BBC One Daytime to explore lockdown in Letherbridge as the cast of Doctors film special episode from home
I wanted to capture the strange times we are experiencing. The very specific demands of producing an episode of this nature was a challenge for everyone involved… it was a real team effort!Peter Lloyd, series producer
Because the Mill is open to patients throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the characters continue to work during lockdown. Therefore these scenes are set in the evening, when remote meetings are held, phone calls are made and even counselling takes place.
As always everyone is working incredibly hard, but audiences soon discover the harsh realities faced by the characters, who suffer from inevitable anxiety and fear, withdraw from the world, and even (in one case) dramatically develop symptoms of the virus.
BBC Studios Series Producer Peter Lloyd thought of the concept during the first week of lockdown, and the episode took a total of three weeks to complete - from the storyline to final edit - with production working remotely to ensure the cast could shoot a full episode in only five days.
Peter explains the decisions behind the commissioning and production of the episode: "I wanted to capture the strange times we are experiencing and present it to our audience. The very specific demands of producing an episode of this nature was a challenge for everyone involved, especially the cast as they were acting straight to camera, with only my voice performing all the other characters so that certainly required a lot of imaginative work on their part. It was a real team effort!"
Mike Hobson, BBC Studios Executive Producer, says: "We’re never afraid to push the format on Doctors, as our loyal viewers know, but this episode has been a challenge of a very different kind. To turn it around at this speed has meant coming up with new ways of working and totally rethinking how to make the programme.
"I’m incredibly proud of the work everyone has put into this episode, especially our brilliant cast who have had to learn new skills, while still giving outstanding performances."
Carla-Maria Lawson, Head of BBC Daytime and Early Peak, says: "Doctors recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and this unique episode demonstrates why the programme continues to innovate, and remains so popular with viewers. I think lockdown has presented challenges for everyone but it’s been wonderful to see the ingenuity within the creative sector and I’m delighted that Doctors is the first British continuing drama series to bring this very exciting format to fans."
The production ensured strict social distancing rules were complied with both on and off screen.
The lockdown episode will air on Friday 12 June at 1.45pm on BBC One.