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Russell Tovey to star in new virtual play about coronavirus frontline workers

No Masks is based on real-life testimony from key workers.

Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey and The Crown actress Lorraine Ashbourne are among the stars set to feature in a new virtual play depicting key workers in the current coronavirus pandemic.


Titled No Masks, the Sky original production will draw on real-life testimonies from frontline staff across East London in recent months.

While Tovey (Years and Years) will play policeman Noel, Ashbourne (who played Barbara Castle in Netflix’s royal drama) is scheduled to portray Linda, a palliative care nurse.

Russell Tovey says: “No Masks was an amazing reintroduction into the world of acting and filming again with a crew.

“It’s a dynamic and thoughtful piece, packed with all the stories and drama of our current climate, told through the words of people that are vital in making a difference on the front line.”

The one-off hour special will also star Anya Chalotra (The Witcher) as a junior doctor, Anna Calder-Marshall (Harlots) as an elderly lady and Eamonn Walker (Chicago Fire) as a care worker.

Penned by playwrights Nadia Fall and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the imagined narratives in No Masks will be a “testament to the dedication of key workers during the COVID crisis as well as an exploration of our shared hopes and fears”.

The No Masks project first began in April 2020, with a call for workers to submit their stories. These testimonies are available to read now on the Theatre Royal Stratford East website.

Fall, artistic director of Stratford East, said: “While our physical doors are shut our creative mission is to give a voice to those on the frontline and to bring people together.

“We hope this project will be both life-affirming and a moving reality check of what everyday people are living through at this extraordinary time.

The film will be aired on Sky Arts this September, the channel being available to view to all on Freeview and Freesat. No Masks will also be available to watch on streaming service NOW TV.


Sign up for a seven-day free trial of NOW TV’s Entertainment Pass, autorenews at £8.99 a month until 31st August 2020, £9.99 thereafter unless cancelled. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.