Revealed: Plan for Neighbours, Home And Away to return
Extreme measures have been taken to ensure TV soap Neighbours is back in production.
Temperature checks on arrival, no mobile phones and the closure of cast chill out areas are just some of the actions taken on set of the iconic Australian television show.
Cameras began rolling on the Channel 10 show on Monday after an unprecedented several week break due to coronavirus.
Similarly, Home And Away on Channel 7 has been on forced hiatus due to the virus with no date yet set for production to return, although the script writing team has returned to work in the past week.
"We have worked very closely with the cast and crew to come up with guidelines that protect the health and safety of everyone on the production, while at the same time maintaining the editorial of the show," executive producer Jason Herbison told Confidential. "It is our goal that impact to the screen will be minimal. We love a challenge and so far, we have found creative solutions to every issue."
Television and film productions around the world have been crippled as the coronavirus forced the closures of sets. On productions that are still shooting like The Project, studio audiences have been cancelled and presenters are separated to practice social distancing.
Shows like Home And Away and Neighbours are under added pressure in that they air daily weeknights. They film with a buffer of a couple of weeks, which wouldn't be enough in this crisis.
Run by production company Fremantle and shot in its Nunawading, Melbourne, studios, other measures taken to halt the spread of COVID-19 on set of Neighbours include essential cast and crow only on set, meaning no visitors, safety officers empowered to run the set, plus new hygiene protocols in place, including social distancing.
Cast and crew have been divided into different groups with limited crossover with scenes rewritten to ensure less cast in each scene.
"In some cases, cast will be scheduled separately but edited together to give the illusion of larger groups," Herbison explained. "There are no scenes that require intimacy or physical contact. We are in the fortunate position of having an enormous studio and back lot and our storylines can be adapted with minimal impact to the show."
Herbison added that there will be a small amount of crossover between the different acting and crew groups for editorial reasons.
"If we were to have an incident, this means we can very easily determine the movements of any individual," he said. "Like any workplace we would follow the government guidelines, but in theory, yes, we might be able to keep some parts of the production running if another part had to shut down."
Originally published as Revealed: Plan for Neighbours, Home And Away to return