We may have grown used to (some of) the seismic changes the pandemic has caused, but when the world first went into lockdown back in 2020, nobody could have guessed we would still be dealing with the coronavirus’s aftermath more than a year later.
That was certainly the case for the many TV series and films which had to halt production, including Netflix’s The Irregulars. The unusual Sherlock adaptation puts a fantasy spin on the Victorian detective, focusing instead on a gang of street youths hired by the sleuth and sidekick Watson to help them tackle supernatural crime.
RadioTimes.com sat down for a (virtual) chat with The Irregulars cast in which they revealed how the pandemic affected filming. Especially since, like most of us, they only thought they would be away for a couple of weeks.
“We were two weeks away from wrap, on the entire show and we got stood down as a precautionary thing,” Thaddea Graham, who plays Bea, said. “And they said you know, everyone go home for two weeks and we’ll see you soon. So I packed my bags, went home for two weeks thinking ‘I’ll be back soon’ – six months later, I was like ‘I haven’t got enough clothes, what the hell happened to two weeks?'”
The show’s very own Sherlock Holmes, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, had a very unique experience with lockdown haircuts. He explained: “I had to keep shaving my head, you know, in my garden with clippers to try and not grow out of my Sherlock buzz cut.”
Eventually they did come back – in fact they were one of the first productions in the UK to do so – but they still had their epic final sequence to finish. When asked whether COVID-19 forced them to make some changes to the big finale, Graham said: “I think the bulk of it was there. I think there are some scenes where we maybe cut down on the amount of crowd we would need.”
Lloyd-Hughes added: “There’s one close up where I think my neck is a little bit thicker. Thanks to Joe Wicks’ PE. I said to my wife as we were watching the preview link, ‘did my neck get a bit thicker’?”
Royce Pierreson (Dr John Watson) also had some trouble with his hair and beard continuity. “That was a tricky thing for me, hair and beard continuity was a killer,” he said. “I’ve never had to think about it, and for such a long period of time.
Of course, the actors had to work with the addition of PPE and strict safety measures to ensure filming could go ahead. Lloyd-Hughes stated: “It speaks volumes to the kind of ingenuity and the determination to get the ball across the line, for every single department to be like ‘OK, we’re going to go back, it’s going to take four times as long or whatever to do exactly the same amount of material.’ And people did it. People did it with a smile on their face.”
“Well, they were wearing masks so we wouldn’t know that,” Pierreson pointed out.
Series creator Tom Bidwell explained that it had been “possibly the longest post-production I’ve ever been in. But it’s been a treat as well because you know, during this pandemic, which everyone’s had challenges with their own way, I’ve been allowed to delve into this exciting world and disappear into that.”