Original EastEnders cast member Adam Woodyatt has spoken out about resuming filming on the soap, which returns on Monday 7th September after a three-month absence from our screens, revealing how cast and crew are coping with new rules to ensure health and safety on set in the age of coronavirus.
“We’re all adapting as quickly as possible,” he says. “I think it’s going to look great on screen, hopefully seamless! The production team have been fantastic at adapting filming techniques, grouping us together and being creative with scenes and camera angles to make it look realistic as well as, most importantly, keeping us all safe.”
All UK soaps have had to surmount the challenges of keeping actors the required one metre-plus distance apart, as well as having them be responsible for their own hair, make-up and costume and employ a safe and sanitised way of using props. Plus, scripts and storylines have been tweaked to address the pandemic, while finding the balance of not making it the focus.
As EastEnders went off the air, Ian and best mate Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) were revealed as the surprise new owners of the Queen Vic, having beaten Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) to buying the pub from the outgoing Carters. However, cowardly Mr Beale only put up the cash to assuage his guilt over the secret he’s hiding from his oldest pal.
“It seems there’s nothing Ian won’t do to keep Sharon happy, he just has the little issue of not admitting what really happened on the night Denny died. It’s an age old yet timeless dynamic – the one person Sharon trusts the most has committed the ultimate betrayal.
“After everything she went through with losing her eldest son, giving birth to Kayden, the drama with Phil and Keanu and eventually Phil kicking her out, Ian is striving to be there for her even more so because of the terrible guilt he feels at being to blame for Denny’s death. It’s a really interesting dynamic to play out, especially as they have been in lockdown at the pub together.”
The drama kicks off in the first new episode since June, when Dotty Cotton finally telling Sharon the truth about Ian’s involvement in Denny’s demise – a moment fans have been patiently waiting for since the teen perished in February’s 35th anniversary boat disaster.
“Ian has been lulled into a false sense of security about Dotty,” observes Woodyatt. “In the first part of lockdown it was so strict and the pub had to shut, so Ian would’ve been pretty cut off from the rest of the Square.
“But as we return things are opening up again and Dotty is not going to give Ian an easy ride. Any hope she might have miraculously decided to drop the whole thing are out the window! His friendship with Sharon is going to be tested in a few different ways.”
It’s been reported Ian will be temporarily leaving the Square as part of an exciting autumn storyline, but Woodyatt won’t be drawn on the details or what drives him out.
“Without giving too much away there is plenty coming up for Ian,” he teases. “He has got money worries, things aren’t looking good for him especially with regard to his new business venture, plus Dotty, his guilty secret and how the rest of the family have dealt with lockdown. It’s certainly not going to be quiet.”