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6 February 2007
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Educational Resource (Part Two)
Production Process
Queen Vic
Each week we record and complete four episodes. We work in quartet (also known as blocks) episodes. The filming of one quartet starts on a Tuesday and records for nine days. Exterior, Albert Square material is recorded on our specially constructed film lot and the interior scenes are recorded in four studios. Any location material for the quartet of episodes is recorded at some stage during the recording week.
The actors arrive at work knowing their lines, have a few rehearsals and then their scenes are recorded. This is known as rehearse/record.
We usually complete all scenes six weeks prior to transmission and the majority of filming takes place at BBC Elstree Centre with occasional location work in and around London. Because of the complexity of the schedule, the cast often find themselves working on eight, sometimes 12, episodes during the recording week. When all of the material has been recorded for one quartet of episodes the Director, Videotape Editor and Script Supervisor edit the programmes.
The relevant Producer reviews tapes of the edited material and decides what material, if any, needs to be re-edited, particularly if the episodes are too long. The target length is 27 minutes 15 seconds and the maximum length is 27 minutes 30 seconds. The Director then re-edits the episodes and gives the Producer updated tapes.
One week later a 'sypher dub' tapes place. This is the process when music and additional sounds (e.g. trains, door slamming etc) are added to the episodes. The episodes are then technically reviewed and, if they are considered to be of acceptable quality, they are ready for transmission.
Our main studio complex, called Stage One, houses our major interior sets. There are three sets that permanently stand in Stage One. These are the Queen Vic downstairs, the cafe and the launderette. When a story dictates the need for additional sets, (e.g. the upstairs of the Vic), the set is re-assembled and put in the studio for the duration of the time that they are needed. We have four other studios used for other non-regular sets. When a completely new set is required, our Design team designs a set which is then built by our construction department.
Characters and Actors
Wicks family
There are usually between 35 and 45 regular characters in the cast. Some of whom have been in EastEnders since the first episode. Each new long term character has a biography written by the person who has created the character. The biography outlines the character's family history and main events in his/her life. The characters are all very popular and it is often the case that more interest is generated when a character is involved in a story that features him/her heavily. All members of the cast receive a huge amount of fan mail each week but because their workload is so heavy, it can take a considerable amount of time before they are able to respond to letters.
Each actor that works on EastEnders is contracted by the BBC Artists Contracts Department and projected storylines determine the length of an artist's contract. All actors who appear in the programme are required to have a professional training background and usually some experience in either television or theatre. The same applies to non-speaking background artists. Many of the young members of cast began their careers at stage schools.
Children and Animals
The children that appear in the programme are either found by our Casting Adviser or by placing advertisements in local newspapers. It is preferable to work with local children as this minimises their travel time to and from the studios. Every child that works on EastEnders is required to be licensed under the Childrens' Act by his/her local authority who grant a licence that permits a maximum of 40 recording days a year if the child is under 13, and 80 days a year if the child is over 13.
Most of the children that work on the programme are of school age and we are not permitted to take a child away from a school day without permission from the parents, head teacher and local authority. If a child were to be absent from school for a long period of time, we would be required to provide him/her with a tutor.
The animals that appear regularly in the programme are supplied by various agencies.
There have been some books published over the years that are very informative and cover the creation and development of EastEnders. The first publication entitled EastEnders - The Inside Story was written by Julia Smith and Tony Holland. It is now out of publication but you should be able to obtain a copy through your local library.
EastEnders book
The EastEnders Handbook, published by the BBC and written by Hilary Kingsley is also out of publication but again, is worth reading if you can obtain a copy. Other books available are EastEnders, The First 10 Years, which was published at the end of 1994 by BBC Books, and EastEnders, a Celebration. These two books are written by Colin Brake, a long-time associate of EastEnders and make interesting reading. Also, to celebrate our 15th birthday in February 2000, a book called Who's Who in EastEnders and a video called EastEnders Happy 15th Birthday were both released. BBC Books has published 20 Years in Albert Square, by Rupert Smith to celebrate our 20th birthday.
Yearly Output of EastEnders
Since the programme increased to four episodes a week, the standard yearly output is 208 episodes, with an omnibus repeat every Sunday afternoon.
Topical Issues
EastEnders has often been congratulated for its ability to tackle a wide range of topical issues. Some of the emotive subjects that have been tackled in EastEnders are:
...rape, abortion, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, drug addiction, prostitution, divorce, extra marital affairs, unmarried mothers, mixed marriages, murder, gambling, adoption, teenage runaways, illiteracy, Alzheimer's Disease, HIV/AIDS, drink driving, domestic violence and euthanasia.
When a story is created that contains legal, medical or social matters, for example, our Researchers carry out extensive enquiries to make sure that the story we portray on screen is factually correct.
Return to the first part of the educational resource

Backstage Facts
Lacey Turner (Stacey) originally auditioned for a part in the Miller family.

More EastEnders

Family Trees
How is Ben related to Peggy?

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