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Coronation Street is back in business! Cast and crew RETURN to cobbles

Coronation Street is back in business! Cast and crew RETURN to the cobbles to resume filming after 3-month COVID-19 lockdown break… as stars shoot scenes stood 2 metres apart and cameramen stay out of reach to adhere to TV’s social distancing rules

  • Coronation Street is the UK’s longest-running soap – and halted production in March when the UK went into lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The TV industry is slowly resuming production, but social distancing measures must be enforced
  • Despite this, it’s been said by Corrie bosses that coronavirus will not dominate the forthcoming storylines
  • Sets have been taped-off, keeping the cast on one side and the crew on the other
  • In somewhat bizarre behind-the-scenes images released by ITV, the stars were seen interacting on the cobbles of Coronation Street, but standing carefully apart
  • In addition, those not in the scenes were spotted wearing protective face masks, with camera crew keeping way back, and producers watching the action from monitors out of the way
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Coronation Street’s cast and crew have returned to work – stepping foot on the famous set for the first time in almost three months.

Production on the UK’s longest-running soap opera was halted at the end of March, when TV shows across the world began to shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ITV’s other veteran soap Emmerdale, as well as BBC’s EastEnders and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, all ceased filming while the UK went into lockdown, with broadcasts slots reduced and fears that networks would run out of new episodes.

Back in action! Coronation Street’s cast and crew have returned to work – stepping foot on the famous set for the first time in almost three months

But the cobbles were back in business on Wednesday, with actors and production staff returning to the dormant sound stages and iconic Weatherfield neighbourhood, which is situated close to Manchester.

Under the television industry’s return-to-work rules, cast and crew kept away from one another, filming scenes with the UK’s continued 2 meter social distance rule in place.

Despite this, it’s been said by Corrie bosses that coronavirus will not dominate the forthcoming storylines. However, kissing scenes will be banned in accordance with the on-set rules.

In somewhat bizarre behind-the-scenes images released by ITV, the stars were seen interacting on the cobbles of Coronation Street, but standing carefully apart from each other. 

Keeping their distance: Production on the UK’s longest-running soap opera was halted at the end of March, when TV shows across the world began to shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic – but things are starting to take shape once again

Moving on: It’s been said by Corrie bosses that coronavirus will not dominate the forthcoming storylines

The new normal: The cobbles were back in business on Wednesday, with actors and production staff returning to the dormant sound stages and iconic Weatherfield neighbourhood

2 metre rule: Under the television industry’s return-to-work rules, cast and crew kept away from one another

Far, far away: Those on set are filming scenes with the UK’s continued 2 meter social distance rule in place

Similarly, camera operators kept back, and directors, producers and production assistance appeared few and far between. 

In addition, those not in the scenes were spotted wearing protective face masks, keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Despite rules still stringently in force in the UK when it comes to the public’s indoor interaction, the cast and crew were back on interior sets, returning to the familiar household sound-stages of Corrie’s residents.

Cast were seen in their ‘homes’, while camera crew kept way back, and producers watched the action from monitors out of the way. 

Alternate reality: In somewhat bizarre behind-the-scenes images released by ITV, the stars were seen interacting on the cobbles of Coronation Street, but standing carefully apart from each other

From afar: Similarly, camera operators kept back, and directors, producers and production assistance appeared few and far between

Protecting each other: Those not in the scenes were spotted wearing protective face masks, keeping COVID-19 at bay

You can go home again: Despite rules still stringently in force in the UK when it comes to the public’s indoor interaction, the cast and crew were back on interior sets

Familiar territory: The actors were seen back on the iconic household sound-stages of Corrie’s residents

Tape is being used to cordon off the sets, keeping actors and crew apart from one another, strictly implementing on-screen and off-screen spaces.

The taped-off sets were vaguely reminiscent of a police-protected crime scene as the staff of the show got back to work under the new-normal conditions.

Backstage, script supervisors and wardrobe and make-up artists were seen perched on chairs, carefully set away from each other, no doubt glad to be back to work regardless.

The entrances of the Corrie studios and sets also have a series of signs displayed, enforcing social distancing upon arrival. 

Cordoned off: Cast were seen in their ‘homes’, while camera crew kept way back, and producers watched the action from monitors out of the way

Separated: Tape is being used to cordon off the sets, keeping actors and crew apart from one another, strictly implementing on-screen and off-screen spaces

On and off-screen: Backstage, script supervisors and wardrobe and make-up artists were seen perched on chairs, carefully set away from each other, no doubt glad to be back to work regardless

New safety measures have been put in place at ITV studios including medical screening, safe-distance queuing and ambulances on set amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The channel’s Health and Safety team and medical advisers have been working closely with the government to consult on social distancing guidelines to ensure the team are working in accordance with return-to-production protocols.

ITV also revealed that they would not have any shoots on location, while scripts have been adapted to include fewer scenes and a small number of actors so that the cameras don’t need to be moved on a regular basis.

Socially-distanced: ITV’s other veteran soap Emmerdale, as well as BBC’s EastEnders and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, all ceased filming while the UK went into lockdown

Worries: After things shut down, there were fears that networks would run out of new episodes

Lights, camera, action! Corrie’s transmission slots have been reduced while things have taken a break

Good to be back: The famous street is situated close to Manchester, both in real-life and on the series

Stars such as Michael Le Vell, Sally Dynevor and Alexandra Mardell were spotted arriving at the set to get back to work this week. Michael was seen arriving at the set on Monday with Sally and Harry where they were met with security guards wearing face masks.

As the actors return to filming, the plan is to make enough shows to continue airing three episodes a week to ensure the soap remains on-screen in July.

ITV bosses previously confirmed that older cast members will be kept at home during the first few weeks of filming. 

Cast and crew over the age of 70, or with an underlying health condition, will be kept at home during the early stages.

CSI? The taped-off sets were reminiscent of a police-protected crime scene

Re-lighting: The sets have been in darkness for weeks on end

Back on location: Stars Michael Le Vell (pictured), Sally Dynevor and Alexandra Mardell were spotted arriving at the set for another day of shooting on Wednesday

Exciting: The ITV soap has resumed filming after production was halted (Sally Dynevor pictured)

This may be sad news for soap fans, as cast members who fall into that age bracket include William Roache (who plays Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner), Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts) and Maureen Lipman (Evelyn Plummer). 

It has been reported that older stars may still appear via video calls, with a source telling Talk TV: ‘Bosses know just how important these characters are to their millions of fans. And who wouldn’t love to see the likes of Ken, Evelyn and Roy taking part in a Zoom quiz night?

‘Or Tracy calling her dad and telling him how much she misses him. There are good ways to do it and that’s what they’re looking into at the moment.’ 

Actor Andy Whyment recently shared a picture of new scripts, having been sent them in the post. Taking to his Instagram page, he penned: ‘New scripts EXCITED!’

Stylish: Alexandra, 26, who plays Emma Brooker, made a glamorous arrival in her baby blue MINI Cooper


Co-stars: The trio were also joined by co-stars (L-R) Sally Carman (Abi Franklin) and Harry Visinoni (Seb Franklin) at the Manchester studios

No kissing! Andrew Whyment, pictured as Kirk Sutherland, has revealed that kissing scenes will be banned in accordance with new social distancing measures

Secret: The star also shared a picture of new soap scripts to his Instagram on Tuesday, he penned: ‘New scripts EXCITED’ with smiley faces and a thumbs up emoji

Earlier this month, Emmerdale became the first British soap to resume filming after production was halted.

Actor Danny Miller opened up about what it’s like to film scenes under the new guidelines, saying that at times it had been ‘difficult’.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Lorraine, the Aaron Dingle actor also described himself and co-star Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle) as ‘guinea pigs’ after being the first cast members to begin filming the unique episodes.

Last month it was revealed that Emmerdale’s production team had recorded six new episodes using a pared back crew at the show’s studios in Leeds, with stories focused on characters in lockdown.

ITV confirmed that social distancing measures and safety protocols were put into place and strictly adhered to by the team, with the episodes being recorded over a two-week period.


‘Too risky’: Cast and crew over the age of 70, or with an underlying health condition, will be kept at home during the early stages (pictured: Ken Barlow’s Bill Roache, 88, left, and Audrey Roberts actress Sue Nicholls, 76, right) 

Guinea pigs: Earlier this month, Emmerdale became the first British soap to resume filming after production was halted. Actor Danny Miller opened up about what it’s like to film scenes under the new guidelines, saying that at times it had been ‘difficult’. He described himself and co-star Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle) as ‘guinea pigs’ after being the first cast members to return

One of the episodes include a two-hander between Cain and nephew Aaron, with Cain struggling over his feelings for estranged wife Moira, while Aaron becomes angered after his uncle hides a letter by his imprisoned husband Robert Sugden.

Discussing the filming and how it differs from their usual work, Danny explained: ‘The distance obviously is different. We’re having to abide by rules and stay 2 metres apart. Believe it or not, it’s a lot more difficult for us to just do the everyday work because on top of that we’re in charge of cleaning and looking after our own props.

‘The distance thing between television is kind of unsaid realise because you don’t realise how close you get to the director when you show them your scripts and suddenly you’re there.

‘So there was people who was put in place to kind of be there and ensure that we didn’t get carried away and suddenly face to face. It was difficult, a lot different obviously.

Changes: Discussing the filming and how it differs from their usual work, Danny explained – ‘The distance obviously is different. We’re having to abide by rules and stay 2 metres apart’

He added: ‘Believe it or not, it’s a lot more difficult for us to just do the everyday work because on top of that we’re in charge of cleaning and looking after our own props’

Meanwhile, the star opened up on making sure they adhered to the rules while filming, telling Lorraine Kelly: ‘Jeff and I were used as guinea pigs if you like. We were very nervous to do this anyway. Not only do you have to keep yourself safe by keeping your distance but make sure you have to make sure you’re keeping everyone else safe too.’

Elsewhere, with both Cain and Aaron having been forced to confront their feelings over their other halves, Danny praised the ITV soap for highlighting the importance of men opening up about their feelings.

He said: ‘The whole lockdown experience and what we’re going through is encouraging us all to do that. I think Emmerdale are very good at picking out the topical stories and kind of creating them into the norm. 

Filming: Meanwhile, the star opened up on making sure they adhered to the rules while filming, telling Lorraine Kelly – ‘Jeff and I were used as guinea pigs if you like’

‘Cain and Aaron are two characters in Emmerdale who stereotypically in this world that we live in wouldn’t want top talk to each other, and are two alpha males – beer and fighting an all that kind of talk that they do.’

He continued: ‘But when it comes to the aspect of talking, it’s completely different. Aaron is a lot more acceptable and receptive of talking about his feelings whereas Cain isn’t. And myself suffering with anxiety and depression, it’s amazing how a) I was very pleased to be part of it and b) that Emmerdale were tipping their hat to mental health.’

Meanwhile, Jeff appeared on Loose Women where he also discussed the lockdown episodes.

Speaking to the panel, he said: ‘What’s great about this episode is that they have this journey to go on. Our episode was a well-crafted episode and was a joy for Danny and I to work on.

Chat: Meanwhile, Jeff Hordley who plays Cain Dingle also appeared on Loose Women on Wednesday, where he also discussed the lockdown episodes

Back at it: ‘Even when you go on holiday, you come back and you’re a little bit rusty. I felt particularly rusty, felt like I was really ‘acting’ which was first few scenes’

‘Again in these times, it’s about trying to find positives and negatives. Because of these restrictions of these episodes, it’s less event based stuff, so there’s no car crashes or things like that. It’s going back to the ‘kitchen sink’ drama which is what people love.’

The star also joked that he almost forgot how to act after months away from filming due to lockdown restrictions. 

He added: ‘Even when you go on holiday, you come back and you’re a little bit rusty. I felt particularly rusty, felt like I was really ‘acting’ which was first few scenes. But then it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget it.’

Previously speaking about the lockdown episodes, Executive producer Jane Hudson said: ‘Lockdown has created an opportunity for us to focus on what is important in our lives.

‘When we first discussed commissioning these episodes back in March the writers instantly rose to the challenge.

It’s back: Emmerdale became the first British soap to resume filming with a ‘phased return’ starting with six new episodes featuring characters in lockdown

Precautions: The channel’s Health and Safety team and medical advisers have been working closely with the government to consult on social distancing guidelines

‘Seven weeks into lockdown and the scripts have an added poignancy and meaning. The response from everyone at Emmerdale to filming these episodes has been fantastic and we’re really grateful for their support.’

While John Whiston – Managing Director of Continuing Drama for ITV Studios and Head of ITV in the North – added: ‘It’s brilliant that Jane and the team at Emmerdale have risen to the challenge of getting these episodes shot using the new protocols for filming drama while observing the government’s social distancing guidelines.

Directed by Ian Bevitt, the six new episodes focus on Cain and Aaron (Jeff Hordley and Danny Miller), Chas and Paddy (Lucy Pargeter and Dominic Brunt), Sam and Lydia (James Hooton and Karen Blick), Marlon, Al and Ellis (Mark Charnock, Michael Wildman and Aaron Anthony), Mandy and Vinny (Lisa Riley and Bradley Johnson), and Jimmy and Nicola (Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler).

ITV teased the episodes will see ‘resentments and past feuds resurface, old wounds further exposed, relationships scrutinised, with doubts and insecurities laid bare’, with a hint of romance. 

BRITISH SOAPS ARE GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS…

EastEnders

EastEnders are reportedly set to go off air on June 16, having aired all their episodes before production shut down.

An insider said talks about when the cast and crew will return are still ‘ongoing’.

Charlotte Moore, the broadcaster’s director of content, said last month that EastEnders would be up and running again within weeks.

Writing in The Telegraph, she said: ‘We’ve been looking carefully at how we can safely put some of our shows back into production, and I’m pleased to announce that we plan to begin filming again on both EastEnders and Top Gear by the end of June.’

Actor Scott Maslen, who plays Jack Branning on the soap, admitted in May that he was still waiting to hear when production would resume.

Builders were pictured getting to work on the new £87million set in Elstree Studios, London, last month.

Return to Walford? EastEnders are set to go off air on June 16, having aired all their episodes before production shut down and will resume filming next month (Steve McFadden pictured)

Hollyoaks

Hollyoaks bosses have announced production crew will return to the set in Liverpool in mid-June and filming will resume in full from July. 

The Channel 4 show, which is currently airing two nights a week, will then increase its output to four episodes a week from September with an aim to return to its full five episodes a week in 2021.

In recent days, Hollyoaks has been subject to off-camera scrutiny, after actresses Rachel Adedeji and Laila Rouass accused show bosses of racism and sexism.

This led to production company Lime Pictures releasing a statement which read:  ‘Lime Pictures strives to have zero tolerance of racism or any form of discrimination across all of its shows but it is clear we have further work to do. We must stamp out implicit bias which means calling out racism wherever and whenever we see it.  

‘We will continue to add to our action plan as we continue and broaden our dialogue with cast and staff. We are reaching out to all of our cast and staff that have raised matters to make sure that we address individual issues and concerns. We have asked all cast, staff and freelancers to share with us any further issues of concern or instances of unacceptable behaviour that they have not previously raised.

‘We are working with unconscious bias trainers to augment Lime’s all staff training to help address concerns raised by cast and staff. All BAME staff, freelancers and cast will be offered mentoring from Lime’s senior management.’  

New beginning: Hollyoaks bosses have announced they will start filming again this month in Liverpool and will fully return to set in July

Emmerdale 

Emmerdale has already started filming again, with a small cast and crew returning to production in late May.

The soap has begun a phased return in order to minimise risk of infection at the studio while the outdoor set has been revamped.

New safety measures have been put in place at ITV studios including medical screening, safe-distance queuing and ambulances on set amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The channel’s Health and Safety team and medical advisers have been working closely with the government to consult on social distancing guidelines to ensure the team are working in accordance with return-to-production protocols. 

ITV also revealed that they would not have any shoots on location, while scripts have been adapted to include fewer scenes and a small number of actors so that the cameras don’t need to be moved on a regular basis. 

First ones back: Emmerdale has already started filming again, with a small cast and crew returning to production in late May 

Coronation Street 

Cast returned to set on June 9 to produce new episodes, with a plan to make enough shows to continue airing three episodes a week to ensure the soap remains on-screen in July.

ITV bosses also confirmed that older cast members will be kept at home during the first few weeks of filming, with star Andy Whyment revealing that kissing scenes will be banned in accordance with new social distancing measures.

Coronation Street bosses confirmed that the soap’s production team began a health and safety induction to familiarise themselves with the new protocols that are now in place throughout the studios and on set. 

Crew have also begun preparations to ensure filming will resume as scheduled at the studios in Manchester. 

Return: Coronation Street stars returned to set on June 9 to produce new episodes after the shutdown (Ian Bartholomew and Shelley King pictured)

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