EastEnders using CGI and real-life partners as body doubles to resume filming during pandemic

Soap returns on Monday 7 September

Isobel Lewis
Friday 28 August 2020 09:34
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Katy Perry does EastEnders impersonation on The One Show

EastEnders bosses have revealed the innovative new methods being used to allow filming to resume mid-pandemic.

The long-running BBC soap will return with new episodes on Monday 7 September after being forced to take an extended filming break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about shooting again, executive producer Jon Sen revealed that protective screens have been placed between actors to help “cheat” social distancing rules, as well as enlisting the actors’ real life partners to use as body doubles.

This is in addition to camera methods being used to hide the two-metre distance between performers, including two shots being filmed separately and edited together with CGI.

“When we came back, we had to devise methods where we could cheat the distance,” Sen told the MailOnline. “It was like learning skills from the very beginning. You’ve seen the perspex screens we’ve used, which is really good as it gives an intimacy to a performance that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”

Actors perform through a perspex screen

Describing the process as “very odd”, the producer revealed that members of the same household were being used as supporting artists to “add to the sense of life”.

“We’ve also used real-life partners when there are moments or intimacy or kissing,” Sen continued. “We have to choose our moments carefully because [it] takes much more time to film like this but for those really crucial moments when characters kiss, we’ve invited real-life partners of actors onto the set.”

Actors Tony Clay (left) and Max Bowden keep two metres apart

Earlier this week, BBC Drama controller Piers Wenger praised EastEnders for finding “ingenious” methods of navigating pandemic-related filming restrictions.

It follows after a new set of guidelines was published for filming scenes of intimacy during the pandemic.

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The suggestions for directors include reviewing scripts to see whether physical interaction is necessary or could be replaced with “emotional intimacy” instead.

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