GES071 - Eastenders Set
Not long after joining the 28DL forums, I was flamed over a post about BBC TV Centre by a certain keyboard warrior. I was surprised as to who came to message me to not worry about it. It was Downfallen, the person who inspired me to join the site. We talked a bit, and I said that I'd been thinking about other BBC properties, including the soap opera set at Elstree. It's a closed set, so getting in is tough even for BBC Staff, which i'm not. However, when I was predictably banned from 28DL, I never heard anymore about doing the set. It should be noted at this point, that i'm not actually a fan of the show, in fact, I hardly watch TV at all, mind rot.
Over 2 years later, and I was looking for some more infiltration fun after the Olympic Park. And I raised this again with some chums, and they were up for it. So in late August, GE077 and I went up to Borehamwood to check out the perimeter, and possible ways in. Convinced we found one, we left to come back with GE007 as planned another time. Queue mid September, and that time came.
I met GE077& GE007 near the access point. We went over the plan, studied a map of the set and possible exit points in case of trouble with security. I then climbed up and darted behind a Genie access platform for cover. The others quickly followed, and we nipped across into the back of some houses. The houses were normal at the front, but basically only came back about 2 metres. The doors had lots of electrical plugs and gear behind them. The windows with mesh curtains.
We weren't there long when I went to look at the end house of the terrace. As I did I briefly saw some people in hi-vis walking towards us. I tried to nip back to the others who were a couple of metres away, but too late. "They're they are, call the police!" Shit! At this point GE077& GE007 legged it. As with Pyestock, I was a bit a ditherer when it comes to being chased by security. It's only happened twice with me, and I tend to go into headless chicken mode. So I went into the open bit of a house, and I 'hid' behind cupboard. I say hid, because someone with no eyeballs and a white cane made of wet tissue could have seen me. However it turns out that after a few minutes, security had assumed that I was either GE077 or GE007. So I was now alone.
One might think to do what comes natural, and get the hell out of there, especially as I wasn't far from our access point. Tragically we'd only come about 20m. However I walked back up to the last door and it was a regular door, that had been left on the catch. It had a bit of wallpaper so they could film shots of the door opening, and then nothing. I believe this is the home of Pat Butcher, lover of hideous clothing and costume jewellery (probably
based on Carol Thatcher).
I crept around the corner to some bins, where I felt I could be reasonably safe. GE077 texted to say he was out, but GE007 had been nabbed. I said I was still inside. And then set about trying to carefully grab at least one photo to make the visit worthwhile. The Queen Vic in the centre, and the square in the foreground.
Returning to Pats, I grabbed another shot of the top end of the square.
Still not seeing signs of life, I decided to go and get the money shot with the Albert Square sign. Creeping along in the few shadows available, I set up the camera. Still forgetting that wide angle lens make crap portrait takers.
I then grabbed a photo of the car lot. It was odd (but not surprising) that everything seems bigger and more spaced apart on the show. There were also a lot of gaps between buildings, making things more difficult to get around.
Still nothing doing, so I figured I had the place to myself, and walked into the square, passing the spot were Pauline Fowler snuffed it in front of her husband's bench. I grabbed a shot of the Queen Vic and the market area.
While I was thinking about what to do next, the decision was made for me. Suddenly all the stage lights came on! I was crouched in almost bright daylight. I quickly looked for cover, and tried to get the best I could under the big fir tree in the middle of the square. I tried to cover as much skin as possible so I was all dark and ninja like, with a brown woolly hat pulled low over my head. I sat quietly wondering what next, when I heard a diesel engined vehicle pull up, and at least two people got out.
They sounded like two people from a Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse sketch, all lovely jumbly East End Jellied Eels mate, the other guy was quieter and no obvious accent. I assumed they were tradesmen, or here to alter the set. I started to wonder how I would get out, where they might be working. They started talking about the set, so it was clear it was their first time here. "Look, that's the Queen Vic." "Oh, you gotta get my photo with the
Albert Square sign. Try to get the Queen Vic in the background." Said the lovely jumbly geezer. They then proceeded to talk about focusing and what type of picture format it would be.
They walked around the square and ran off the names of who lived where, taking the odd picture. Then they walked to the Vic and did some pictures there. Eek, a bit close. "Oh look, there's Arthur's bench." said Mr. Jellied Eels. And he walked into the square, probably standing no more than a metre away from me. His colleague stood with him. I couldn't see what was going on, and merely waited to be caught, as I wasn't that well hidden at all, just the shadows from the branches above for cover. My stupidly long legs sticking out the other end. "How do we get out of here." said Harry Enfield. My head was angled at the exit to the square half a metre in front of me.
Shiiiiiit! I was now worried he might tread on my head. But luckily by some miracle, they left through another exit, and walked off down the market. "There's Ian's cafe."I could hear them in the distance now, and decided to spring to action. I grabbed a shot of the Queen Vic again from just in front of where I was hidden, now that it was bright from the house lights. The Mini-Mart sits next to it.
Then, assuming some powers of bravery from somewhere, I went to take a few more pics. As I left the little square garden, I noticed a new addition to the square, in the shape of a police car. (compare below to Pic #4)
The two guys were cops! Far more interested in looking around the set than looking for me! Maybe this is how I should do more places, become a copper. I crossed to the diagonal opposite side of the square, and found a latched door that I carefully opened. On the other side was ironically the Police Station (dark building) and the Veg stall under the arch.
I kept going across Victoria Square to under the arch. Then grabbed a shot of the various market stalls here at the top of Turpin Road.
And then a pic looking down the street, including an 'authentic' mobile shellfish bar.
Not sure where the cops were ahead, I made my way back. There was no sign of them in the square, but the car was still there. I was about to get a closer shot down the market, when I heard, them, and tip-toed ministry of silly walks style into the nearest house. According to a map, the home of the Shirley family?!?
The Cops walked to their car, got in, and as one might predict, did a lap of the square and drove off. As they disappeared, I leaped out to get a shot by the Albert Square sign again. Half way through the exposure, they turned the stage lights out. Bum!
I took the cops departure and the stage lights going out, along with the fact that GE077 & GE007 were sat around waiting at the station, as time to call it a night. I packed my stuff, headed back, and off to find my way out. I then met up with the others trying to hide my beaming smile. I had done it, although sadly at their expense, and the holes in their trousers trying to climb the huge spike fences. MM said that security were alerted to the fact we'd triggered motion detectors at the access point, despite careful reccieing a few weeks before.
Unlike most straight forward explores, this one was more interesting than an episode of the show any day!
Cheers to GE077 & GE007 for unexpectedly giving me the chance to explore the set.
This site is also in members on UER
This trip also gets a mention in a piece in the Swiss paper Le Temps. (Translated - At the top of the list included expeditions on the roof of the British Museum, at the top of St. Paul's cathedral, on the set of the British series EastEnders or on the pinnacle of new towers symbolising the City, like The Shard and Heron Tower.) St. Pauls and British Museum roof were done by other explorers.