The summer series of Love Island is in doubt as an ITV boss said he has ruled out filming the reality show in the UK.
The upcoming series, which sees young single people couple up in a villa in Mallorca, usually airs in the UK in June.
But Kevin Lygo, director of television at ITV, said he would feel “uneasy” about airing a show that sees people “slathering over each other” while the rest of the nation is being told to socially distance.
Speaking at a controller session at the Edinburgh TV Festival, which is being held online this year, Lygo said: “We’re right approaching the moment with Love Island of is it feasible, will Mallorca open its doors to hundreds of production people arriving?
“Will there have to be quarantine?
"All these things.
“And so we have to factor all of that in and also, what signal might it be sending out if we’re doing a show where everybody is crammed together slathering over each other, and the rest of the world is told don’t go near anyone in the park?
“I’m a little uneasy about that, so we will make a decision in a proper way quite soon, but it affects a lot of people, a big commercial impact for us, there’s 200 people working on that show.”
Mr Lygo said crew and contestants would be flying out to Mallorca in the next six weeks, adding: “Is that really viable, feasible?
“The team had looked at doing it in Cornwall somewhere, and we feel now in a rushed sense, no, I don’t think making it in the UK, it would be the same show.
“And we don’t want to not make the same show as we have made, because it’s been so successful.”
The show has been a huge hit for ITV2 and the first winter series aired earlier this year, which was filmed in South Africa.
However, it was overshadowed by the death of former host Caroline Flack, who took her own life on February 15 at the age of 40.
Speaking at the same event, Lygo also said older cast members could be absent when Coronation Street and Emmerdale return and actors may have to stand two metres apart.
The director of television at the channel said he is anxious to get the soaps back into production because “ITV without soaps is barely ITV”, adding: “They are terribly important to get back up and running.”
Production on both soaps has been halted and transmission reduced to make the bank of recorded episodes last longer, but Emmerdale will run out of episodes at the end of May, while Coronation Street will run out of episodes after June.
He said: “They are working really hard now as to how, when, if and when restrictions are lifted a bit, how can we make the soaps in a safe way.
“They are being inventive and creative about rejigging storylines, I think we have got to accept there will be no more than two people talking in a room, and looking at ways of shooting where people don’t appear to be six feet apart.”
He said the broadcaster is also investigating whether testing for coronavirus among the cast and crew is also an option, saying: “The zoom, the lockdown programming that has been on air all over the place, I don’t think with drama and soap, you can’t expect them… you need make-up, you need wardrobe, people will not be able to stay six feet apart and so how can that be done in a safe way.”
He added: “We won’t go back in shooting until we are convinced it is safe, we don’t want to put any of our staff, our cast and our crew, at risk.
“Some people who are in a dangerous zone, by age or health reasons, they won’t be there, I’m sure, for a time.
“I don’t want Ken Barlow (played by William Roache, 88) to get sick on my watch. We will be very careful and mindful about that sort of thing.”
Lygo said that while viewership is up in daytime, it is not up in peak time and he is worried about shedding viewers over the summer when the schedule is filled with repeats.
He said this is why he is particularly anxious to get the soaps back on air, adding: “I don’t want anyone who has been watching the soaps for years thinking ‘Oh I have done without it, maybe I’ll detox and I’ll get some life back’.
“No. Please don’t do that. Please keep watching the soaps. We’ll just have to be better at what we do.”