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A Matter for the Public Record

Whilst other people ponder the intelligent questions about Margaret, BBC TWO/HD’s drama about Thatcher’s fall from power, I’m here to debate the frivolities. Such as: is the House of Commons set used in the programme the longest-serving set in UK television history?

The famous set was first created for First Among Equals, Granada’s 1986 adaptation of Jeffrey Archer’s novel. It was then used in everything from The New Statesman to State of Play, and also formed part of the Granada Studios Tour; I saw it myself back in the late 90s. (Paul Abbott reveals on the commentary for State of Play that he bought the set himself for use in the show, as it was about to be destroyed and he didn’t think the BBC would move fast enough to save it.) And here it is, popping up again in Margaret - 23 years after it was first constructed. The fact that it stands up today in glorious HD proves how brilliantly it was made in the first place, although no doubt it’s had the odd bit of restoration across the years.

So the question is: is this the longest serving set in British TV history? Of course, there’s the soaps - but the Rover’s Return used now almost certainly isn’t the same set used back in 1986, is it?

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The exteriors of Coronation St have pretty much been the same for the last 25-30 years - interiors I don’t know.

Emmerdale is filmed on location rather than in a studio ie is essentially a real village. So while modifications may have been made, the core remains.

And aren’t Eastenders moving to a new HD-friendly set, implying that they have had the current one for quite some time

By Simon
February 27, 2009 @ 12:20 am

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I was think the same about the set of the front of Downing Street

By Nick
February 27, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

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Good point about the exterior soap sets. So yeah, you’re right - Corrie probably wins that award, as they moved into their current exterior set back in 1982. Emmerdale moved to an entirely new exterior set in Harewood in Leeds in 1998, though. (And I think the interiors are shot in the studio, aren’t they?)

So, then - is this the oldest indoor set? Although you make a good point about the Downing Street set, Nick (which I *also* saw on the Granada Tour!) - was that also constructed for First Among Equals? Are they both an identical age?

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By John Hoare
March 01, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

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