BBC could ‘quarantine’ staff to resume filming


The BBC has suggested it may need to “quarantine” actors and production crews if it wanted to restart television production.

Most of the television production industry was forced to shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, which could potentially leave large gaps in broadcasters’ schedules if they are unable to resume filming soon.

But, speaking in a virtual session of the Edinburgh TV Festival yesterday, BBC controller of drama commissioning Piers Wenger said the organisation was looking into how it might resume filming safely.

“We’re going to want to start making new drama. Are we going to start quarantining actors and crew to allow them to interact in the same space? Who knows, it’s such an evolving picture,” he said.

Wenger said he is “determined to get EastEnders back on screen as soon as production can be safely resumed” but gave no date for when this is likely to happen.

He suggested that people may have to spend longer on set if social distancing rules, in some form, remained in place for the rest of this year.

He indicated that television production companies in other countries had begun filming while  observing social distancing. For example, Australian soap Neighbours had been experimenting with different ways of filming.

Another popular programme that is likely to be affected is Strictly Come Dancing. Kate Phillips, BBC entertainment controller, said the programme – which normally airs in the Autumn – may have to be filmed without a studio audience.

Phillips said: “Inevitably, things will have to change. That is absolutely one of our big priorities, making sure we can bring you a great Strictly. But I think inevitably things are going to change. Social distancing will be in place for a long time.”

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