EastEnders to change to a ‘new simplified schedule’ from next month

EastEnders will change to a “new simplified schedule” from next month, the BBC has announced.

The broadcaster’s flagship soap opera will air on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from March 7.

This comes after ITV announced that it would also be changing its soap opera schedule in March, moving Coronation Street to hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm, while Emmerdale will move to a 7.30pm slot.

Kate Oates, BBC’s head of continuing drama, said: “We’re delighted that, from March 7, there will be new regular time slots for EastEnders.

“This new simplified schedule means it’s even easier for viewers to get their fix, as well as being able to watch whenever and wherever they choose on @bbciplayer.

“EastEnders‘ new 7.30pm slot begins with a hugely exciting week, as killer Gray Atkins is finally exposed.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie recently defended the soap opera’s new set project, which has run over budget by more than £20 million.

The set was originally due to be finished by 2018 at an estimated cost of £59.7 million, but the bill ended up at £86.7 million.

New EastEnders set
The new set has overran its budget by more than £20 million (BBC/PA)

The broadcaster previously said that the old set was was no longer “fit for purpose” as it was built in 1984 and due to be used for only two years.

They stated the investment in the corporation’s longest-running TV serial drama – and wider BBC Elstree Centre – will enable improved high definition for Walford fans and also enhance filming options, with producers able to explore new areas on screen.

Earlier this month, pictures showed the new set as filming began in Albert Square.

While appearing before a House of Common’s Public Accounts Committee meeting in January, Mr Davie discussed the potential impact ITV’s change of soap schedule may have on EastEnders.

He said: “We’re not immune from competitive pressure, let’s be honest about it. And you may have a marginal impact or an impact during that hour, but we’re confident that the overall case for the EastEnders development remains strong.

“That whole set wasn’t going to work anyway so it needed investment. We’re also confident about EastEnders as a strand; we’ve just put a new showrunner in there.

“We need to keep investing, doing our thing, and that will deliver audiences that we believe make sense for us, both in terms of linear and iPlayer.”

EastEnders continues on the BBC and BBC iPlayer.

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