Coronation Street’s Shelley King on soaps’ future post lockdown: “We have to rethink the way we make drama”

How will the UK's favourite shows manage with potential new rules?

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Coronation Street star Shelley King has spoken about her character’s high-profile storyline being interrupted after by filming was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the potential changes to working conditions once the soap resumes production.

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Viewers have been gripped by Yasmeen Metcalfe’s coercive abuse at the hands of husband Geoff Metcalfe (Ian Bartholomew) which saw her fight back and stab him during a heated struggle in last Friday’s episode.

The fallout of the attack will unfold in the coming weeks, but with Corrie having completed enough episodes to keep on air until early summer – even with halving the amount shown in a week – fans can expect a pause in the proceedings at some point in the near future.

In an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com, King revealed how the abuse storyline was impacted by the enforced production shutdown.

“We were right in the middle of it before we were interrupted,” she said. “And we were about to go into filming some really difficult stuff. We hope to start up again soon, maybe mid-June, but might be filming in a different way if we want to acknowledge we are living in this time now. We’ll have just have to see.

“We might have to rethink the way we make soaps, or drama of any kind.”

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ITV confirmed filming was on pause for Corrie and Emmerdale shortly before the government lockdown was declared on 23rd March 2020. BBC flagship soap EastEnders were first to take the decision a few days before, and C4’s Hollyoaks the last.

Depending on how restrictions are eased in the coming weeks, the soaps may be back in business in June or July, but potentially with new social-distancing measures in place which could impact how the programmes are made.

It’s since been confirmed Coronation Street will tackle the topic of coronavirus, as it’s hard not too. But boss MacLeod has promised covid won’t “dominate”.

It is also not known at this stage how the show’s will acknowledge the inevitable sudden absence from screens, which could be weeks or months, and what rewriting will be necessary of scripts completed pre-lockdown and the future direction of storylines already planned.

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Australian soap Neighbours recently started up again after shutting down for a few weeks with a range of new rules in place, including a ban on kissing scenes and hand-holding, reduced make-up for the cast, along with camera trickery employed to make actors look as if they are standing closer together than they actually are.

Speaking to ABC AU Fremantle Media’s chief executive Chris-Oliver Taylor said, “It’s going to look a bit odd. [But] Neighbours is a show that can get away with it.

“We employ hundreds of staff who want to work and feel they can. It’s important we continue to produce a show that reaches millions of people in the UK and a significant audience in Australia.”

Visit our dedicated Coronation Street page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.