EastEnders recruits Stacey Dooley to help plug gap when show is off-air

Classic EastEnders episodes and a spin-off featuring Stacey Dooley will plug the gap when the soap goes off-air.

Filming is set to resume in Walford by the end of June after production was halted amid the pandemic.

But previously shot instalments will finish on June 16, before the new episodes are ready to air.

The BBC has announced a “celebration” of EastEnders – which first hit TV screens 35 years ago – on Monday and Tuesday nights to fill the gap.

Dooley will host EastEnders: Secrets From The Square on Monday nights, from soap restaurant Walford East, with two members of the cast.

They will “reflect on their time on the show, tease what’s to come when EastEnders returns as well as the occasional sneak peek behind the scenes” in the show, which launches on June 22.

EastEnders stars Letitia Dean, Adam Woodyatt, Danny Dyer, Diane Parish, Tameka Empson and Kellie Bright are among those taking part.

BBC One will also screen “a selection of iconic episodes including the classic two hander between Den and Angie, Sharongate and the explosive reveal of Max and Stacey’s affair” on Tuesday nights.

BBC entertainment controller Kate Phillips said: “EastEnders has been at the heart of BBC One since its inception 35 years ago.

“While going off-air was never in their plan, we and the EastEnders team knew straight away that this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the show, look back on cherished memories of all those momentous episodes whilst taking a look around Albert Square and they may just give us some teasers as to what’s to come when they return.”

Dooley said: “I grew up watching EastEnders, so walking on to Albert Square was a surreal experience as well as taking a trip down memory lane and interviewing some of the legends of Walford has been great, I’ve loved every minute of it!”

Coronation Street will resume filming next week, while Emmerdale’s cast returned to work last month.

Older cast members will be absent when Corrie returns, meaning stalwarts such as William Roache (Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) and Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts) will be off-screen.

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