Neighbours exec producer Jason Herbison talked to UK drama bosses about how to navigate a new way of working under Covid-19 rules...
Aussie soap Neighbours has shared valuable insights with UK and US soaps after being the first major soap to return to filming after the Covid-19 crisis shutdown all TV drama production in March.
Neighbours producer Jason Herbison has told whatsontv.co.uk that he’s had talks with other drama bosses about how to keep the big storylines rolling under strict social distancing guidelines.
Actors and crew were back on the Ramsay Street set at the end of April. In the UK, Emmerdale returned to filming in a limited capacity in May and Coronation Street and EastEnders are set to follow in June.
“One positive and unexpected consequence of Covid-19 is the way it’s brought producers around the world together,” revealed the Neighbours’ boss.
“I’ve had conversations with contemporaries from Australia, the US and the UK and there’s a great spirit of sharing advice and wisdom.
“I’m very happy to pass on what we are doing and if it can be adapted to suit other production models, I think that is fantastic – however, every production is very different.”
Herbison also confirmed that although filming has had to be much more ‘creative’, they have been able to maintain the integrity of the soap’s storylines despite rewrites:
“We are six weeks in and we’re definitely in a groove now – everyone has adjusted really well to the new protocols. We haven’t scrapped any major storylines however we are approaching filming differently.
“The rewrites are largely to facilitate our new cast shooting schedule – we divided the cast into two groups and isolated them in certain sets and locations, typically their homes and work places.
“We’ve also had to rework scenes with more than three people in them so elements could be shot separately, keeping the overall head count down. We then edit them all together and I’m thrilled to say, the result is seamless.”
Romantic entanglements are some of the most challenging scenes to film, Herbison admitted, but it doesn’t mean that relationships are off the table.
“We’ve reimagined scenes that include intimacy, so viewers will start to see the occasional creative camera angle,” he confirmed.
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5
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Rachel is a soaps and TV writer for WhatToWatch.com, soaps podcaster and resident soap expert for UK TV listings magazines What's On TV and TV Times. After graduating with an art and design degree from Birmingham City University, she found her true calling in all things soap and has been writing about them for magazines and websites for over 20 years. A self-confessed soap addict, she's always had a great love of all the UK and Aussie soaps and owns everything from a Neighbours 1990 Annual to a DVD box set of classic Corrie episodes to prove it.