'Road to Palmyra'

Source: Bright Yellow Films/Oxford Films

‘Road to Palmyra’

A blueprint for getting TV production up and running has been unveiled as the industry attempts to get back to business.

The PSBs, Sky, STV, Pact, Coba and ITN have joined forced to publish the detailed document, broken down into six key areas, which is designed to enable indies to re-enter production. It is designed as complementary to the high-end TV guidelines published by the British Film Commission earlier this month.

Titled TV Production Guidance: Managing the Risk of Covid-19 in Production Making, it provides suggestions for producers across travel, location, film and safety equipment, working patterns, rest areas and mental health.

Its publication follows weeks of talks between industry stakeholders and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said it represents a “significant step” in getting the nation’s most-loved shows back into production.

“Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe,” he added. “Our creative industries are Britain’s global calling card.”

The key areas are:

  • Specifically consider people at higher risk of harm
  • Heighten precautions for everyone at work
  • Reduce the number of people involved
  • Consider editorial ‘on camera’ requirements
  • Consider mental health and wellbeing
  • Feedback loop

They include ensuring that production schedules consider the extra time required to implement the measures; minimising and segregating the number of workers required to complete activities and encouraging those that can to continue to work from home; changing scripts and scenes to take account of social distancing; and introducing clear procedures for raising concerns.

Other logistical provisions set out include on-set floor markings, specific holding areas to keep crew apart from filming areas, plexiglass barriers in edit suites and staggered start and break times for workers.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said the guidelines offered producers a clear framework within which to work.

“Our production teams are now working hard to bring many more much-loved shows back for viewers. This requires really innovative thinking, but above all, the safety and well-being of all those who work on the programmes is paramount.”

BBC director general Tony Hall said the measures will be kept under review. “We have, as an industry, already learnt a lot about how we can deliver programmes and we will all put that into practice”.

Last week, the BBC said BBC Studios shows EastEnders and Top Gear will re-enter production in June.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon added: “Unlocking the television production sector in a safe way will be vital to continuing to ensure we can both continue to serve our audiences and help sustain the livelihoods of those in the industry.”

The detailed document has been drawn up with input from an array of organisations including Bectu, Equity, Directors UK and individuals including Dr Paul Litchfield, who advised ITV about duty of care in the wake of the suicide of two Love Island contestants.

This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast