‘EastEnders’ to Scrap All Storylines and Initiate Post-COVID-19 Reboot: Will American Soaps Do the Same?

"EastEnders" Screengrab

Just weeks before original episodes of the BBC’s “EastEnders” officially run out following a production shutdown in March due to COVID-19 concerns comes word that when the show does return it’ll be with all storylines scrapped and a time jump leading to a new era of the series and its characters.

According to The Sun, producers of the series are planning to return with a bang when production resumes later this month after implementing changes under the United Kingdom’s new filming guidelines, and that means shelving all storylines that have been the bedrock of the show’s first 35 years.

“Everyone understands that this is an unprecedented moment in the soap’s history having to take this break, so they want to make a big event out of the comeback,” said a BBC source to the publication. “They’re planning big storylines and a big marketing push — but that may mean they just start new stuff from scratch rather than continuing where they’re already at so they can be dramatic as possible. It would essentially mean the first series of EastEnders lasted 35 years — and the second starts in two months.”

It’s noted by The Sun that a reboot is just one of several ideas being considered as ratings for the series have dropped substantially after the BBC implemented a reduced airing schedule in order to prolong the end of original episodes. Unlike the American soaps — “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless” — which aired four originals Monday through Thursday, and aired reruns on Fridays, the BBC and ITV staggered their soap airings over two or three days. “EastEnders” currently airs originals on Mondays and Tuesdays with Tuesday, June 16 slated as the last original episode scheduled to air. Thereafter, reruns will take over along with a reported spinoff recapping the show’s storylines as presented by cast members.

In April, “B&B” and “Y&R” ran out of original episodes and have been airing classic episodes ever since. “GH” aired its last original episodes last month and is currently airing repeats of the annual Nurses Ball event.