World's longest running soap Coronation Street resumes filming after 11 weeks in lockdown

Even for a soap scriptwriter, a global pandemic is a storyline too far fetched.

But come July 24 to be precise, the residents of the Coronation Street cobbles will be discussing social distancing and lockdown.

The world’s oldest soap has resumed filming but things will be different.

After a production shutdown of nearly three months across most TV and film, a new set of protocols drawn up by the industries means filming can restart providing safety rules are followed.

Emmerdale was first off the block starting at the end of last month and this week filming has started on Coronation Street.

The long list of rules means regular temperature checks fewer characters on set, all keeping apart, a man with a two-metre stick around to maintain the distancing rule, no touching, definitely no kissing and canoodling [a staple of soap operas], very few props to avoid cross contamination - that means food and eating scenes are out - characters doing their own make up, a one way system on the studio lot, lots of handwashing stations, face masks, perspex screens around cameras, no location filming and sadly for the older and more vulnerable members of the cast no physical presence on the cobbles for now.

There are a long list of rules to ensure filming is as safe as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: ITV News

Corrie’s gallery of older characters - Ken Barlow, Rita Sullivan, Audrey Roberts to name just a few - are one of the most popular aspects of the show, but in lockdown Britain they will be isolating.

So the producers have decided that even in the fictional world of Weatherfield the real world must be reflected.

William Roache who plays Ken is in isolation in real life, and so he is on the Street too.

It is a way to reflect the fact that some familiar faces will be missing for now but John Whiston, the head of Continuing Drama on ITV, says that there may be plot lines involving Zoom and Skype interviews allowing the characters to be involved in much the same way they would be interacting with others right now anyway.

Coronation Street rationed the amount of episodes it has put out during lockdown. Credit: ITV News

Coronation Street has managed to stay on air by rationing the amount of episodes it has put out during lockdown, down from six weekly to three.

Coming back now ensures it will not go off air - providing there’s not another significant spike in Covid-19 numbers leading to another strict lockdown and square one.

Eastenders is also due to resume filming later this month and slowly plans are being put in place to resume other filming projects, quarantine and insurance issues permitting.

This is a cautious return, and the industry is having to learn to work in a way it has never done before.

For now Coronation Street will continue to air three episodes a week, not the usual amount, as it tiptoes into this new world.

The soap is marking its 60th anniversary later this year, an event that would usually be marked by a huge live show complete with explosions or runaway tram trains hitting the cobbles.

Expect something more serene this year, lots of emotional looks and lingering gazes, but probably no touching.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know