'EastEnders' is to getting a new set after almost three decades, BBC bosses have revealed.
The staff and cast were informed on Thursday that the exterior scenery at the studios in Elstree will be rebuilt and expanded "in order to secure the long-term future of both the show and site".
It will be completely replicated and the built area will expand by a fifth, with work expected to be completed in 2018.
The Queen Vic
The revamp of Walford has been approved by the BBC's executive board just weeks after ITV rival Coronation Street overhauled its set as it moved to a new studio location in Salford.
The present EastEnders set was built in 1984 ahead of the show's launch the following year, and the plan to upgrade is said to match the show's creative ambitions under new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins. It will also improve the conditions for staff on the BBC1 soap.
When work begins, a temporary set will be created to allow filming to continue while the permanent structure is rebuilt. And the BBC is looking into the possibility of the temporary set being opened up to visitors or for education visits at some point.
Mr Treadwell-Collins said: "This is a really exciting project and firmly demonstrates the BBC's commitment to the future of EastEnders.
"We have ambitious plans for the show and the new exterior set will help bring those to life and better reflect the east end of London on screen for audiences. The bigger and improved set will increase the potential for storylines, increase quality and meet the demands of future technology requirements.
"Crucially, it will provide a greater sense of scale with more locations for our characters to spend time in, opening up new areas and opportunities that haven't been possible before - all of which are in the best interest of our viewers."
Kate Harwood, the BBC's head of drama for England, said the project was a "crucial" investment for the future of the show.
She said: "The improvements and modernisation are vital to the growth and development of the show. As we approach the show's 30th anniversary, this is a really exciting opportunity to underpin the future of one of the BBC's most important programmes."
Construction of the temporary set will begin next year.