The UK (and global) TV and film industry has been forced into a state of frigidity thanks to the global COVID-19 crisis.
But broadcasters have clubbed together to draw up a plan to thaw the entertainment industry from its locked-down ice-age.
With sets and sound-stages in darkness, actors and crew waiting in the wings and TV fans panicking about when they’ll see their favourite shows return, networks such as Sky, the BBC, ITV, ITN, Channel 4 and Channel 5 (with the backing of the Producers Alliance For Cinema And Television – or PACT) are working hard to get cameras rolling once again.
Back from the brink: The UK (and global) TV and film industry has been forced into a state of frigidity thanks to the global COVID-19 crisis. But broadcasters have drawn up a plan to get things back on their feet [pictured: EastEnders]
But things will look a lot different compared to the industry pre-pandemic.
Stars used to being taxied around, having lunch laid on and given a stylist will have to forgo such star treatment while social distancing is still being enforced.
The UK’s soap stars, along with the casts of dramas such as Line Of Duty and Peaky Blinders – both of which were mid-way through shooting their sixth seasons when coronavirus hit – will be packing a lunch, even providing their own cutlery and utensils in order to eat said lunch, and doing their own make-up.
To avoid contact, touch-ups will be restricted and, if necessary, guided by make-up artists from afar.
Out of darkness: Networks such as Sky, the BBC, ITV, ITN, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are working hard to get cameras rolling once again [pictured: Line Of Duty]
Green-lit? I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, which airs in late November-early December, is still said to be going ahead, being one of the last recurring shows of the year to take place
There’ll be staggered lunch breaks and where someone brings their own kitchen utensils they ‘would be responsible for cleaning and ensuring they were identifiable’.
There will be no more chauffeuring actors around, with travel guidance stating that ‘single occupancy vehicles’ should be used where possible.
The new rules come from a 15-page plan set out by the UK’s various broadcasters.
The guidelines also enforce as much outdoor filming as possible – but not in a public space.
Scenes that are required to shoot inside need to be in a ‘large open space with good ventilation’ and should ‘avoid small rooms where possible’.
Do It Yourself: The UK’s soap stars, along with the casts of dramas such as Line Of Duty and Peaky Blinders [pictured] will be packing a lunch, even providing their own cutlery and utensils in order to eat said lunch, and doing their own make-up
For scenes requiring bustling backdrops, extras are being replaced with green screens, to avoid over-crowded sets.
Personal Protective Equipment won’t be used unless ‘filming in higher risk settings such as hospitals’.
Actors over a certain age are still thought to be advised not to return to work as of yet, although the guidelines are not explicit on this.
It’s likely that shows such as Top Gear, Coronation Street, Eastenders and Emmerdale will be gearing up to return to work with these measures in place sooner rather than later, after these shows have been announced to resume in June.
But the new guidelines will surely coax back other series on top of this.
Axed: ITV2’s Love Island has already been canceled this summer, thanks to the amorous nature of the production and the travel restrictions in place
Soaps in particular have been massively hit by the pandemic, given their fast turnaround and multiple airings each week.
Episodes have been rationed since the lockdown was green-lit in March, so that the likes of the BBC and ITV will not run out of new episodes to air.
ITV’s chief executive Carolyn McCall said: ‘Our production teams are now working hard to bring many more much-loved shows back for viewers.
‘This requires really innovative thinking, but above all, the safety and wellbeing of all those who work on the programmes is paramount.’
Streaming shows filming on location in the UK have also been frozen, such as Apple’s Suspicion, starring Uma Thurman, and Netflix’s second season of The Witcher.
Gearing up! Top Gear is set to resume filming in June
ITV2’s Love Island has already been canceled this summer, thanks to the amorous nature of the production and the travel restrictions in place.
Beyond the summer, autumn stalwarts such as Strictly Come Dancing are still aiming to go ahead, with the likes of Britain’s Got Talent’s live shows said to be pushed past September so as to still include a live audience.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, which airs in late November-early December, is still said to be going ahead, being one of the last recurring shows of the year to take place.
The latest – as reported by The Sun – is that celebrities will be required to fly out to Australia two weeks before they are installed into the jungle, as opposed to the usual couple of days.
Would-be campmates will have to be put into two-week isolation, and have their temperature taken as they land in Down Under, prior to heading into the bush.
‘ITV will continue to say publicly that they are monitoring the situation, but I’ve been told by one of the team that they are cautiously optimistic that it will go ahead,’ a TV source told The Sun.
‘They hope that they’ll be able to go ahead by flying in the cast and crew and quarantining them for 14 days and people signed up for the show have been told to expect a longer stay in Oz – and also a larger cheque.
‘They can’t get any assurances from the Australia authorities that this will be a goer as, quite rightly, they’ve got more important issues on their plate, but the feeling is that it will happen.’
This comes after the BBC’s director of content Charlotte Moore said: ‘We’re exploring ways to re-start filming on more dramas and other major BBC shows as soon as possible.’
She said she hopes to ‘help fire up the engines of British TV production – safely and sensibly’ by June.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, she explained: ‘We’ve been looking very carefully at how we can safely put some of our shows back into production, and I’m pleased to announce that we plan to begin filming again on both EastEnders and Top Gear by the end of next month.’
She added: ‘Of course, we will work within Government guidelines. Crews will be strictly limited. Cast members will do their own hair and make-up. Social distancing will be in place.’
Coronation Street has confirmed that it is in the final stages of a ‘return-to-production protocol’ after filming was suspended to follow COVID-19 regulations.
A representative exclusively told MailOnline: ‘ITV is in the final stages of working with others across the industry on a return-to-production protocol and we are in active discussions with Government on this. We will share further updates in due course.’
The hit ITV soap suspended filming in March to following lockdown and social distancing regulations amid the coronavirus crisis.
Filming: Coronation Street has confirmed that it is in the final stages of a ‘return-to-production protocol’ after filming was suspended to follow COVID-19 regulations
A statement said at the time: ‘ITV has sadly taken the decision to suspend production of the soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale with effect from Monday March 23.
‘We’ve been doing our best to carry on filming, whilst adhering to the Government’s latest health guidelines, to ensure we’ve episodes of both soaps airing on ITV until at least the early summer.
‘However, the health and well-being of the production teams, actors, crew and their families is of paramount importance to us and we now feel that the time has come to stop filming.
‘We’d like to thank our viewers for their support and hope they continue to enjoy both soaps in the coming months.’
As such, the ITV soap confirmed they only had enough episodes to last until the ‘early summer’ with weekly episodes scaled back from seven to three.
It has also been claimed that older soap stars could be banned from set with storylines focusing on younger cast members.
Beloved Coronation Street stars Bill Roache, 88, Barbara Knox, 86, David Neilson, 71, and Sue Nicholls, 76, could be told not to return as it’s ‘too risky’.
ITV boss Kevin Lygo recently confirmed that it’s likely older cast members on Coronation Street and Emmerdale won’t return to set for sometime, saying; ‘I don’t want Ken Barlow to get sick.’
Builders were pictured getting to work on the new £87million EastEnders set in Elstree Studios, London last week.
Aerial photos show Albert Square taking shape, with the structural work of the Queen Vic, terraced houses and garden nearly all complete.
The iconic pub had previously been shrouded in plastic sheeting and scaffolding as work on the building got underway, but the brand new pale brick exterior of the pub is now visible.
Builders were seen working on the back of the terraced houses, which still need windows fitted, while others were pictured inspecting the railway bridge.
Work on the £87million set has continued while the cast and crew are on break.
Under construction: Builders were pictured getting to work on the new £87million EastEnders set in Elstree Studios, London last week
The BBC reduced the number of pre-filmed EastEnders episodes it aired a week to make them last as long as possible.
Controller of BBC drama Piers Wenger previously said the broadcaster hoped to resume filming on soaps ‘as soon as possible’.
He pointed to the example of Australian soap Neighbours, which has resumed filming but with social distancing rules in place and other limitations, including banning kissing on set.
‘We’re not quite at that point yet,’ he said. ‘But all of those conversation are being had and there is a real determination to get that show back up and running.’
Emmerdale announced in March that filming was being suspended to adhere to social distancing and government regulations amid the coronavirus crisis.
A representative declined to comment to MailOnline about what plans are in place for the ITV soap to return to filming and how social distancing measures will be followed on set.
ITV boss Kevin Lygo previously said the soap will remain on screens until the end of May and it’s likely older cast members won’t return to set for sometime, this could include Eric Pollard actor Chris Chittell, 71.
Suspended: Emmerdale announced in March that filming had been suspended to adhere to social distancing and government regulations amid the coronavirus crisis
Like Coronation Street, Emmerdale has scaled back its episodes from seven to three.
Lygo also confirmed that the soap will be ‘adapting’ its pre-written scripts to factor in the COVID-19 crisis. He said: ‘They’re being incredibly inventive and creative about re-jigging storylines.
‘Obviously lots of scripts were written for this period of filming, but they’re adapting some. I think we’ve got to accept there’ll be more “two people talking in a room” type stuff.’
While Broadcast magazine claimed that the ITV soap could be making amendments to sets in a bid to adhere to social distancing with ‘one-way systems’ and ‘perspex screens’ during editing.
The Channel 4 soap is said to have enough episodes to last until the end of July and has scaled back its weekly shows from five to just two.
Director of programming for Channel 4, Ian Katz, said: ‘The coronavirus outbreak is an enormous creative challenge for all broadcasters and though it is having a profound impact on getting some of our productions onto screen, when public service broadcasters like Channel 4 can step up and help people navigate through the extraordinary challenges we all now face.’
While a soap representative added: ‘Dear Hollyoaks viewers. It is with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to pause filming of Hollyoaks. From Monday 30th March, we will be reducing the number of our weekly new episodes from five down to three, which will air Monday to Wednesday.
Social distancing: Hollyoaks announced in March that filming has been suspended to adhere to social distancing and government regulations amid the coronavirus crisis
‘To make sure we stay on air every week night, fans can look forward to extra special episodes every Thursday and Friday on E4. We will remain as present as ever on our social platforms so please keep in touch with us here, stay safe and take care of yourselves. Thank you for your ongoing support.’
They continued: ‘We begin a brand new series of “Hollyoaks Favourites”. Introduced by Kieron Richardson and Jorgie Porter, this series will give viewers a chance to revisit some of our biggest episodes, from weddings, bust-ups, heartbreaks and some of our biggest and best stunts.’
BBC dramas: Peaky Blinders and Line Of Duty
Cast and crew of the two shows will have to ‘maintain a two-metre distance from others, and wash their hands regularly’, reports The Sun.
Peaky Blinders, which sees Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory as its leads and follows a Birmingham crime gang in the 1920s, were yet to start filming series six.
Back to work? Peaky Blinders, which sees Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory as its leads and follows a Birmingham crime gang in the 1920s, were yet to start filming series six
Back to it: Line Of Duty sees Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston (L-R) as its leads in the British police drama
While Line Of Duty, which sees Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar as its leads in the British police drama, suspended its filming in Belfast for season six in March to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations.
A BBC spokesperson said at the time: ‘In light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, the producers Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions of Peaky Blinders Series 6 have postponed filming, and World Productions on Line of Duty Series 6 have suspended filming, both in consultation with and supported by the BBC.
‘We will continue to review all productions on a case-by-case basis and will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and Public Health England.’
ITV entertainment shows: Love Island, I’m A Celebrity and Dancing On Ice
Love Island has been cancelled this summer but ITV bosses are said to be considering reviving the show for the autumn and filming in the Canary Islands.
Kevin Lygo, Director of Television at ITV, said: ‘We have tried every which way to make Love Island this summer but logistically it’s just not possible to produce it in a way that safeguards the wellbeing of everyone involved and that for us is the priority.
‘In normal circumstances we would be preparing very soon to travel out to the location in Mallorca to get the villa ready but clearly that’s now out of the question.
Cancelled: Love Island has been cancelled this summer but ITV bosses are said to be considering reviving the show for the autumn and filming in the Canary Islands (host Laura Whitmore pictured)
‘We are very sorry for fans of the show but making it safely is our prime concern and Love Island will be back stronger than ever in 2021. In the meantime Love Island fans can still enjoy all six series of Love Island on BritBox.’
Host Laura Whitmore weighed in on the cancellation, saying it was the right decision.
She tweeted: ‘Like with a lot of things because of restrictions with travel, social distancing and unable to plan ahead, Love Island is postponed until 2021.
‘Great news is that there have been more applications then any other series! Next year is going to be BIG. Stay safe.’
I’m A Celebrity
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is reportedly set to still go ahead later this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources tell The Sun that show bosses are ‘holding virtual talks’ to plan for the show’s return, as they anticipate a huge response from viewers following the crisis.
A TV source told the paper: ‘ITV are certain lockdown will be well over by the time I’m A Celeb normally starts which is in November.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is reportedly set to still go ahead later this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic (hosts Ant and Dec pictured)
‘Every year it’s a ratings smash and this year will more than likely be even bigger as the public will be desperate for some fresh and uplifting TV.’
Insiders added that ITV has already started ‘hiring and advertising for crew’ in Australia, where I’m A Celebrity is filmed each year, and meetings are being held virtually to discuss potential celebrity campmates.
A representative declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.
Dancing On Ice
Dancing On Ice producers are powering through with plans for the 2021 series, reportedly with a mega budget lining the show’s coffers.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it seems ITV aren’t worried about production going ahead come January next year, and they have their sights set on a slew of big stars to take to the rink.
A source told The Sun: ‘It’s full steam ahead for next year’s show and casting is already well underway. The professional skaters will be meeting potential celebrity partners on the ice next month to see how they pair up.
Big bucks! Dancing On Ice producers are powering through with plans for the 2021 series, reportedly with a mega budget lining the show’s coffers
‘It takes some time to get the celebs up to speed so they’ll spend a lot of time on the ice to make sure they’re definitely keen to go ahead. It’s only after this that they’ll be confirmed. All training will be done safely and with the teams abiding by social distancing rules.
‘ITV have taken a hit like all the broadcasters so they’re pumping cash into the show in a bid to make it a real ratings winner again. The budget for talent has been inflated so they can splash out on a couple of really big names.’
The news directly contradicts The Sun’s previous reports that producers are working on plans in case the show is cancelled after all.
Strictly Come Dancing
It was reported that Strictly Come Dancing could be postponed until next year and broadcast without an audience over social distancing fears.
Yet a BBC representative told MailOnline: ‘We will continue to review all productions on a case by case basis and will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and Public Health England.’
It Takes Two host Zoe Ball is convinced the competition series will air this year. Despite plans still being up in the air, the presenter, 49, has insisted producers will do whatever it takes to get the BBC favourite to return to screens in the coming months.
‘I spoke to some people and they will do anything and everything to make sure that show goes on’, the TV and radio star shared.
The media personality told The Sun: ‘We are in tough times with the Coronavirus but where there is a will, there is away. I feel like they will come through.
A BBC representative told MailOnline: ‘We will continue to review all productions on a case by case basis and will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and Public Health England’ (Strictly Come Dancing judges pictured)
‘Whatever happens with the situation I know that they are going to put that show on somehow. It might not have a studio audience, it might be slightly different.’
Earlier this week, sources claimed Strictly may go ahead this autumn without its usual studio audience cheering on the performers.
Comparing the series to RuPaul’s Drag Race during a virtual production meeting, BBC’s director of content Charlotte Moore said: ‘People think if it is a shiny floor it needs an audience and I don’t think that’s necessarily true.’
The Strictly set-up has included a live audience since the show first aired back in 2004, when it was fronted by Tess Daly and Bruce Forsyth, who retired from the show and was replaced by Claudia Winkleman from 2014.
Bosses are reportedly offering doubled fees to celebrities as they continue to assess show contingency plans amid the global crisis. Sources claimed TV executives are keen for the series ‘to remain the jewel in the BBC’s crown’ and have already put forward contract proposals in a bid to attract a ‘stellar line-up’.