As the world collectively eyes a path back to normal life, UK broadcasters have announced a new slate of guidelines to resume filming on television without a 2-metre separation.
Social distancing measures have made conventional scripted television programmes near-impossible to make, with socially distanced substitutes like Isolation Stories, Staged and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads becoming the norm.
However, if the film and television industry is to bounce back, broadcasters will require methods of producing high-budget popular shows including the recently-delayed Line of Duty and Peaky Blinders.
BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, STV and ITN have collaborated on a five-page document outlining how productions will operate, where people “unavoidably need to be in close contact with each other.”
The guidance states that small groups of people, including both cast and crew members, will form “cohorts” that allow them to spend a minimal amount of time in close contact.
They will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and will be expected to follow social distancing measures throughout their daily life, when not working with their specific cohort.
Assessments will be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether any additional precautions should be adopted by cohort members.
The document is available to read here and will be implemented alongside the previously published framework, TV Production Guidance: Managing The Risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Production Making.
A BBC spokesperson told Variety: “Getting TV production back up and running safely is our priority. The BBC has already produced popular shows during lockdown following social distancing – from Have I Got News For You to Talking Heads.
“But, if we are to get back to producing the range and quality of programs that the public love which reflect real life interactions, we are going to need to film scenes and shows where people are closer than two metres apart.”
“There will be increased screening for these groups, alongside daily symptom checks and close contact periods would be restricted on set. Close contact groups will be asked to follow social distancing rules during the time between an antigen test and their arrival on set, as well as observing social distancing in their daily life during the filming period.
“We will keep this advice under review if the situation changes.”
There are a vast number of high-profile films and television shows that are currently on hold partway through production, prompting concern over creative industry jobs and programming shortages.
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