Former EastEnders star Pam St. Clement has spoken about the BBC’s plans to build a new set for the soap in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
The actress, who played Pat Evans in the BBC One soap for 25 years, explained that the move is a necessary one as the saga’s current outdoor lot has “just been patched” up since it was built and is at risk of falling down.
“When you think that that show was built and designed, the set was designed, to last max 10 years. It’s just been patched over the years since.
“So if it is going to continue and be part of the schedule it has to be rebuilt for health and safety reasons if nothing else. The thing will fall down otherwise. It’s like anything if your car starts to have bits going wrong with it you either put it right or it falls to pieces.” – Pam St. Clement
The BBC first announced plans to rebuild the EastEnders exterior set at the beginning of 2014. The current set was built in 1984, designed by Keith Harris, and has remained in continuous use, with slight modifications including making it HD ready in 2010. The BBC say the new backlot buildings for the fictional town of Walford – centred on Albert Square – will secure the long term future of the Elstree facility and the programme itself.
The studios began life as a film studio dating back to 1914. It was purchased in 1958 by ATV Network for television use with the ATV Elstree Centre opening in 1960. It switched to Central Television in late 1981 before being sold to the BBC in 1983. The site of EastEnders’ backlot has been home to many previous television structures including The Globe Theatre for a lavish William Shakespeare drama starring Tim Curry, an Olde English village for a Bing Crosby festive special and an East End market street for 1960s soap opera Honey Lane.
St. Clement admitted that the East End portrayed in EastEnders is out of touch with reality, but told the station she approves of reported plans to include a mosque in the rebuild.
“If it was being done for real now, there’d just be suits living there. You’ve got to find a happy medium but I think it is quite right to keep it up to date with things like a mosque.” – Pam St Clement