Great Britain

EastEnders bosses ‘fear mass exodus over extended breaks and pay loss’ caused by coronavirus

EASTENDERS bosses are said to be concerned there may be a 'mass exodus' of the cast as they adjust to a new normal following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sunday Mirror claims several stars of the BBC soap will take storyline breaks over the next few months as a knock on effect of COVID-19.

The news comes after it was announced that Jake Wood - who has played Max Branning on EastEnders for 15 years - would be departing Albert Square.

However, Max has been written out and not killed off - meaning the door remains open for the 48-year-old actor.

An EastEnders spokesperson told The Sun Online: "It is not unusual in soaps for cast to have breaks for storyline reasons or other projects.

"However these are always planned months in advance and no discussions have taken place about operating a period of extended breaks, nor are we introducing a rotation system."

EastEnders was forced to take a three month break this year as the UK went into lockdown, and now bosses are adjusting to the "new normal".

According to The Sunday Mirror "social distancing means that fewer people can be on set at one time".

An insider told the publication: "Cast were called by ­producers over the past few weeks and told that, going forward, they would be operating a period of extended breaks for some.

"It could see up to a third of the cast off at any one time on a loose rotation system.

"Actors will not be paid when they are off and they’re not happy. Some are considering quitting," the source alleged.

EastEnders filming resumed in June but episode lengths have been shortened from 30 minutes to 20 as social distancing has made filming more complicated.

Producers have used body doubles, CGI and even clear plastic screens between stars to film passionate kisses.

Enders bosses have a big exit planned for Jake as it's been reported that he may be heading over to ITV to take part in this year's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Bookies Ladbrokes make him 3-1 to appear in this winter’s jungle show - which will take place at Gwrych Castle in Wales instead of Down Under.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: "With his time on the Square coming to an end, we reckon I’m A Celeb chiefs could be about to snap him up."

EastEnders' Chantelle Atkins dies after husband Gray pushes her onto a knife in the dishwasher

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