BBC to fix sets in preparation for HD

The BBC will have to invest thousands of pounds in upgrading the sets of shows such as EastEnders and The Apprentice in preparation for high definition, it has emerged.

As more BBC shows are being broadcast in high definition, the corporation is reportedly concerned that wear and tear on sets will be visible to viewers in the sharper, clearer picture.

It was previously revealed that the next series of The Apprentice will be filmed in HD, which could air in 2010, if this does not clash with the general election after Alan Sugar took up his new post in the House of Lords.

In preparation for this, thousands of pounds will now have to be spent on improving sets such as the boardroom so that the show looks presentable in HD.

"Those Perspex sheets that we use to make the glass walls are about eight years old now, and they are quite scuffed and scratched. Any dust, fingerprints or smears on them are definitely going to show," Cath Pater-Lanucki, who worked on the set, told The Independent.

"If we go to HD, I think we'd have to replace all the Perspex on the set and we would literally have to have a props man on set the whole time polishing surfaces."

According to Pater-Lanucki, each of the 60 Perspex sheets would cost around 300 to replace, which would feed into an estimated 40,000 cost of producing The Apprentice in HD.

"My worry is that they're not going to put the budgets up accordingly," she added. "I don't think the reality has really hit anyone."

In preparation for its HD debut on Monday, the entire set of Dragons' Den at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire had to be repainted, production designer Nik Callan has revealed.

"Every brick you see on the Den is painted - we had to have every single one done," he said. "Realistically, it costs thousands of pounds to upgrade a set for HD, and productions have got to allow for it."

In response, a BBC spokesman said: "The move to HD for programmes is a key priority for the BBC and very much part of our long-term planning, including all cost implications. We have detailed advance discussions with productions that are due to make the move, to ensure that the transition is as smooth and as cost effective as possible.

"With 19 million HD-ready TVs sold so far, and as we move towards a time when all programmes will be made in HD, it's important that the BBC helps lead these changes to deliver the very best service for our audiences."