EastEnders to return to screens with SHORTER EPISODES

EastEnders logo

‘Filming will inevitably be a more complex process now’

EastEnders bosses have announced that the soap will resume filming in the next few weeks, and will be back on screens, four times a week, later in the year.

But there’ll be a big change to BBC1’s flagship drama – and we don’t just mean that there’ll be no kissing or fighting due to the two metre social distancing rule implemented as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Viewers are used to seeing 30 minute instalments – although, in reality, episodes actually last around 27 minutes. However, in the “new look” EastEnders, episodes will be just 20 minutes long, much like Neighbours and Home and Away.

Linda Carter is having second thoughts in EastEnders

EastEnders will return with shorter episodes in a surprise move by bosses (Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

Says EastEnders executive producer Jon Sen: “Resuming production is incredibly exciting and challenging in equal measure.

“Since we postponed filming, we’ve been working non-stop, trialling techniques, filming methods and new ways of working so that we can return to screens four times a week – as EastEnders should be.

“Filming will inevitably be a more complex process now, so creating 20 minute episodes will enable us to ensure that when we return, EastEnders will still be the show the audience know and love.”

EastEnders, like all other UK soaps, was forced to shut down filming back in March, when the country went into lockdown. Episodes filmed before the lockdown were then screened at a rate of just two a week – rather than the usual four - in order to keep the show on screens for as long as possible.

However, that bank of episodes is set to run dry, and the last episode – for now – will air this Tuesday, 16th June. It will end on a cliff hanger regarding the future ownership of The Queen Vic, following Mick and Linda Carter’s decision to sell up.

Stacey Dooley on the set of EastEnders

Stacey Dooley is in Albert Square

The gap left on Mondays will be filled with a new chat show, EastEnders: Secrets of the Square, in which Stacey Dooley interviews current cast members. The confirmed line-up includes Kellie Bright and Danny Dyer (Mick and Linda), Letitia Dean and Adam Woodyatt (Sharon and Ian), and Tameka Empson and Diane Parish (Kim and Denise).

Meanwhile, on Tuesdays, there will be re-runs of classic episodes from the archives, including the soap’s first ever two-hander between Den and Angie from 1986, the climax of the “Sharongate” story in 1994, and the explosive reveal of Max and Stacey’s affair on Christmas Day 2007.

Alison Slade
Soaps Editor
Alison Slade has over 20 years of experience as a TV journalist and has spent the vast majority of that time as Soap Editor of TV Times magazine.  She is passionate about the ability of soaps to change the world by presenting important, issue-based stories about real people in a relatable way. There are few soap actors that she hasn’t interviewed over the years, and her expertise in the genre means she has been called upon as a judge numerous times for The British Soap Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards.

When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.