'EastEnders' shakes up schedule, avoiding clash with 'Coronation Street' in ITV soap battle

First look images of the new Albert Square and the iconic Queen Vic have been released as filming starts on the new EastEnders set today (11 January).

The new set replaces the former Albert Square which – having been built in 1984 with an intention to be used for two years – is no longer fit for purpose.

The investment in the BBC’s longest-running TV serial drama and wider BBC Elstree Centre enables improved HD for our audiences and enhanced filming options. EastEnders production are now able to explore new areas on screen and writers, producers and directors have greater freedom to drive further creativity.
The Queen Vic is the local pub of EastEnders (BBC)

EastEnders has announced a change of schedule, dodging a clash with ITV rival Coronation Street.

The BBC soap will now air four nights a week, Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm, putting it head-to-head with ITV's other soap opera Emmerdale, which is moving to a primetime slot of 7.30pm.

EastEnders announced their latest move in the battle of the soaps on Twitter, saying: "It’s time for a change! From 7th March EastEnders is moving in the TV schedules. It will air on @BBCOne at 7.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can now get your EE fix four days in a row!"

Read more: Coronation Street to air hour-long episodes as ITV moves Emmerdale primetime

The Albert Square soap currently airs at 8pm on Mondays and 8.30pm on Fridays.

'Coronation Street' is to air three hour-long episodes a week at 8pm. (ITV)
'Coronation Street' is to air three hour-long episodes a week at 8pm. (ITV)

ITV recently announced Corrie is being extended to three hour-long episodes airing at 8pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Emmerdale is moving from 7pm to 7.30pm five nights a week.

As part of the BBC soap shake-up daytime soap Doctors will move from 1.45pm to 7pm in the evening.

Kate Oates, Head of Continuing Drama, BBC Studios added: "We’re delighted that, from 7th March, there will be new regular time slots for EastEnders on BBC One, and Doctors on BBC Two.

"Both shows have a loyal following; and 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 iPlayer.

Programme Name: Doctors S23 - TX: n/a - Episode: Doctors S23 - ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  Hazeem Durrani (ASHRAF EJJBAIR), Karen Hollins (JAN PEARSON) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Screen grab
Hazeem Durrani (ASHRAF EJJBAIR), Karen Hollins (JAN PEARSON) in Doctors (BBC)

"A 7pm time slot gives a whole new audience chance to enjoy the drama in Letherbridge; while EastEnders' new 7.30pm slot begins with a hugely exciting week, as killer Gray Atkins is finally exposed…"

It was confirmed in January that EastEnders favourite Danny Dyer will be leaving the soap later this year, after over eight years playing Mick Carter.

EastEnders has suffered flagging ratings over the past two years. Head of Drama Piers Wenger recently blamed the coronavirus pandemic — which has led to shorter episodes due to filming restrictions, as well as a variation in viewing schedules.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/02/2022 - Programme Name: EastEnders - January-March 2022 - TX: 03/03/2022 - Episode: EastEnders - January-March 2022 - 6444 (No. 6444) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2022*** Mick Carter (DANNY DYER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Danny Dyer as Mick Carter in EastEnders (BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

He told Digital Spy: "There are very obvious reasons why we've had to make shorter episodes.

EastEnders has always been a BBC half hour, whereas Corrie and Emmerdale are commercial half hours and, therefore, shorter so they've been impacted slightly less by shooting with COVID protocols, but we are working to get back to (it)."

Read more: BBC drama boss says COVID protocols had impact on ‘EastEnders’ ratings

When COVID-19 forced the UK into lockdown in 2020 and filming was not able to continue, all the soaps were forced off air for a time, while filming protocols could be put in place.

Watch: Danny Dyer's debut as Mick Carter in EastEnders in 2013.