes led to 'underestimation of aspects of complexity, cost and risks'.
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My view: The BBC should scrap the annual licence fee, I don't get why the TV station can't fund itself through advertising rather than TV taxes. The story-lines are pathetic and extremely boring, I don't know a single person that watches Eastenders. 80% of the actors are chavs and over paid, some of them have been in the series for over hundred years -hahaha!!. SKY News is more inventive, energetic interesting to watch than BBC News and annoying Eastenders. Also ITV News at Ten is more exciting and interesting than the BBC at 10pm. It's time to abolish the pointless fee.