28 Aug Coronavirus: EastEnders actors’ real-life partners brought on set for kissing scenes during pandemic | Ents & Arts News
The real-life partners of the EastEnders cast will appear on screen to allow “moments of intimacy” amid social distancing measures, the crew have revealed.
Kissing scenes will feature actors’ husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends – but camera angles will be used to make them look like their on-screen partners, executive producer Jon Sen said.
Perspex screens have also been installed on the set of the BBC soap so actors can appear close together but still practice social distancing.
Some of the extras seen in new episodes will have been specially selected because they live in the same household – to give the impression of normality and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Sen added.
He said: “Our greatest challenge is that we have several family units, that’s the nature of EastEnders and soap, and families who would be in the same household, so not at two-metre distances, but obviously they are played by actors who are obeying social distancing, so there’s a huge challenge at the heart of it.
“For those really crucial moments where two characters kiss we’ve actually invited the real-life partners of the actors on to the set to be able to cheat those kind of moments.”
“We hit on the idea of supporting artists from the same household to reflect the world outside. Of course they can get closer together than the two metres or they can be kissing in the street.
“It really adds to the sense of life,” he added.
The crew have also used ‘plate shots’ – a special effect that means you can film two actors separately but edit them so they appear close together.
EastEnders was last on air on 16 June – before filming was halted due to COVID-19.
When it returns to our screens on 7 September at 8pm, episodes will be 20 minutes instead of 30, but will still be broadcast four times a week.
Kate Oates, head of continuing drama at BBC Studios, said: “We wanted the ambition of the storytelling and the quality of the storytelling to be as high as possible, so to achieve that and to make it look brilliant, it takes longer so we really did have a judgment call to make.
“We could make half-hour episodes that just don’t look as good, that aren’t as rich, that don’t have all these special touches to them, or we could talk to the channel and say we believe we can deliver a better show at this time, in this timeframe, and they were so supportive.”