Aussie soap Neighbours was one of the first English-language production to resume filming after COVID-19 shutdowns, but actor interaction is limited. In a New York Times profile, the Neighbours team divulged secrets to keeping their show going; will other soaps follow their regulations as filming eventually resumes?
For one, actors must stand five feet apart, can't touch, kiss, or engage in a love scene, or fight...meaning most physical acting is gone. Prepare for a heck of a lot more emoting on screen. Many precautions are in place, the profile noted:
All cast and crew members have their temperature checked when they enter the studio. Once on set, they are divided into cordoned off shooting units, with only three actors permitted to cross between these designated zones at any time. Male performers wear no makeup and women are forgoing touch-ups.
Cameras are positioned to make the cast appear as if they were standing or sitting closer to one another. There are no extras. And although soap operas are known the world over for passionate embraces and violent clashes born of unbridled emotion, on the new 'Neighbours' there will be no touching and no physical intimacy.
And if they do come into contact, the showrunners are prepared. Executive producer Jason Herbison said:
We’re able to very quickly monitor everyone’s interaction and footprint, should we have an incident. We’ve been adapting.
Meanwhile, UK soap staple Eastenders is due to begin shooting again in June. BBC's director of content said that all cast members must do their own makeup to avoid contact. A spokesperson for Coronation Street added:
The health and well-being of our people and those who work with us has always been our highest priority and remains so as we look to restart production.
We are in the final stages of working with others across the industry on a return-to-production protocol and we are in active discussions with government on this. We will share more news in due course.