'Huge costs' behind Countryfile Live move from Blenheim Palace

BBC Countryfile presenters (left to right) Adam Henson, Ellie Harrison, Charlotte Smith, Anita Rani, Tom Heap, John Craven and Joe Crowley Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Countryfile Live has taken place at Blenheim Palace for four years

A BBC Countryfile Live event will move from Blenheim Palace to Windsor Great Park because of traffic issues and costs, its founder has said.

The four-day event has been held at the palace near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, since 2016.

Tim Etchells said: "Massive security and traffic management issues carry huge costs which is one of the reasons why we're moving."

Drivers had complained the event caused gridlock in and around the town.

More than 400,000 people visited the event over the past four years but Mr Etchells said: "Was it a success financially? No. It's a very expensive event to put on."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption More than 400,000 people visited the event in Woodstock

Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said despite the traffic issues the event would be missed.

"For some people it was an inconvenience but it was for only four days, and when you consider the amount of money that it brought into Oxfordshire… I think it was important," he said.

Mr Etchells said it was always the plan to move the event to bring in new audiences, and the Berkshire location meant "we can lay the event out in a different way and make it more cost-effective".

Mat Way, global director of live entertainment at BBC Studios, said: "Oxfordshire has been a brilliant home for the event, with local producers, exhibitors and contractors all contributing to the quality of the overall experience.

"For its fifth year, we have a great opportunity to open at Windsor Great Park, and we look forward to seeing Countryfile Live in a brand new location."

Image caption Surrounding roads have at times been gridlocked at previous events at Blenheim

Dominic Hare, CEO at Blenheim, said hosting Countryfile had been a "real privilege".

"The show and its team goes to its new home with our gratitude and very best wishes for the future. Oxfordshire can be proud of its role in nurturing this event."

Countryfile Live also took place at Castle Howard, near York, this month for the first time.

Organisers apologised for traffic delays at the event but said it would return in 2020.

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