Tuesday 12 May 2020 5:29 pm

Boost for broadcasters as filming resumes on film and TV productions

Filming on UK film and TV productions will be allowed to resume from this week as long as social distancing guidelines are observed, the government has confirmed.

Firms had been forced to halt work on productions across the UK after the country was plunged into lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown: Boris Johnson tells millions to get back to work

But the sector will be encouraged to resume filming as part of a gradual easing of restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday urged thousands of workplaces to open up to allow people who cannot work from home to get back to work.

The government has issued so-called Covid-secure guidelines for employers to ensure that Brits are kept safe in the workplace.

This includes redesigning workplaces to ensure the 2m distancing rule is observed, or installing barriers where this is not possible.

However, it is unclear how production teams will be able to apply social distancing rules on set.

While broadcasters have been able to maintain much news and daytime programming through remote working, they will face a far greater challenge in filming dramas.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The government is working closely with the screen sector to understand how different types of productions can comply with social distancing guidelines, and give confidence to people in the TV and film industries that there are safe ways in which they can return to work.”

However, they declined to provide details on how social distancing guidelines would be applied in a broadcast environment.

Nevertheless, the changes come as a welcome boost for broadcasters, which are facing a dearth of new programming due to the lockdown.

In March the BBC was forced to suspend filming on Eastenders and has reduced the number of episodes it broadcasts per week as a result. ITV has also reduced its output of Coronation Street episodes due to the pandemic.

Read more: ITV advertising revenue collapses in April amid Covid-19 crisis

Commercial broadcaster ITV has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19, warning of a 42 per cent slump in advertising revenue in April while also losing major TV hits such as Love Island and Euro 2020.

An ITV spokesperson said the company was working with industry and government on a “return-to-production” protocol and would share further updates in due course.

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