Coronation Street is to resume filming next week, but bosses are not taking the return lightly and have set up certain measures to assure the safety of both the cast and crew.
In a case of art imitating life, the iconic pub on the cobbles, The Rovers Return Inn, which is always the epicentre of drama and where a lot of scenes are set, will now only be selling takeaway pints and drinks.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, ITVs Managing Director for Continuing Drama, John Whiston, explained that they will set the show in the context of the coronavirus but not make it the focus.
He said: “We'll do it quite lightly, the Rovers will do takeaway, you'll see the odd person wearing masks, if things loosen up than it's easier to build it into the scripts, we will be reflecting the pandemic, Underworld may indeed be making PPE equipment.”
The TV executive also touched upon the fact that certain storylines have new importance due to the current climate.
In particular is the shocking storyline that sees Yasmeen Nazir in an abusive relationship at the hands of her cruel husband Geoff Metcalfe.
With domestic abuse on a rapid incline during lockdown, John explained: “I know the timing with domestic abuse being on everybody's agenda, we've had a huge number of letters on that story, and that was based on going out, getting the research from people.
“I think it's just normality, I find that myself, you watch the news at six and then you watch the telly, you just need something that takes you out of it.”
Coronation Street will resume next week, but cast members over 70 years old, such as Bill Roache who plays Ken Barlow, will not be returning to the set until it is deemed safe.
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John said: "It's their safety we're most concerned about, and Coronation Street wouldn't be Coronation Street without those characters in it.
"We'll do everything we can to film them safely. At the moment, following government guidelines there's a process to go through to see whether our clinically cast can come back.
"If they can't come back , we'll find some way to bring them into the show."
He continued to say: “For a while we won't have children on the show, because they come with a lot of extra people.
“The senior people in our cast are really important to our show so we'll find a way to get their presence in the show.’”
The ITV boss also described some of the more complicated elements as Emmerdale has already re-started filming during Covid-19. This includes the need for cast to stay at a safe two-metre distance.
He said: “We've been putting in lots of new things, new protocols, the two metre distancing.
“Our production manager has been given a retraction pole, we've put shields on the camera, we've had to make a lot of this up ourselves because there's no guidelines for it, guidelines had come out but no one had done drama in a socially distanced way.
“If someone picks up a letter, another cast member can't pick up the same letter… you have think about that.”
The programme has been filmed cleverly so at times it may not look like cast members are social distancing.
John revealed: “It doesn't look like they're standing two metres away from each other. I think we'll get complaints from people saying they're not standing two metres apart!”
Soap stars in the news
Another problem with filming during lockdown is the new haircuts that some of the cast have. For example Danny Miller, who plays Aaron Dingle in Emmerdale shaved his hair off during lockdown before filming resumed.
John said: “You can also see my biggest problem with Aaron's haircut, most of the cast decided to shave their heads, and lots of the female cast members deciding to dye their hair. So we had to put in a lot of lines taking the p**s out of his hair.”
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