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EastEnders star admits struggle with socially-distanced scenes: 'It’s been tricky'

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Team Walford are back at work, but it's far from business as usual...

EastEnders star Diane Parish, who plays Denise Fox, has spoken about the realities of filming the soap in the covid-19 era, and admitted that rules on social distancing mean actors are no longer creatively ‘free.’

EastEnders Secrets Diane Parish as Denise Fox

Diane Parish (Denise Fox) admits that filming EastEnders is now an altogether different experience

Filming on the soap resumed at the end of June, following a three month closure, but life on set is now very different, due to health and safety regulations.

Speaking ahead of an appearance on the chat show EastEnders: Secrets from the Square next week with co-star Tameka Empson (Kim), Parish opened up about how she has found the new regime following her return to work.

“It’s been tricky,” admits the 50 year old.

“Actors intrinsically have to be free; they have to be tactile and uninhibited. And when you place inhibition on an actor, it can sometimes be hard to be comfortable playing a scene out. You’ve got a third eye on yourself because you’re aware of the things you can’t do.

“The thing I was taught when I was learning was to leave yourself alone as an actor, and this is the antithesis of that. You have to be very aware of yourself so that you don’t touch the wrong thing, or throw your arms around somebody, or walk too close. We have to adhere to those things for our safety. It’s difficult, but it’s possible.”

But the star, who joined EastEnders in 2006, adds that she is immensely grateful to be in employment when so many actors have had jobs cancelled.

UK theatres have been closed since March 16th, and many have been plunged into economic turmoil.

“It’s good to be working,” she says. “That’s the important thing for many of us in soap at the moment, that we are part of a very privileged group in our industry who have jobs to go back to. So I’m grateful for that.”

EastEnders was last on air on 16th June, and ended with a cliffhanger in which Sharon Watts was revealed as the new landlady of The Queen Vic.

Sharon and Ian EastEnders BBC

'What can I get ya?' Sharon had a surprise for estranged hubby Phil when 'Enders was last on screens

Bosses haven’t given a date as to when the soap will be back on screens, but they revealed last month that new episodes will be just twenty minutes long.

Speaking at the time, executive producer Jon Sen said: “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.”

Alison Slade
Alison Slade

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.