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EastEnders: I worked on the car crash scripts

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Samantha Psyk Samantha Psyk | 11:36 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

I was lucky enough to spend three months working on EastEnders as part of the BBC Production Trainee Scheme.

I was working as their assistant script editor, and was also shadowing an experienced script editor to follow a week's worth of scripts from commissioning through to filming.

These episodes will just have gone out on TV, so I'm only allowed to talk about them now!

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EastEnders is a truly unique environment. It's hard to describe the atmosphere, but because the set and production offices are all in one location, there's a constant buzz about the place, and a real sense of community.

It becomes normal to pass the actors on the way to the canteen, or in the production office as you nip into a meeting.

There's a real sense of the EastEnders 'company'. It feels to me like an old-fashioned repertory theatre company - pretty distinctive in this day and age.

My job was to monitor character and story continuity across all scripts. This involved a lot of reading - at any one time I could be reading up to 20 new drafts each week, tracking each character's pick-up from their last appearance to make sure it all made sense.

Luckily, I absolutely love reading scripts and could quite often be found at my desk laughing out loud, gasping with shock or even shedding a tear. I felt privileged to be reading scripts from a show I've watched since I was a kid.

I also had to write long-term character and story trails, charting storylines across several months of scripts to help script editors and writers have as much context for storylines as possible.

Attention to detail is taken very seriously at EastEnders and all this work helps keep the richness to the scripts.

All the characters are treated as real people, so everything - from what their usual drink in the Vic is, to what hours they work - is recorded and tracked. This level of detail is what helps Albert Square feel vibrant and alive.

One of my favourite parts of the job was going along to the monthly long-term story meetings where everyone sits round a big table to discuss the upcoming stories and the Writers pitch new ideas.

It was amazing to see how passionately everyone would debate things, and to see storylines develop in front of me.

After this meeting the story team would go away and work on the ideas that had been given the go-ahead.

Then, once the writer delivers a draft of their script, this is discussed at a script meeting.

If anything isn't working these notes are fed back to the writer who then works on another draft.

Albert Square

It might be that a particular character's voice isn't quite coming through, or that a storyline doesn't quite flow from the previous block of scripts, and the script editor's job is to work with the writer to help fix this sort of thing.

The scripts I was shadowing really started to come to life in the production meetings with the designer and director.

You will have seen that there is a dramatic stunt sequence when Max and Abi are involved in a car crash. Hearing the director discuss how he intended to stage this was fascinating!

Everything, from what cars would be involved, to what Abi and Max's injuries would be, to how they were going to schedule the shoot around the stunt, was discussed.

These dramatic sequences really lift a script off the page and after hearing the director talk about it, I knew this episode was going to be memorable.

The filming of these episodes only began in my final week on EastEnders, but I made sure I got to go along and watch some!

It really was one of the highlights of my time on the show. I just couldn't believe I was on the EastEnders set!

Watching Jo Joyner, Jessie Wallace and the rest of the cast film a hen party scene was one of those surreal "pinch yourself" moments!

Reading these scripts for the first time gave me goosebumps, so I can only imagine how they came across on screen. By the time you read this, I'll know! How exciting is that...?

Samantha Psyk was a trainee assistant script editor on EastEnders.

EastEnders continues on BBC One and BBC One HD on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with an omnibus on Sundays. You can catch up with episodes on EastEnders website.

More information about training for a career at the BBC is available on the BBC Production Trainee Scheme website.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    This is fascinating. Really interesting read. Sounds like you had a good time!

  • Comment number 2.

    Are you able to tell me how you apply for this scheme please?

  • Comment number 3.

    thanks, adambacon - glad you enjoyed reading it!

    hi nancygyal - all the info about the Production Trainee Scheme can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/jobs/pts/. Unfortunately applications have closed for this year, but I'd definitely recommend applying next year!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm sure that it must have been a great job and lots of fun as well besides hard work.
    We use to have Eastenders on T.V here in Australia, but that was year and years ago. As we don't have it on T.V anymore, I'm downloading it now from the Internet.
    I love Eastenders. :-))

  • Comment number 5.

    Samantha, saw the link for this on the official website, so thought I'd click the link and check it out and I'm glad I did. After reading it, it seemed like you had such a fantastic time and an experience you will remember forever. I would absoloutely love to have what you did full-time, it would be such a brilliant job to have. The detailed blog you have posted was such a fascinating insight and such an enjoyable read; and, WOW, what a block of episodes to oversee too. I think sometimes people forget the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes as well as what goes out on-screen. From the executive producer, storyliners, script writers, script editors, series story producers to name a few! EastEnders is like a big massive machine and from seeing cast being interview it's so obvious they are all loving it at Elstree at the moment, there seems to be a brilliant atmosphere and good feeling in the place right now. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, I really enjoyed reading it and I'm sure it'll be an experience you will always remember. Thank you.

  • Comment number 6.

    Gosh, I grew up in Sri Lanka thinking all those of Great Britain were really COOL (James Bond, Twiggy, Shirley Bassey, Matt Monroe, Cliff Richardson), good looking and spoke eloquently. What a disappointment - more than half the actors/actresses in East Enders have MAJOR dental and facial flaws - are not the least bit attractive and can't speak PROPER ENGLISH (as we were taught). Nothing appealing about the show. The Indo-Anglo thing - been there, done that with millions of Bollywood films, so what's the attraction of East Enders?


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