Coronation Street stars will return to the famous cobbles for filming next week, bosses at the soap have announced – but there’ll be no kissing and no older or vulnerable cast members on set at first.
After an enforced break in production due to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown measures are slowly being lifted for Weatherfield.
Filming at the Coronation Street studios in Trafford, Greater Manchester, is due to start on Tuesday next week, with social distancing measures in place, make-up and costume staff working remotely, and cast and crew members having their temperatures checked every day.
Actors “who are over the age of 70 or have an underlying health condition won’t be on set in the initial period of filming”, says broadcaster ITV.
Older cast members include William Roache (Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) and Maureen Lipman (Evelyn Plummer).
Those who fall into a clinically vulnerable category will “follow an individual risk assessment process, which will enable them to return to work if it is safe for them to do so”.
And star Andrew Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland, says “there definitely will be no kissing scenes”.
It follows similar safety measures announced by Australian soap Neighbours, where filming resumed at the beginning of May.
And EastEnders is set to follow suit, with plans for filming to resume at the end of June.
Series producer Iain MacLeod says that despite the pandemic, Corrie’s trademark humour will still be intact.
“We are really pleased to be able to resume making the nation’s favourite soap at a time when people need the reassurance of their regular Corrie fix more than ever,” he said.
“Safety remains our number one priority and we are under no illusions about the challenges still facing us and the nation as a whole.
“However, I can assure viewers that Corrie’s ever-present humour and brilliant storytelling will be there in abundance in the episodes due to begin filming next week and beyond.”
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The number of Coronation Street episodes to air will continue to be fewer than before the pandemic, at three a week initially.
ITV says the return to filming now will ensure the soap, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in December, stays on air in July, after spreading episodes out to ensure they did not run out.
ITV’s managing director of continuing drama John Whiston said: “I’m sure our audience will appreciate having the show they love continue on air.
“For many who have written in, it is a vital escape from all the fears and stresses this virus brings in its wake.”
Bosses have previously said that the pandemic will feature in future episodes but will be handled with a light touch, rather than dominating storylines.