On June 16, EastEnders did the one thing we never thought imaginable. After 35 years, and 6,124 episodes, the BBC One soap was forced to go off air.
A moment worthy of its very own Doof Doof.
Thankfully, there was no need for a ‘Julia’s Theme’ — the melancholic iteration of the iconic soundtrack that often accompanies a poignant moment — as this departure from the telly schedules was merely a temporary one.
Yes, the nation was told that EastEnders would return — something which was further reinforced by the neat inclusion of ‘To Be Continued’ on the end credits of the final ‘pre-lockdown’ instalment.
And thus the long, long wait commenced.
A world without fresh EastEnders episodes is, quite frankly, not one we’d like to get used to. Therefore, tonight’s return is a welcomed one — and if you’re someone who hasn’t watched in a while, tonight’s the night to give soap another go.
It’s a rare opportunity to dive back in
The excitement for EastEnders’ return is off the scale, and a quick peek at social media is all the proof you need to confirm such a thing.
However, for viewers who maybe haven’t tuned in a while, tonight’s comeback is also something of a rare opportunity.
Why? because EastEnders’ big return is a relaunch — a second season, in a sense — which lends itself nicely to those thinking of dipping their toe in again
Let’s face it: a relaunch in Continuing Drama is pretty much unheard of — considering they’re on all the time — and thus it’s the perfect opportunity for have a nose at what the residents of Albert Square are up to these days.
The relevant, timely and important stories
EastEnders has a stellar reputation when it comes to tackling timely and relevant stories, and upon its return, it will continue to do so.
Therefore, you can expect to see the residents of Walford coming to terms with the ‘new normal’, as they emerge from lockdown.
The existence of the Covid-19 pandemic — and by association, lockdown — within the soap’s fictional universe allows producers and writers the opportunity to do what it does best: tell these timely and relevant stories.
Much like in the real world, businesses will have been affected by the pandemic, and this will be reflected on screen — possibly via stalwart Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), who recently reclaimed ownership of The Queen Vic pub with assistance from Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt).
We’ll no doubt see Sharon — much like the nation — adapt to the new world, and attempt to devise a strategy to allow her business to remain afloat in these tough times.
The soap will similarly explore how lockdown affected those in an abusive relationship, and it will do so with the pre-existing Chantelle and Gray Atkins (Jessica Plummer and Toby-Alexander Smith) domestic violence narrative — which is set to culminate in tragic scenes.
The compelling stories and almighty ‘Doof Doofs’
‘You ain’t my mother!’, ‘This my sweet, is a letter from my solicitor’, ‘You bitch! You cow!’
What do all these quotes have in common? They were all iconic EastEnders moments, of course! — all of which belonged to compelling stories that paved the way for some of the soap’s biggest Doof Doofs in history.
The serial drama’s return sets the scene for many more, as — in addition to using the pandemic as a backdrop — there will be plenty of compelling stories on offer, all of which promise to make for great telly.
From Sharon learning the truth about Dennis Rickman’ (Bleu Landau) demise, to Linda and Mick Carter (Kellie Bright and Danny Dyer) beginning their new chapter outside of the Queen Vic, there will be questions, revelations and unmissable drama aplenty.
There are also some great developments in tonight’s episode featuring Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Callum ‘Halfway’ Highway (Tony Clay), as well as Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton) — who has embarked on a relationship with Martin Fowler (James Bye), which seemingly sets in motion the return of Stacey (Lacey Turner)!
Danny Dyer has also teased that his new story is the ‘best he’s ever had’ since joining the soap back in 2013, which is a huge statement given he’s been a part of some classics, and therefore, all eyes will be on Mick.
Mica Paris’ arrival as a new villain
There’s nothing quite like a good soap villain, and EastEnders has been home to some of the greatest over the years. Trevor, Archie and — on occasion — Dirty Den to name a few, but the Square is set to be rocked by the arrival of a brand new one!
Singer and actress Mica Paris will join the soap as ‘formidable’ Ellie Nixon — a character who the star reckons is ‘up there’ with the most villainous Albert Square residents of all time.
That in itself is reason enough to ensure you don’t miss a single second of Walford drama from here on out, as is the fact that her story will be tied to Denise Fox (Diane Parish), who — as a result — will seemingly feature heavily moving forward.
The nostalgia has made the heart grow fonder
Although EastEnders did go off the air, fans didn’t go without their Walford fix over the last three months, as Secrets From The Square revisited some of the soap’s greatest moments, as did a series of iconic episodes — which not only kept the slot warm, but also aided in reminding us why we fell in love with the soap in the first place.
The classic episodes in particular resonated with fans, as many flocked to social media to reminisce about iconic moments such as 1994’s ‘Sharongate’, or Max and Stacey’s affair reveal from 2007.
Those of us who still watch the soap relished the classic instalments, so we can only imagine how those who no longer do felt when they revisited the past.
Perhaps you found the classic episodes a rare treat and want to give the soap another shot?
If so, then it’s the perfect time to check out what’s happening these days. You might be pleasantly surprised!
The current stories have certainly set the stage for some future classics, that’s for sure!
The history-making social distancing ‘cheats’
EastEnders will make history tonight, as not only is it returning from its first ever hiatus, but it also offers a look at how one can make a drama series with social distancing measures in place.
You see, the soap will attempt to ‘cheat’ such measures — using a series of innovative techniques devised by Executive Producer Jon Sen and a group of core directors — in order to better reflect the world we live in which, as any EastEnders viewer knows, is something the soap does incredibly well.
CGI will be used to bring actors closer together via the use of plate shots — which means that actors shoot their scenes in isolation, and then they’re digitally brought together in the editing process.
Perspex glass will be used to allow actors to move closer together, while real-life partners — and, in some instances, the perspex — will be used for kissing scenes.
Sounds pretty genuis, eh? Such innovative techniques could provide a roadmap for future productions made in a post-Covid world— including 9pm drama series, and films.
Whether your curious about what’s going on in Walford these days, or simply looking for some compelling new post-Covid entertainment, EastEnders’ return is something of a history-making moment, and therefore, it’s not to be missed.
EastEnders returns Monday September 7 at 8:05pm on BBC One.
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