Wimbledon Studios, the former home of The Bill, could be emptied, with hundreds of jobs lost and high profile productions cancelled as the advanced stages of a takeover reaches a crucial stage.
Documents sent by studios landlord Andrew Perloff seen by the Wimbledon Guardian show a deal with Wandsworth-based Iranian television company Marjan Television Network “is more or less finished.”
In a further twist to the ongoing tale, studio founder and managing director Piers Read resigned with immediate effect on Monday.
Studio boss resigns saying takeover "will kill studio"
David Smith, company secretary and financial controller also resigned and will be leaving.
Mr Read said: “I resigned because I can’t be involved in this.
“Enough is enough.
“I have my reputation to protect – it was a sad day.”
The future of the studios in Deer Park Road, Wimbledon, has been in doubt for months, with a number of bidders coming forward when the landlord Panther Securities PLC announced it would sell the 200,000 square foot property if it helped to secure funding for the studios.
Up to 50 businesses based in the Media Village at the studios await their fate as well.
A source close to the studios said: “They would rather evict everyone in the Media Village and bring in Iranian broadcasters than speak to us about a rescue package.
“There’s a conflict.
“It would be vacant possession – everyone out by October and cancelling productions including BBC and Channel 4 contracts.”
Mr Read said he proposed an ‘exciting’ £10m rescue package for the studios, including investment in office space, studios facilities and a digital hub.
According to the source, Marjan Television Network Ltd would empty the studios and close the Media Village.
The source said the deal was due to be done on Friday last week but the deadline has been extended until Friday, August 1.
One businessman from the village said they had been given next to no information about the future of the site and want a face-to-face update from management.
Mr Perloff the chief executive and chairman of Panther Securities Plc, said to say the studios is in debt is an understatement.
He said: “The Media Village will be told as soon as we know anything for definite.
“That could be in a few weeks, or longer, or shorter.
“There are two proposals – one wants to rent and one wants to pull it down.”
The source said: “Marjan’s plan is to close it to the public so they can use it for their own private TV network.
“It is as bad as bulldozing it because of the impact on the 350 people who go to work there every day.”
A spokesperson at Marjan Television Network Ltd was not available for comment.