Written by Shona Smith on May 19, 2020. Posted in Production News

UK television programmes get ready to resume production

Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Top Gear are expected to start filming again in coming weeks following guidance published by UK broadcasters that lays out effective assessment and management of COVID-19 risk in TV production. The guidelines for television programmes come ahead of guidance from the British Film Institute (BFI) on how to manage high-end TV drama and film production, which is expected at the end of May.

Broadcasters ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Viacom STV and ITN as well as industry associations Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) and Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (COBA) have created the guidance that provides a framework for effective assessment and management of Coronavirus in TV production.

The document details the practical application within the TV production setting of Public Health England guidance. Six key areas are covered that should be considered before cameras start rolling again; specifically consider people at higher risk of harm; heighten precautions for everyone at work; reduce the number of people involved; consider editorial ‘on camera’ requirements; Consider mental health and wellbeing and a feedback loop to ensure risk assessment process is effective and actively reviewed. Points for assessing risk are set out covering including travel, working patterns, equipment, first aid and mental health.

These guidelines only apply to the TV sector, and the BFI are actively working on separate guidelines for high-end television and film, which are expected to be published in late May. However, the measures set out may provide useful insight on the type of protocols that will be adopted on sets in future. For example, the guidelines stipulate that outdoor filming is preferable, and indoor locations should have a large open space with good ventilation. Using floor markings to mark 2m distance in crowded areas is recommended and one way routes to minimise numbers. It is recommended to keep teams of workers together and as small as possible, staggering lunch breaks and arrivals and departures. The complete guidelines can be viewed here.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden said
“Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe to do so. This is a significant step forward in getting our favourite shows and soaps going again. Our creative industries are Britain’s global calling card, and I want to see them get back to doing what they do best safely”.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “Everyone across the TV industry wants to get production back up and running. Recent weeks have shown just how important shows are to the public. But we can only move forward with the right safety measures in place. This guidance is an attempt to get that right. Clearly we will keep it under review. We have, as an industry, already learnt a lot about how we can deliver programmes and we will all put that into practice”.

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