The production team behind EastEnders has come up with a creative way to get around the problem of filming actors in close contact with each other, while still following Covid-safe filming procedures.
The soap has hired the real life partners of the cast to allow "moments of intimacy to be cheated" as the soap resumes next month.
Partners of some cast members will stand in as body doubles for other cast members in order to allow for "crucial moments where two characters are kissing" to be filmed, while adhering to government guidelines.
The move is just one of various unique filming methods put in place by the show to keep the cast and crew safe on set.
When does the show return?
New episodes will air from Monday 7 September 2020, after the show’s three month long break, caused by the UK’s lockdown.
EastEnders will return for four nights a week. However, the new episodes will be shorter than usual, at roughly 20 minutes rather than the standard 30.
‘Adds to the sense of life’
The show's executive producer Jon Sen said the production team had to be selective when filming restarted at the end of June, explaining that the new way of filming intimate scenes "takes much more time.”
He went on to explain that the cast's loved ones won't just be used as stand-ins in bedroom scenes, but also in outside and in background shots.
"We hit on the idea of [using] supporting artists from the same household to reflect the world outside... or a husband and wife who would be walking down Bridge Street and of course they can get closer together than the two metres,” Sen said.
"It really adds to the sense of life."
What other safety measures are in place on set?
When it came to indoor sets (such as the Queen Victoria pub), producers were required to get even more creative with the filming process in order to adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines.
Clear Perspex screens are being used between actors sharing a scene. However, they will be placed in a position to make them invisible to the camera.
Sen explained that the screens allowed the cast members to be “really close together and that's really good because it gives an intimacy to performance that wouldn't be possible otherwise.”
Meanwhile the use of special effects and computer-generated shots are also in the works to make filming look as seamless as usual. These will help to create the illusion of actors being closer together, despite having “been filmed in complete isolation from one another.”
Sen explained, "When you are filming, the actor will be talking to space, essentially, and that will happen with the other actor, and then you'll put them together and it will look like they are at the same table, so we're doing that a lot.”
Additionally, producers have implemented temperature checks for both cast and staff, and created a one-way system around the sets.
Seats in the famous Queen Vic have been rearranged to ensure cast members remain at least two metres apart, which may be spotted by astute viewers when the show returns.