Soaps are rising to the challenge of filming within strict new health and safety guidelines, and Coronation Street are leading the way by planning their first post-pandemic stunt with a car crash set to cause chaos on the cobbles over the summer.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on 10th June, producer Iain MacLeod divulged details of the spectacular set piece currently in the pipeline, with the ambitious announcement coming days after the soap resumed production for the first time since lockdown.
“We are embarking on our first post-pandemic car stunt fairly quickly now we’re back,” he teased. “It’s two characters in vehicular jeopardy who will look as if they are right on top of each other and touching, but actually it will be shot with nobody within two metres of the other.
“A lot of thought is going on right now about how you achieve that mind-bendingly difficult thing. There will be some cheating, fore example we’ll make it look like ‘Character A’ is in front of a vehicle and knocked over by ‘Character B’, but with no proximity between the actors or stunt performers at all. There are ways of making it look like as if there is physical contact.”
Actors being more than the requisite two metres apart – with a retractable pole in use on set – is one of the many new requirements enforced by social distancing and safety regulations, acknowledged by MacLeod as the hardest obstacle to navigate in the new normal.
“How on earth do you make a programme about social interactions, romance, people punching each other by adhering to social distancing? It’s been incredibly challenging.
“We’ve stripped everything back to what soap originated with: brilliant dialogue played by an exceptionally talented cast. Hopefully it will be just as good but just a bit different.”
Phasing back to work now ensures Coronation Street, and ITV counterpart Emmerdale, can continue airing without a transmission break, having returned to filming ahead of episodes completed pre-lockdown running out.
The BBC has confirmed EastEnders goes off air after 16th June, with no confirmed date set for it to resume production other than it being later this month. Cameras start rolling again on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks in July, the same month they are due to run out of pre-lockdown material. It is expected, although not officially confirmed, the soap will go on a transmission break before new episodes start broadcasting in September.