The BBC is watching production of Neighbours as it considers how to re-start TV drama production.
BBC soaps EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City have all halted production but are not yet ready to resume work. Shows including Peaky Blinders and Line Of Duty are amongst primetime dramas which have paused.
BBC drama controller Piers Wenger said future work will require a focus on managing actor production clashes, telling stories that do not involve international travel, and tapping into producer “ingenuity.”
Wenger’s team has taken note of the camera trickery being used on Neighbours to make actors look closer together, though he made clear that BBC continuing dramas, such as EastEnders and Casualty, are “not quite at that point yet.”
Neighbours benefits from a large backlot and single-use facility but is taking other measures to keep cast and crew safe. It has won global media coverage for the steps it is taking.
The Nunawading site has been divided into quadrants, with an operational hub, three distinct production teams and only three actors allowed to cross between the units. There are no intimate scenes.
Moving forward Wenger expects BBC dramas to focus on local stories.
“We will be, without doubt, spending more on shows that are shot within the UK because of the restrictions that are going to go on way beyond lockdown. We are really going to be leaning into a variety of stories set around the whole of the UK,” he said.