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Emmerdale boss reveals secrets of the soap’s lockdown episodes

As Emmerdale airs its special lockdown episodes, exec producer Jane Hudson gives The Big Issue an insight into their making…

One of the most inspiring things to come out of lockdown has been the creative ways people have risen to the challenges it presents – and that includes the Emmerdale team.

Production on the ITV soap ground to a halt when the UK first went into lockdown, but this week sees the first of six specially-created episodes, each focussing on two key characters living through the pandemic.

As the first soap to resume filming in the wake of coronavirus, the episodes were produced under strict health and safety guidelines. They included stripped-back crews and actors adhering to social distancing rules – creating some interesting challenges for executive producer Jane Hudson and her team.

Speaking to The Big Issue in this week’s magazine, she revealed the lengths they had to go to in order to bring the episodes to the screen – including a two-metre pole used to enforce social distancing.

We literally have a pole that is two metres long to check our distancing, and spots on the floor two metres apart for people to stand on,” Hudson said.

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She added: “We can’t get the crane out for expansive shots or lay big tracks for the cameras because to lay a track is a touching point. So we’re having to go back to how we used to shoot. We’ve all got the techniques and skills from back in the day.”

The Emmerdale boss also revealed that the episodes would touch on the hardships many have faced during lockdown, but would be mixed with light-hearted moments.

“It is really important to show what lockdown is like,” she said. “This is an important story to tell. But we didn’t want them all to be miserable and sad – they have moments of melancholy, moments of sadness, but also have really fun bits.

“One starts with Nicola furious because Jimmy has missed the wine delivery. That can feel like a massive big deal right now.”

But there’s one question on everyone’s lips right now: when will the pub reopen? Hudson’s still waiting on the PM to answer that one.

“If Boris Johnson says we can reopen the Woolpack, even with social distancing – which will be very challenging on our set, we will be writing a few new scenes.”

We’ll drink to that!

Hudson’s article is part of our After The Virus series. You can read it in full by downloading the current issue of the magazine in The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

You can also keep us going by subscribing to the magazine to receive it every week directly to your door or device. Head to bigissue.com/subscribefor more details.

You can also get a copy in stores for the first time. Head to Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, McColl’s, Co-op, Asda or WH Smith to grab the latest issue.

Emmerdale’s special lockdown episodes will air on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout June.

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