• Broadcasters in UK create guidelines for safe productions
  • BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITN, Sky, Coba and Pact partner on guidelines
  • Aim is to outline safe productions as coronavirus lockdown eases


ITV: Successfully shot and produced Isolation Stories in lockdown

Source: ITV

UK broadcasters have partnered to establish a set of guidelines aimed at outlining how the industry can produce television content safely in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis, which has caused governments to implement lockdowns across the globe, has seen the vast majority of productions shut down, with filming much more difficult due to social distancing rules aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, ITN, the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (Coba) and Pact have joined forces to develop guidelines that are intended to enable a return to production for the television industry.

The guidance covers TV making of all genres and scale and aims to set as a complementary set of instructions alongside those set to be published by the British Film Commission for managing the risks associated with film and high-end TV drama production.

The number one priority, according to the broadcasters, is producing content safely, taking into account advice from the UK government around returning to work safely.

The guidance has been produced through a collaboration of cross industry experts in this area along with external expertise provided by Dr Paul Litchfield. The broadcasters have also worked with First Option, safety consultants to the media and entertainment industry, to devise this approach as well as liaising with union representatives and the health and safety executive.

Six areas that producers and broadcasters should consider:

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

The full guidance can be found here

UK Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe. Our creative industries are Britain’s global calling card and this is a significant step forward in getting our favourite shows back into production.”

Productions for some content, such as news and talk shows, has continued during lockdown, albeit with scaled back studios or broadcasts carried out at home.

The guidance also looks at areas of risk that should be considered when running a production. These areas of consideration include travel, location, work activities, work equipment, work patterns, the need for rest areas, and the availability of first aid and the emergency services.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Everyone across the TV industry wants to get production back up and running. Recent weeks have shown just how important shows are to the public. But we can only move forward with the right safety measures in place. This guidance is an attempt to get that right. Clearly we will keep it 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.”

ITV has already carried out a production during lockdown, for its TV show special Isolation Stories. The production involved recording performances at the homes of the actors, with limited crew and social distancing in place.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “ITV has been at the heart of informing, entertaining and connecting the UK through the Covid-19 crisis. 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.

”Working with partners across the industry, and with the support of DCMS, we have created clear guidelines to give producers a framework within which they can ensure that their production is safe.”