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EastEnders boss Kate Oates admits she was ‘nervous’ returning after lockdown maternity leave

EASTENDERS’ boss Kate Oates has admitted she was nervous returning to the set after her lockdown maternity leave.

The head of continuing drama at the BBC welcomed a baby in 2019 and took maternity leave before lockdown was implemented.

Now back at work, Kate has opened up about what it was like returning to set under social distancing measures.

She told The Sun Online: “I felt a real mix of emotions. 

“I had been on maternity leave so I was coming back after quite a long time so I was a little nervous as a lot of people will have been. 

“The reassuring normality was great and I came back for a really special occasion – we unveiled the mural to reflect what was going on in London around Black Lives Matter. 

She added: “It was a really special occasion. 

“A moment like that, TV history in front of you, I feel so lucky to be here I love everything about the show. I got very emotional.”

The soap has pioneered new ways of filming to ensure cast and crew safety while also making it seem as if on-screen couples are together and not socially distancing.

They include perspex sheets to allow the illusion of touching and even actors’ husbands and wives drafted in for kissing scenes that can then be edited.

Executive producer Jon Sen added: “When we came back, we had to devise methods where we could social distance and it’s very odd – never before in history have we made drama in this way. 

“There is so much attention to detail and we have been forced with this two metre rule. Alongside our directors, we tested methods that we could employ to achieve it. It was like learning from the very beginning. 

“There are perspex screens as it gives intimacy to performance. We use flake shots which are basic CGI where it looks like they are sitting together but have been filmed in isolation. When performing, the actor is talking to space. 

“We hit on the idea of supporting artists from the same households. So a husband and wife walking down Bridge Street can walk down the street or kiss – so it adds to the sense of life. 

“We have to choose our moments for on screen kissing carefully as it takes so much time but those crucial moments, we have invited real life partners on set. Can you spot it? There are other genius stuff that we won’t give away because we don’t want to spoil the illusion of the drama. The cheats are hard to spot.”

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