According to a recently published story by BBC, the TV industry has finally published a back-to-work blueprint issued by the UK’s biggest broadcasters this past Monday. The new guidelines were immediately adopted by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky to protect actors and crews during the coronavirus pandemic, who hope to start filming soaps – including EastEnders and Coronation Street – again in June.
William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in Corrie, told BBC Radio Derby on Monday that cast members had been told filming should re-start in mid-June. “They’ve said it’s all going to be very, very different,” he said. “Scenes will be about the lockdown, so people will be isolating. Scenes will be shot more simply with less people. Obviously cameras and booms will be placed where there’s the required distance. So it’s all going to be very, very different when we do get back.”
However, Roache, 88, added that older residents of the street would not return immediately for health reasons. “Senior members of the cast will not be called back for some time, sadly. I’d like to get back,” he said.
Among the measures recommended in the new 15-page guidelines are: Delivering scripts earlier, to help plan a safe work environment on set; Changing scripts and scenes to enable social distancing; Requiring actors to pick up their own costumes, to avoid direct contact; Asking actors and presenters to put on their own make-up and microphones; Using green screens – which allow actors to be in front of different backgrounds – to minimize the number of people on set; Prioritizing outdoor filming over confined spaces; Using floor markings to mark 2m distances; Using local film crews to minimize the need for travel.
The guidelines also urge caution over high-risk scenarios involving stunts or special effects, saying producers should consider the “potential demands on emergency services”. Mental health is also addressed, with producers advised to schedule down-time, along with access to support.
Last week, the BBC said production would restart on Top Gear and EastEnders by the end of June, while plans are also being drawn up to resume shoots on other independently-produced shows.
“We can only move forward with the right safety measures in place,” said BBC director general Tony Hall. “This guidance is an attempt to get that right.”
The new guidelines were welcomed by the government, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling them “a significant step forward in getting our favorite shows back into production”.