Coronation Street cast members over the age of 70 are currently not allowed on set as part of the soap’s phased return to post-pandemic production, but show bosses have hinted fans may still see the likes of cobbles legends Ken Barlow, Audrey Roberts and Rita Sullivan.
Explaining how the absence of older characters will be addressed on screen, producer Iain MacLeod revealed that, due to the sheer number of vulnerable category veteran performers in the ensemble, there would not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
“In some cases we will tell a story that accounts for it,” he said at a virtual press conference last week as the soap resumed filming with strict safety and social-distancing guidelines in place. “In others we’ll imagine they’re upstairs, self-isolating off screen and the camera just isn’t on them.
“It has provided opportunities for interesting stories. Have we considered having the vulnerable cast on a Zoom call filmed in their own homes? The answer to that is yes. We’re keen to keep as many of our wonderful characters on screen as we can. We need to keep sight of them, they’re very well loved.
“We are taking advantage of the post-pandemic new normal such as video calling. We’re definitely accessing that, and it’s an interesting challenge. Plans are afoot in that regard.
“There are talented people who can’t be in the building at the moment, but we will see them as much as we can for the viewers’ sake as they miss them.”
Corrie confirmed the absence of older actors, and crew members, shortly before filming resumed on 9th June, and announced individual risk assessments would be undertaken later down the line to ascertain when it was safe for them to return.
Child actors are also not permitted for the time being for health and safety reasons, meaning stock footage of Leanne Battersby and Steve McDonald’s young son Oliver will be edited into scenes, as the storyline of the three-year-old being diagnosed with mitochondrial disease continues.
Maureen Lipman, who plays Evelyn Plummer, suggested in an interview with the Jewish News Podcast she could film herself in character in a garden at a two-metre distance from co-star David Neilson, aka Roy Cropper, as they live near each other in London.
When the pandemic starts being acknowledged in Corrie, could we see Ken video calling from his bedroom as Tracy nips out to get supplies from Dev’s shop? Maybe remind her to pick up his copy of The Guardian and some Early Grey tea bags? Will Audrey be providing online classes on how to colour your own hair to her clients?
Maybe Emily Bishop’s virtual appearance last October to wish Ken happy birthday was the start of a new trend…