Well, we have clung onto the wreckage and made it into a new year, so congratulations everyone. I hope you enjoyed the holiday period whether by yourself or with family. My neighbour invited me in for a Christmas day meal and I enjoyed New Year's Eve alone as I nowadays find dancing in the fountains of Trafalgar Square at midnight a bit tiring.

A belated farewell to the lovely June Whitfield, who passed away in December. I met her a couple of times and she was a treasure. Why they waited until a year before her death to make her a Dame whilst giving such honours to people 50 years younger is beyond me.

I must thank reader Tony from Potters Bar, who is a retired group editor of a number of north London newspapers, who sent me a very kind email. He said this was a fascinating and very readable column with an affectionate but also slightly sardonic style of writing. I always consider myself an amateur writer so from a professional that is praise indeed.

Back in 1985 I was invited to tour the new backlot set at the BBC Elstree Centre by its designer Keith Harris and the Head of the Studio Keith Clement. It had been created for their new flagship soap opera called EastEnders and was one of the reasons the BBC bought the Studio from ATV in 1983.

A great deal of effort had gone into ageing the buildings, sometimes to the annoyance of contractors, who wanted their work to look brand new. I am now told it was only designed to last two years, which is not what I was told at the time as this new soap opera was planned to last for years and it was rapidly a huge ratings success.

As you may know, in 2015 the BBC agreed to rebuild the set on another part of the site at a budget of £59.7 million. That was great news as they had been exploring options of moving away, which probably would have meant the closure of the studio and 17 more acres of housing in Borehamwood.

However, the National Audit Office have kindly sent me their 46-page report criticising the way this whole project has been handled and when you read it you understand why.

The alarm bells are ringing because the project has escalated in cost to £86.7 million and has been delayed finishing from 2020 until 2023 with parts of the plan now having to be cut back.

The BBC created a project management team, which to date has cost nearly £6 million but according to the report did not consider the specific skills required and failed to engage those actually making the programme for their input. Now you may very well think these were basic requirements, but I could not possibly comment.

To look at one issue alone. The project included upgrading a really old boiler house, which is great as it would benefit the whole studio and reduce annual energy costs. However, the report indicates no proper survey was undertaken regarding asbestos, so that added £1.8 million to the budget.

Alas, no well-paid executive has fallen on his sword but then again it is only public money and the BBC got £3.8 billion from licence fees in 2017/18. However, on the plus side the BBC are staying thank goodness and the project has already produced two new control rooms, new edit suites and new efficient boilers.

So my January sales offer to the BBC is I will join your project team on minimum wage to help you meet the new target with some old fashioned sense of value. Are you up for the challenge? Until next time, take care.