Lockdown has forced the soaps to think creatively about how to include this new normal in storylines and practically. When filming started again, soap bosses had to decide how to show the romance, drama and excitement we all love, while socially distancing. And should they put actors in masks? Or acknowledge the pandemic in storylines?
With each soap approaching things in a different way, EastEnders decided to resume the show as though the characters had been locked down too – with the action in Walford continuing off-screen.
Enders superfan Jess Newbold tells us why she thinks her fave soap is smashing its post-lockdown comeback.
1 Social media
Enders used social media to update fans in an ingenious way. Character profiles appeared on the Instagram page every day to give us an insight as to what had happened during lockdown.
It saved lots of unnecessary questions and explanations when the soap came back on screen.
2 Real-life couples
Actors from EastEnders have roped in their real-life partners to come in and film scenes that need physical contact – for example the scene where Kheerat gave Chantelle the poker chip.
It gives the soap the personal touches we’ve become accustomed to, while they’re still following social distancing guidance.
3 Perspex screens and tricky camera angles
We’re all used to seeing screens in shops now, and Enders have made good use of them, too.
On screen, there were characters who have been locked down together, while obviously their actor alter-egos would not have been – causing problems with social distancing. The solution? A perspex screen and camera trickery making it seem as though Ruby and Martin shared a kiss on Friday 25 September, when actually, they didn’t.
4 Not hammering it home
Coronavirus has been woven into scripts so subtly by the writers that you could blink and you’d miss them. For example in the first episode back, Ben told Callum he hadn’t seen him for months, and Suki Panesar is seeing ‘opportunity in chaos’ by selling masks at top whack. This approach means while lockdown is acknowledged, the focus is kept on the square and the drama, not the pandemic.
5 They were on a break
It was hard for fans to be without their Walford catch-ups but in hindsight it was a good decision. It gave the bosses at EastEnders time to really refine their plans for filming, rather than rush to keep the soap on screen. The return was so dramatic that it trended on Twitter so it shows that taking a break really paid off. Series two is fabulous and I’m loving every second of it!