It’s been nearly three months since EastEnders was last aired on BBC1, but we won’t have to wait for long to find out what Walford’s locals have been up to since going into lockdown...
When the coronavirus outbreak forced EastEnders to stop filming, it was only a matter of time before BBC1 ran out of episodes.
But since lockdown measures were eased, the cast and crew have been back on set to bring us four new episodes a week from Monday 7 September.
Although the episodes will be shorter at 20 minutes each, that doesn’t mean there will be any less drama.
As Ian’s secret about Denny’s death threatens his lifelong friendship with Sharon, Chantelle is desperate to break free from her abusive husband Gray after being forced to isolate with him during lockdown.
But what about ‘Ballum’, aka beloved couple Callum and Ben?
We caught up with Tony Clay, who plays Callum to find out what’s in store for the pair and how he’s found filming with social distancing measures in place…
How has Callum spent lockdown?
Callum and Ben (Max Bowden) haven’t been together in lockdown because Phil and Ben are high risk so that’s been hard for them, but it’s also brought them closer together. Also, Callum’s started his job with the police and has been fast-tracked. He’s really in the mix of things and you’ll see a new side to Callum as he settles into his new job.
What does the future hold for ‘Ballum’?
There are a lot of twists and turns, but I can’t say too much! Callum’s job is obviously going to cause a few problems down the line, especially when he’s got Ben for a boyfriend and Ben’s dad is Phil Mitchell. He couldn’t have picked any worse!
Does Callum feel torn between his job in the police and being with bad boy Ben?
Massively. It’s his job or his love life. He’s got this new career which is very different to Ben’s ‘career’. Also, family is very important to Phil and Ben, and Callum’s thinking, ‘I’m from a broken home. I’ve never had that and now they’re welcoming me into the fold.’ It will be interesting to see how Callum deals with that.
What was it like to be back at work?
It was lovely to be back and it’s been business as usual really, albeit with new restrictions. It’s been great to pick up where we left off, do our job and still make a brilliant TV show with all these changes. It was a real eye opener, actually.
We hear you had to do a stunt on your first day…
Yes, I had arrest someone, but while social distancing, which was weird! It was interesting to see how it was done because you’re working in a much slower fashion. The scene involved a lot of running for me, but my steps count is through the roof now, so I’m delighted!
What’s it been like to film with these new restrictions?
Obviously there are challenges. There are moments in a scene when you want to step forward or you want to be close to someone, but you can’t. As actors we can be really impulsive and decide we want to grab someone, but again you can’t do that. In some scenes, perspex screens are put between actors so they can be filmed closer together. It really helps but you do feel like you’re visiting someone in prison! It’s a bit strange…
Social distancing has meant that actors have had to do their own make-up. How did you get on with that?
I think I made myself look like a clown on the first day! I’ve got better, but I can safely say that I will not be putting make-up artist as a skill on my CV!
EastEnders returns to BBC1 on Monday 7 September at 8pm – see our TV Guide for listings.