BBC could put actors and crews in long-term isolation together to get shows on air

Coronavirus continues to keep much of the TV industry on hold

Actors, presenters, directors and crew members could be put in quarantine to aid filming for BBC programmes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s one solution offered by Piers Wenger, head of BBC drama commissioning, who said it would enable teams to resume filming of scripted shows including EastEndersStrictly Come Dancing as well as high-end dramas.

Wenger told a virtual session of the Edinburgh television festival [via The Guardian] that the idea of “quarantining actors and crew in order to allow actors to interact in the same space” is being considered by the BBC after the COVID-19 outbreak shut down much of the TV industry.

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Strictly Come Dancing, which is one of the BBC’s most watched programmes, may be held without a studio audience, with the participants put in long-term isolation together while the show is on air.

Eastenders
Credit: BBC

Wenger added that he is aware that asking high-profile stars to commit to longer periods on set would raise the costs of making programmes, but he suggested it could be one of the only ways to get new shows made if social distancing rules remain in place for the rest of 2020.

EastEnders is airing currently by using footage that was shot before the lockdown. Half the number of episodes a week are being shown in order to avoid the show being forced off air.

Wenger said the BBC was also looking at ways to film new episodes with social distancing in place, adding that they have looked at how the Australian television industry is managing. “There are ways of cheating, actors being close enough together to act in a scene, he said. “Neighbours are experimenting with different ways of shooting while social distancing is in place.”

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