Coronation Street's shielding stars to appear on soap via video calls

Coronation Street stars who have been unable to return to the soap's set are to feature in the programme via video calls, according to the show's series producer.

The ITV drama resumed filming this week after production was initially halted in March because of coronavirus.

While most of the programme's cast and crew are returning to work, some are unable to do so because of their age or underlying health conditions.

Bill Roach plays Ken Barlow. Credit: PA

Series producer Iain MacLeod said that the pandemic has presented the makers of the soap with the "opportunity" to explore new production methods.

He said: "We are very keen to make sure we keep as many of our wonderful cast and brilliant characters on screen as we can, really.

"In some cases they physically can't be in the building but I still think I really want to make sure that we keep sight of them and I know the audience will thank us for keeping sight of them."

He added that those who cannot be on set are "all very well-loved, fantastic characters and performers".

"We are trying to sort of take advantage of the new post-pandemic world and some elements of that have become really normal for a lot of us, which is to say video calling and video conferencing," he said.

"Plans are afoot in that regard and I am very aware that there's a lot of extremely talented people that due to current guidelines can't be in the building, so yes we are keen to see them as much as we can, as much for the viewers' sake as anybody because they are all brilliant."

An episode of Coronation Street being filmed last year. Credit: ITV News

Older cast members include William Roache (Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) and Maureen Lipman (Evelyn Plummer) and it has previously been announced that over-70s will not be returning to the set right away.

Macleod added that plans to mark the soap's 60th anniversary in December have also had to be changed because of the pandemic.

He said: "We have had to strip out of our planning for the 60th some of the bigger kind of Hollywood spectacle elements because we simply didn't have the time after we'd come back from the lockdown."

He added that the plots to mark the anniversary will feature a story about community, as well as a plot involving a love triangle.