Entertainment & Arts

Neighbours: Australian soap to resume filming after Covid-19 shutdown

Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne as Carl and Susan Kennedy in Neighbours Image copyright PA
Image caption Karl and Susan Kennedy are two of the soap's longest-serving characters

Australian soap opera Neighbours is going back into production after the Covid-19 shutdown.

Social distancing rules will still be in place, with cast and crew split into groups in separate areas on set.

No physical contact like kissing will be allowed, and extras will not be used. Instead, crew members will appear in the background.

Australia's prime minister has said the country is on the road to recovery, with new infections almost stamped out.

Neighbours producers Fremantle Australia stopped filming as the virus spread last month, and Australians were told there must be only one person per four square metres at gatherings.

Camera trickery

According to ABC, the Neighbour's studio will be split into "quadrants" when filming resumes next week.

Camera trickery will be used to make physically-distanced actors look closer than they are, ABC reported.

"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."

A production team member told the BBC that everyone entering the site would also have their temperatures checked.

The changes should be seen on UK screens in about 12 weeks' time. The soap, which began in 1985, is aired on Channel 5 in the UK.

What's happening with British soaps?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andy Whyment said Corrie has enough episodes in the can to last until July

Coronation Street and Emmerdale stopped filming on 23 March, with only three episodes per week airing since 30 March rather than the usual six.

Earlier this week, Andy Whyment, who plays Kirk in Coronation Street, told the United podcast: "I think we've got until the beginning of July in the can."

And Melanie Hill, who plays Cathy Matthews in the ITV soap, told WTAF - A This Country Podcast producers are hoping to resume filming in groups that are "as small as possible".

The BBC announced it was suspending filming of EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors, Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm and Scottish drama River City on 18 March.

The number of EastEnders episodes being screened was cut from four to two per week.

BBC Radio 4's The Archers was also suspended on 18 March but since then, they have been working on producing the serial from home.

However, on Saturday it was announced it will broadcast archive episodes because new material is taking longer than expected to produce.

Channel 4's Hollyoaks also stopped filming on 23 March and dropped to three episodes a week.

TV critic Scott Bryan told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Pretty much all TV soaps have been on hiatus and I think all TV producers are starting to think, right how do we continue?"

He said it was unclear whether Neighbours would work the coronavirus crisis into the storylines.

"A lot of other production companies around the world are going to be looking very closely, because if Neighbours are able to pull it off, then of course some other shows can.

"But we can't expect [shows like] Line of Duty to be back up and filming if all of the actors are going to be 2m apart from each other."

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