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Australian Soap ‘Neighbours’ Filmed With Social Distance Protocol

May 17, 2020 | Australia, BIZ, NEWS, POP

by AFP

On the set of Australian soap Neighbours as the team navigate social distancing rules

Sparks will continue to fly on Australian soap opera Neighbours even though the stars must keep their distance, the show’s creators promised after production resumed following a virus hiatus.

The long-running Melbourne-based drama, which has launched the careers of several stars including Kylie Minogue, is one of the first shows to press ahead with filming under strict social distancing rules as the television industry adapts to new norms.

Since restarting almost three weeks ago, producers have imposed daily temperature checks, a ban on visitors to the set and a rule that the cast must do their own make-up.

Clever camera work would compensate for any lack of physical contact between the characters, executive producer Jason Herbison told AFP.

“There is no kissing or hugging. However, we aren’t editing characters to look physically closer as such, but rather we are relying more on close-ups to create a feeling of intimacy,” he said.

The show, which has been aired in more than 60 countries, focuses on the lives of families in the fictional suburban community of Ramsay Street.

When virus restrictions forced the production team to take a break in March, its creators immediately began planning how to return under new health guidelines, Herbison said.

“We are taking advantage of every inch of the site and spreading everyone out, creating separate areas which limit the movements of each individual,” he added.

Another popular Aussie TV export, soap opera Home and Away, is also set to roll again as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia slows to a trickle, local media reported.

Herbison said industry professionals had been collaborating on how best to get back on track.

“One positive and unexpected consequence of COVID-19 is the way it’s brought producers around the world together,” he said.

“I’ve had conversations with contemporaries from Australia, the US and the UK and there’s a great spirit of sharing advice and wisdom.”

Lingering signs of the virus — such as hand sanitizer — may show up on screen in future episodes, he added, but a decision was made to leave the fictional world of Ramsay Street largely untouched by the pandemic.

“There’s a creative question –- will our viewers want to switch on Neighbours and relive it again? Or is our job to provide escapism?” Herbison said.

“I tend to feel it’s the latter.”