KISSING, as we know it, is gone. Over. No more. Don’t expect to see any sort of kiss on our television or film screens, whether a passionate kiss, a reluctant kiss, a cutesy kiss, a stolen kiss, an awkward kiss, an Eskimo (should that be Inuit?) kiss, a footballer’s forehead kiss, even an air-kiss – or a Judas kiss. And certainly not a French kiss.

Thanks to Covid, on-screen kissy-kissy is now banned. Our TV dramas, for example, can offer plexi-glass-screen-pretend kissing. And directors are allowing real-life bubble partners to be drafted in, who can hint at intimacy. But that’s as close as we’re going to get to a real on-screen snog these days.

Does it matter? On viewing this week’s EastEnders’ kissing, cuddling, intimacy-free world it does. It looks an odd place. The distance imposed upon the characters gives the production an oddness, a sterility and a lack of intimacy.

But it’s in line with the code set out on Intimacy in the Time of Covid-19, a UK directors’ guideline, a well-thought out document with safety at its core, which suggests that directors ask if a physical act needs to be shown? “The build up to an intimate scene can sometimes be more exciting than the scene itself.”

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The strategy document also asks: “Do conversations that might ordinarily have been shot face-to-face really need to be filmed that way? Could they be done in singles edited together?”

Back in Thirties Hollywood, a new Production Code of Conduct arose (after May West explicitness had shocked the world) which demanded that screen kisses couldn’t be “lustful” and last more than three seconds.

It commanded that no more than one person could be seen on a bed – the one foot on the floor rule –and lovers weren’t allowed to be horizontal. (One presumes the knee trembler to be most certainly prohibited.)

And so script writers and directors fought to have the ruling changed. But now, thanks to the pandemic, we’re reverting to the days of sexual restriction.

British TV directors are being asked to have characters talk about sex rather than show it, to hint at carnality with a closing bedroom door, to suggest a little fornication by showing frantic fingers unfastening awkward blouse buttons.

It’s even been suggested we return to Hollywood sexual prohibition days by the use of silhouettes or shadows. “Even the preparation and serving of food and the pleasure of eating it.”

Of course you could argue there have been some great film moments where the suggestion of sex has been way more powerful than actual depiction. Who could forget Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway’s chess fingering in The Thomas Crown Affair? It was just this side of erotic.

And wasn’t Brief Encounter all the more steamy because the train station couple never made it off the platform?

It could also be claimed that it took Tom Hanks an hour and 45 minutes before he planted a smacker on Meg Ryan’s mouth in Sleepless in Seattle. It took Billy Crystal only a little less time before he snogged that very same face in When Harry Met Sally.

But that was then. TV and film audiences are used to, and crave, visual intimacy. We don’t necessarily want to see Ian and Sharon smooch in EastEnders, but we do need close-up action from other couples.

Romance and lust shouldn’t be contained. The camera really has to close in on the tight heads till the point you can almost feel mouths sticking together, like two teenage squid denied of love action for five months. We need the kiss, the sometimes slow, sometimes frantic, sometimes inelegant, sometimes slobbery –but always exciting kiss.

We need the touching of soft epidermis, the glistening of tingling sebaceous glands because it’s a pre-empter to what’s to come. It’s that single moment which says”We’re off!”, we’re at the starting gates of the relationship and we’re about to go at it as if nothing else matters.

Would the BBC’s summer hit Normal People have been so powerful without the kissing that took place? Don’t we need the Debra Kerr rolled about on the beach with Burt Lancaster From Here to Eternity moments, steamier than a Morphy Richards iron turned up to 10?

Yes, thanks to Covid we have to go back to the Dick Van Dyke Show sensibility, the separate beds world, which allowed for no more than a peck in the cheek. In fact, we won’t even get a peck now. But let’s not be happy about missing out on a right good snog. And if a kiss isn’t a real kiss, can we kiss any connection to reality goodbye?”