The Show Still Went on – Despite the Risk Assessments!

Perelandra Beedles

The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) had a profound impact on many industries, and the broadcast sector was no exception. As governments around the world imposed various restrictions to try to limit the further spread of the virus, the impact on film and TV production was immediate.

I followed the progress of the UK broadcast industry closely, as they attempted to meet the requirement for covid health and safety measures. Having worked for decades as a Producer and Production Manager I already knew how inventive and hardworking productions teams can be, but it was still impressive to see just how pioneering television crews became; from filming presenters in their homes, to creating storylines which allowed covid bubbles of crew and cast to be formed; it was an exercise in rapid innovation.

The film and TV Restart Scheme (DCMS/Gov) may have helped productions mitigate against issues in terms of insurance, but it was the clear guidelines created by organisations such as the  British Film Commission (BFC) and PACT which offered vital signposting in the early days of getting production back on track.

It was also the moment for production managers to shine. Already used to delivering a centrally orchestrated approach to behaviours, they quickly ​adapted to new Covid protocols, developing ground-breaking methodologies to do so.​ This work was not only impressive in terms of production craft, but also played a vital role in helping the nation survive the challenges of lockdown. Ensuring the public were still able to access engaging, wonderful shows, even on the darkest of days.

Prior to Covid, the Television Research group at Edge Hill University, had already decided to create the Critical Awards in Television. As we all spent longer amounts of times indoors, the need to celebrate television and all it offered us became ever more important; and so it felt entirely right to create a Covid Health and Safety award.

We have invited production companies to nominate the productions they feel were particularly successful in negotiating health and safety for their productions. Voting is still open and the response to this acknowledgement to the demands created by the new H & S protocols has been truly humbling. Production Managers have spoken of the varied and holistic approaches they had to create, as the boundaries between homelife and the production office were blurred.​

From having to teach presenters and their families to self-shoot from home, to reinventing workflows to allow everything to be shot and edited fully remotely, what is abundantly clear is that the UK television industry is open to learn, able to adapt and will always find a way to keep the nation entertained.

The Critical Awards in Television will be held on 27th September at Wavertree Town Hall. We invite you to join us virtually by registering here.

Perelandra Beedles is a Senior lecturer in Television production Management in the Department of Creative Arts at Edge Hill University. Her research is focused on the impact of production schedules on those with caring responsibilities and sustainable television production.

Image: Screenshot from Staged

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