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EastEnders will return to full length in New Year after Covid caused 30 minute shows to be shortened

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After being cut by up to ten minutes due to the coronavirus pandemic, EastEnders episodes will return to their normal length of 30 minutes in January.

The BBC soap will screen three full-length episodes per week, with a fourth being cut short due to the reduced number of cast and staff personnel on site.

‘Three out of four EastEnders episodes will return to their typical 30 minute format in January, with Tuesday’s duration remaining around 20 minutes,’ a representative for the TV channel told The Mirror.

Filming was halted in March, and the weekly number of episodes was reduced to only two in an effort to restrict the show’s material.

Between June and September of last year, it disappeared off the air, only to return with shortened episodes.

The BBC has been approached by MailOnline for more comment.

Last year, EastEnders executives gave fans their first look at filming in the realm of COVID-19, which includes perspex screens, body doubles, and even CGI.

Executive producer Jon Sen said that they had to use protective screens to ‘cheat’ the social distance guidelines and even enlisted the help of the stars’ real-life partners as body doubles for intimate moments.

Jon explained to MailOnline at the virtual debut of the soap that, like many other soaps, they’ve employed creative camera techniques to mask the two-metre gap between cast members.

He did, however, add that they’ve employed perspex screens between actors to continue filming intense kiss scenes, and that some of the cast’s real-life partners have served as body doubles.

‘When we got back, we had to figure out ways to cheat the distance,’ he said. ‘It’s extremely strange shooting like this, never before in TV history have we done drama in this fashion, and we were certainly forced to work with this 2 metre rule.’

‘I went together with a handful of our key directors and we tested and tested and tested what strategies we could use to achieve distances.’

‘It was like learning skills from the ground up; obviously, you’ve seen the perspex screens we’ve utilized, which are great because they offer a performance a closeness that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.’

‘We employ plate shots, which are very rudimentary CGI images in which two individuals appear to be sitting at the same table in the final scene, but they’ve actually been filmed in perfect isolation from one another; when you’re actually filming, you’ll be talking to space.’

‘We came up with the notion of supporting artists from the same household; we had students, or husband and wife artists, who would be walking down Bridge Street and, of course, could approach closer than the two metres.’ They may also be kissing on the street, which adds to the whole impression of vitality.

‘When there are moments of intimacy or kissing, we’ve also used real-life partners, and we have to choose our moments carefully because filming like this takes a lot more time, but for those really crucial moments when characters kiss, we’ve invited real-life partners of actors onto the set to achieve those kinds of moments.’

BBC One airs EastEnders on Mondays and Fridays at 8pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm. 

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