The BBC department responsible for building classic props such as the Daleks for Doctor Who and the spacecraft in Red Dwarf is to close with the loss of 22 jobs, writes Will Strauss
BBC special effects, which supplies pyrotechnics, animatronics and models to the BBC and other TV and film clients, will shut next month. The corporation admitted that new computer animation technology had overtaken the demand for more traditional techniques such as making things out of wood, rubber and metal, and as such the department was no longer making enough money to justify its continued existence.
BBC post-production manager Lesley McMahon said: "There has been a steady decline in the physical effects market in recent years as demand for 3D and digital effects has increased and programme budgets have been squeezed. Despite continued efforts on the part of everyone involved in the business, it has not been possible to achieve profitability on all projects and hence sustain the commercial viability of the business."
It is understood that all work currently in progress will be completed but nothing new will be taken on. A spokesperson for BBC Resources said that where possible "staff will be offered practical help with re-training or assistance in finding new roles across BBC ventures group or the BBC."
The BBC special effects department, part of BBC Resources, which is in turn part of the BBC's commercial ventures division, has a long legacy of creating iconic props. It was also responsible for Doctor Who's Tardis, the robots in Robot Wars, Marvin the Paranoid Android in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the spaceships in Blake's 7.