BBC spent £700,000 on EastEnders episode

The BBC spent almost £700,000 on its anniversary half-hour live episode of EastEnders last year, a new report has revealed.

Corporation bosses earmarked an extra half a million pounds - over and above normal costs - to fund the 25th anniversary programme.



The figures are revealed in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) into the way the BBC manages the costs of continuing drama, which also shows the Walford soap will spend nearly £7 million on cast this year.



It found the cost of six key dramas, including EastEnders and Casualty, has reduced by a fifth in real terms over the past eight years.



However with audiences declining, the NAO study also found the cost per viewer for the six programmes had actually risen by almost 9% in real terms over the same period.



The NAO concluded a lack of formal objectives for the dramas meant it was unable to say whether the BBC was actually delivering good value.



But it said the corporation had taken "important steps" towards achieving value for money with its cost-savings.



The NAO looked into UK-wide shows Casualty, Doctors, EastEnders and Holby City, plus the Scotland-only series River City and Wales's Pobol y Cwm which cost a total of £102.5 million in 2009/10.



The report details how the cost per viewer for EastEnders is a third of that for Casualty.



The hospital drama is the most expensive drama in the report at 9.4p per viewer, while EastEnders - the cheapest - costs just 3.5p.



Albert Square's live episode cost a total of £696,000 the NAO report showed, which included the extra £500,000 to fund expenses such as extra cast and outside broadcast facilities.



It proved to be a huge audience hit with 16.6 million watching on BBC1 in February of last year, and it was the most-watched drama of the year. A BBC3 spin-off straight after set a new record for a digital audience in the UK.



A live episode of ITV1's Coronation Street last year, to mark the soap's 50th birthday, is said to have cost up to £1 million - although that did involve staging a tram disaster, with large sections of the set in rubble, plus CGI effects.



A request to find out the cost of the EastEnders episode under Freedom Of Information legislation had previously been rejected.



Two-fifths of the cost of the live episode - which represents the standard cost of an episode - came from the show's £29.9 million budget for 2009-10.



Figures in the report show the EastEnders overall budget has been reduced by £6 million from six years earlier, although it is still the largest of the six shows under consideration.



The report reveals EastEnders will spend £6.9 million on cast this year with a further £2.6 million on scriptwriters and story advisors, which accounts for 32% of the budget - the same proportion as the previous year.







Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "The BBC is doing a good job of applying basic financial controls and achieving steady cost reduction across its portfolio of continuing dramas.



"However, it should take a more holistic approach and compare the cost of these programmes with audience levels and opinions, both targeted and achieved, as these are critical measures of broadcast performance, and a key guide to whether the continuing dramas are delivering value for money."



BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: "Continuing drama on BBC1 delivers high-quality British programmes that reach huge and appreciative audiences.



"Today's NAO report shows costs have dropped by 20% but at the same time, audience appreciation has risen considerably. On this basis, it provides excellent value for money for licence fee payers across the UK."







The BBC Trust said it was pleased with the finding of a 20% real terms reduction in costs.



Trustee Anthony Fry, who is responsible for value for money, said: "The report shows the BBC has made real progress in delivering value for licence fee payers, an excellent achievement of which the BBC can feel proud.



"Popular, long-running dramas like EastEnders sit at the heart of the BBC schedule, generating loyalty from audiences as well as an environment for new writing, acting and production talent to flourish. They cost viewers less than they did 10 years ago, while audience approval is on the up."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owne...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness