EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra has been talking to RadioTimes.com about the soap’s plan to go live for its 30th anniversary in February 2015.
“It’s brave and exciting. Those of us who’ve worked in the theatre may be at an advantage, but then again again we haven’t worked in the theatre for a long time!” the actor laughed. “But, do you know what? It’s the 30th anniversary, they want to do something special and putting everyone on that much of a precipice where things can go wrong makes EastEnders a very exciting place to be.”
Show bosses announced earlier this month that as well as a live 30-minute episode, elements of the whole week’s worth of instalments will also be live, with the occasion also being used to unmask the killer of Lucy Beale.
Speaking of the plans for the anniversary, executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said: “It allows us to have a huge amount of surprises for the audience. It is ambitious and exciting and something I know everyone at EastEnders will excel at as they always do.”
Now, Ganatra – who plays Masood Ahmed in the BBC1 soap – has revealed how he feels about the announcement: “As long as the quality of the storytelling remains good, our adrenaline will push us through. You do it for the celebration and for the audience. If the viewers are behind you, then it’s great,” he said. “The main thing is that it doesn’t serve the audience for any of this to be leaked. It ruins the whole thing for everybody. So, hopefully, it’ll have that edge to it.”
EastEnders previously aired live on its 25th anniversary in 2010 for an episode in which Bradley Branning plunged to his death from the roof of the Queen Victoria pub and wife Stacey was revealed to be Archie Mitchell’s murderer. The half-hour milestone was watched by a cumulative audience of 19.9 million viewers.
Of his memories of that pivotal evening, Ganatra added: “There were four actors that were told to learn a specific bit of dialogue. And nobody knew if it was them who was going to be the killer until 10 minutes before the actual scene happened.
“I remember I was in the Vic watching a monitor as the show was going out live, and I caught the news over an earphone that one of the assistant directors was wearing. All I heard was, ‘It’s Stacey. Get Lacey Turner on the set now!’ It was really exciting.”