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The long wait is finally over! The zombie apocalyptic series, The Walking Dead, returns with its much-anticipated last six episodes of S10, starting on Monday, 1 March, on FOX (DStv channel 125) with a simulcast at 03:00 and a repeat at 20:45.

No one is more excited than executive producer Angela Kang. “We usually average a 16-episode season, but with S10, we have the luxury to expand it to 22 episodes in total and tell more stories about our characters and their danger-filled journeys. Our de facto end for the season was in October last year, but then the network decided to grant us more episodes as a build-up to S11, which will be our final season, airing in 2022,” she says.

Angela Kang

And the bonus episodes will have you glued to the screen, pitchfork in hand.

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Six of the best

Angela is proud when she says that she thinks the extra episodes are some of the best in S10. “You’re going to see these beloved characters pull through some pretty hairy situations. I think these episodes are kind of classic The Walking Dead survival stories on the road. These are always fun for us to write and the fans will connect to that because there’s some stuff that’s really base-level things they’re dealing with, like how do you get food and proper shelter? We throw in some mystery and intrigue and some good scares. I think our actors did an amazing job in these episodes and I hope fans will tune in and watch these folks just doing their awesomeness. I’m always blown away by what our actors do.”

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The pandemic and fanning the flames

The birth of the bonus episodes was partially in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, says Angela. “COVID-19 hampered filming last year and we had to find a safe path for cast and crew to continue to go back to set. So it’s a blessing the network granted us more episodes because now we had a chance to expand on some of the things that we think will give our audience a rich experience of understanding more about these characters, where they are, and planting the seeds for growing storylines.”

Angela also explained that they wrote these episodes for the fans. “We write from the perspective of fans and we get to write the greatest fan fiction. That’s what our job is. We put ourselves in the shoes of our fans and ask ourselves what would they like to see in the series on TV? I think that was really what informed our decisions to kind of dive into certain bits of the story and hopefully, it will be fun for people to watch.”

Hope

With the pandemic, Angela was concerned that maybe the six new episodes might be too depressing. “That was the feeling I got when speaking to the writers. But in the end, we all decided that the one thing that underlies the darkness of the series is a feeling of hopefulness. And I think there's a sense that there is a will to survive and to push on, and to just make the best of the impossible to even comprehend circumstances.

"I’ve met various people from all walks of life who are fans of the show and they told me they understand the notion of struggle that our characters face in the series. They understand the desire to try to work through it and to survive that. So I think there is something that's so human about our story and people can relate to that in the strange times we are living in. I hope there's comfort to be found in that and in these characters who love each other so much, and who have really been striving to make a better world for themselves and their children.”

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The Walking Dead marches on

Although fans of the series will only see six episodes this year, Angela and her team have been hard at work on the final season. “We are actively working on S11,” says the executive producer. “It will be a long season for us, 24 episodes, the longest yet for any season we’ve done. We are all working on that and making sure all of our partners at the network and studio are on board. But you know, it’s The Walking Dead, so everything has incredibly high stakes. We’ll be introducing new communities who are antagonists, sometimes allies, and there’s going to be all the human drama that we’ve built up. We have Maggie (Lauren Cohan) back and there’s a great magazine story that we’re working on. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but there will be a lot to look forward to for our fans.”

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Filming during COVID-19

One of the toughest things for the crew and cast was filming during COVID-19 and following safety protocols. “Usually, there are hordes of zombies on our show. You’ll now see fewer of the zombies, but they are still there. And there are more character-driven episodes,” says Angela.

“I also think that what’s been a challenge for everybody who produced something during COVID-19 was figuring out the protocols. Everything in terms of the way we do things now is just so different. There are all these safety protocols on set that we follow and make sure that everybody is going to have a good, protected experience on set, while still trying to deliver a show that is scaled down with fewer hours and less crowds on set.

"We also had to set up a mobile lab where everyone working on the series could be tested and the results released quickly. With all the protocols we have on set, mask-wearing and social distancing, it really worked out well at the end, and we can continue to expand what we are able to do as a production.”

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Watch The Walking Dead S10 on Mondays on FOX (DStv channel 125) at 03:00 and 20:45 

FOX is available on DStv’s Premium, Compact Plus and Compact packages. To upgrade your account or to get DStv, click here.

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