Leeds soap Emmerdale filming six new lockdown episodes after break of two months

Yorkshire soap Emmerdale has resumed filming nearly two months on from a halt in production during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ITV drama suspended shooting in Leeds in late March but six new episodes started being filmed yesterday as part of a "phased return", using a socially distanced and reduced crew over a two-week period, in order to keep the show on air in June.

Episodes will focus on how characters respond to life in lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis itself, meaning "resentments and past feuds resurface, old wounds further exposed, relationships scrutinised, with doubts and insecurities laid bare".

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Executive producer Jane Hudson said: “Lockdown has created an opportunity for us to focus on what is important in our lives.

Emmerdale's studio at ITV on Kirkstall Road.Emmerdale's studio at ITV on Kirkstall Road.
Emmerdale's studio at ITV on Kirkstall Road. | jpimedia

"When we first discussed commissioning these episodes back in March the writers instantly rose to the challenge.

"Seven weeks into lockdown and the scripts have an added poignancy and meaning.

"The response from everyone at Emmerdale to filming these episodes has been fantastic and we’re really grateful for their support.”

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New ways of working to protect the crew and cast have been introduced in accordance with pan-industry return-to-production protocols for TV drama, which ITV’s Health and Safety

team and medical advisers have been working on in consultation with the Government.

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The measures will include social distancing, filming units staying together to work in designated studios with crew using their own

sanitised equipment, office staff continuing to work from home to ensure fewer people on the ground, no location filming, scripts featuring a smaller number of actors and fewer scenes to avoid camera moves.

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The crew have also attended a meeting with the company’s medical adviser and participated in a health and safety induction which saw the new working environment procedures explained in detail.

The new episodes will ensure Emmerdale stays on air in June bringing the audience topical stories from much loved characters.

ITV said: "Inevitably, with time on their hands the characters will begin to think about what’s important in life.

"We’ll see resentments and past feuds resurface, old wounds further exposed, relationships scrutinised, with doubts and insecurities laid bare.

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"Some seize the opportunity lockdown presents to heal divisions, whilst others get some sizzle back into their lives! With the backdrop of the pandemic, the characters also reflect the nation’s immense gratitude and thanks for the NHS with the weekly clap for carers and the people working on the frontline keeping our country safe."

The six new episodes, directed by Ian Bevitt, feature Cain and Aaron (Jeff Hordley and Danny Miller), Chas and Paddy (Lucy Pargeter and Dominic Brunt), Sam and Lydia (James Hooton and Karen Blick), Marlon, Al and Ellis (MarkCharnock, Michael Wildman, Aaron Anthony), Mandy and Vinny (Lisa Riley and Bradley Johnson) and Jimmy and Nicola (Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler).

The writers are Adam Sales, Jo Maris, Paul Roundell, Karin Young, Samantha Doland De Vaux, and Chris Gill.

The episodes are produced by Laura Shaw and Kate Brooks with executive producer, Jane Hudson.

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John Whiston, managing director of Continuing Drama for ITV Studios and head of ITV in the North, has been overseeing the soap's plans to return to filming.

He said: "I'ts brilliant that Jane and the team at Emmerdale have risen to the challenge of getting these episodes shot using the new protocols for

filming drama while observing the Government's social distancing guidelines.

"Also, it will be great to see what the likes of Chas and Paddy and Jimmy and Nicola have got up to while they've been going through lockdown the same as the rest of us!”