BBC soap EastEnders is filming again as of Monday 29th June, more than three months after lockdown forced a pause in production, and the soap has unveiled an exciting change to the set in the form of a new mural created to reflect modern British society.
British-born Ghanaian artist Neequaye Dsane, known as Dreph, has created a specially-commissioned wall mural of a Black woman positioned pride of place opposite the Queen Victoria pub on Bridge Street, next to the Beales' house and near the market.
Dreph is known for his large-scale murals and oil paintings, often focusing on unsung heroes and heroines. His 'You Are Enough' project in 2017 saw a series of portraits of Black women on walls across London, a tribute to friends of the artist making valuable contributions to their communities and society as a whole.
The artwork was painted directly onto the wall of the Elstree-set over several days, measures 5 x 2 metres in size and was completed just in time for cast and crew to return to work.
"The opportunity to have my art work on the EastEnders set as a permanent feature, having the same impact as my work has on the streets of London, was really exciting," says Dreph. "I remember watching the very first episode of EastEnders three decades ago, so I was really surprised to hear from the team!
"I'm so pleased the show has found a way to reflect modern day UK in a time when so many of us are finding ways to voice anti-racism and I'm so happy my work will become the backdrop to future storylines in the show."
Speaking about the striking new visual amendment to the Square, coming in the wave of the recent global Black Lives Matter movement, executive producer Jon Sen adds: "Dreph's mural is an exciting and timely addition to the show that reflects events taking place in the real world.
"Anti-racism is something the cast, crew and producers care passionately about and the show is well-known for tackling social issues and celebrating diversity and inclusivity through its characters and storylines."
EastEnders follows Emmerdale and Coronation Street as it resumes filming post-lockdown, with the ITV soaps having returned in late May and early June respectively. Cameras are set to roll again on Channel 4's Hollyoaks on 13th July. Safety and social distancing measures are in place for all UK soaps as production recommences, in line with current government guidelines to make workplaces Covid-safe.
The flagship BBC One soap went off air on 16th June when it screened the last episodes completed pre-lockdown. It is expected to be back on 7th September, after actor Dayle Hudson (aka Peter Beale) posted a picture on social media of a script with a clearly visible transmission date, although this has not been confirmed.
To ensure fans still get their fix during the transmission break, EastEnders: Secrets From the Square airs Mondays at 8pm, in which Stacey Dooley interviews the cast and reveals backstage secrets, and iconic episodes are re-run on Tuesdays at 7.30pm.