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Neighbours

The show must go on! Neighbours will continue filming in Melbourne despite the city entering full-scale lockdown

''Strict health and safety measures will be maintained.''

By Rebecca Sullivan
Production on Neighbours will continue to go ahead in Melbourne, despite the entire city forced into lockdown for six weeks from today.
The popular Aussie soap resumed filming in late April, after a temporary halt in production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the latest wave of restrictions announced in the Victorian capital won't stop the show at all.
"Neighbours will continue under its current production model adopted when Stage 3 restrictions were first introduced in Victoria," the show's production company Fremantle Australia revealed in a statement to HuffPost Australia.
"The strict health and safety measures we have adhered to for the past 11 weeks will be maintained, ensuring the well-being of our cast and crew remains intact."
When strict social distancing rules were implemented earlier this year, production completely changing the way the show was filmed.
The cast and crew have been split three separate groups, there are never more than three people in a scene and there is a strict policy on no hand-holding or kissing scenes.
"There will be no more than 100 people a day in any area, we'll implement the four-square-metre rule and the one-and-a-half-metre social distancing rule," Chris Oliver-Taylor, chief executive of Fremantle Australia, told the ABC in April.
"We're going to assume if someone does get sick we don't need to shut the entire shoot — we just close that group and carry on."
The residents of Ramsay Street were the first TV cast in the world to resume filming post-pandemic. Image: Channel 10
The cast of Neighbours returned to filming in April this year. Image: Channel 10
They also decided against weaving COVID-19 pandemic into the show's storyline, unlike it's soap rival Home And Away.
"We've debated about whether to incorporate the coronavirus into the narrative. However, we are currently plotting episodes that won't air until much later in the year, so anything we write now might feel very outdated," Neighbours' Executive Producer, Jason Herbison told HuffPost Australia in a statement.
Herbison said that was a deliberate decision, so the program could continue to provide some "escapism" from the anxiety of the news cycle.
"Further to this, there's a creative question – will our viewers want to switch on Neighbours and relive it again? Or is our job to provide escapism? I tend to feel it's the latter, however you might see some lingering hints of it the screen.
"As if the virus might have somehow passed by our fictional world and our characters have adopted some of the habits and precautions, such as around hygiene."
Neighbours star Tim Robards mucking around on set. Image: Instagram
Sharon pictured social distancing with her co-star Paul Mercurio. Image: Instagram
Neighbours star Sharon Johal has previously opened up to TV WEEK about exactly how the new social distancing rules have affected the cast and crew on set.
"We're really lucky, it's such a large building and got big location that is big enough for us to maintain social distance and we've broken up the cast into two groups essentially, which means that everyone's that much less risk, it's been quite seamless. Any precaution you can think of has been taken," she revealed, adding that she was just grateful to be working during a time when many in the entertainment industry have been left unemployed.
"I love the fact that I am at work, I feel very honoured and privileged that we're the first ones," referring to the fact that Neighbours was the first English-speaking show in the world to return to filming in the aftermath of the coronavirus.
WATCH BEOW: Actress Bonnie Anderson sings the new Neighbours song. Story continues after video.
As for extras, she says production have been using existing crew members instead.
"Because we're not bringing any external people, we've been using like our receptionist and admin staff. Even our AD, who's the guy who calls 'action' and 'cut', he'll be the guy that works behind the counter at Harold's café. It's funny."

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