Creative union Bectu weighs in on new industry guidelines for producing TV amid COVID-19

The new advice will be implemented across the entire British television industry

Family watching television, rear view

Creative trade union Bectu commented on a new set of guidelines intended to get the television industry back to work on new programmes.

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Experts from Channel 4, ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 5, STV and ITN have worked on the new document alongside industry bodies COBA and Pact, with external involvement from Dr Paul Litchfield CBE, First Option and the Health and Safety Executive.

It provides guidance on making television of all genres during our current crisis, with a focus on the safety of the cast and crew.

Since the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the film and television industry has been largely shut down, with numerous major productions having to be halted to prevent further spread.

The guidelines highlight key things producers must consider when planning, which include heightening precautions for everyone on set, particularly those at greater risk from coronavirus, while reducing the number of people involved to a minimum.

It also sets out areas that should be at the forefront of risk assessment before going into production, such as travel, location, equipment, activities, work patterns, rest areas, first aid, mental health and PPE.

As a large number of people working in film and television are freelancers, the effect that coronavirus has had on the industry has been of huge concern as it puts their livelihood in peril.

Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, told RadioTimes.com: “These high-level guidelines will provide freelancers who are desperate to return to work, but have concerns about their health and wellbeing some reassurance that the industry is working together to achieve a balanced approach.

“Bectu is working across many fronts to ensure that people are able to return to work as safely as possible. The TV Production Guidance is clearly a framework and the detail of how each production operates will be absolutely crucial.”

She added: “Bectu is committed to ensuring that careful attention is paid to the overall wellbeing of crew, not just the COVID-19 risk. As working patterns change and adapt broadcasters and indies must be mindful of the potential of longer working hours and additional mental pressure on the people involved in the production, which we highlighted in the discussions for these guidelines.”

The industry-wide document is available to read in full online via Channel 4’s website.

Oliver Dowden MP, Culture Secretary, said: “Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe. Our creative industries are Britain’s global calling card and this is a significant step forward in getting our favourite shows back into production.”

The announcement of these guidelines follows reports that certain shows, including Top Gear and EastEnders, are looking to resume filming next month.

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