Neighbours is believed to be the first suspended TV drama in the English-speaking world to go back into production when it recommences filming next week.
The Melbourne-set soap has been given the green light to begin shooting again after Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison eased restrictions and said the country is on the “road to recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing rules will still be in place on the Neighbours set, with cast and crew split into groups in separate areas. No physical contact such as kissing and hugging will be allowed, and crew members will appear in the background of scenes instead of extras.
Male actors will also wear no make-up, and female actors will not have their make-up touched up.
According to ABC, “camera trickery” will be used to make actors – who must stand 1.5 metres apart according to social distancing rules – look closer together than they are.
“There will be no more than 100 people a day in any area, we’ll implement the four-square-metre rule and the one-and-a-half-metre social distancing rule,” Fremantle Australia chief executive Chris Oliver-Taylor said.
“We’re going to assume if someone does get sick we don’t need to shut the entire shoot – we just close that group and carry on.”
British fans of the show, which halted filming in late March, will see the new episodes on Channel 5 in approximately 12 weeks’ time.
“It’s going to look a bit odd,” said Oliver-Taylor. “[But] Neighbours is a show that can get away with it.
“We employ hundreds of staff who want to work and feel they can. It’s important we continue to produce a show that reaches millions of people in the UK and a significant audience in Australia.”
In the UK, EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty halted production on 18 March, while Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks stopped filming on 23 March.
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