Soap: not just great for washing your hands but also a popular TV genre. However, with many of our best-loved soap operas being forced by the Covid-19 outbreak to call a halt to filming, there could soon be yawning gaps all over the primetime schedules - not to mention a drop in morale for their loyal viewers.
The BBC confirmed on Wednesday that all its “continuing serial dramas” - namely EastEnders三级成人视频, Casualty, Doctors and Holby City - have suspended production until further notice. This also includes pressing the pause button on Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm and Scottish drama River City.
The number of EastEnders episodes screened will be cut from four to two per week, which will ensure the instalments already recorded last for as long as possible. Since 2001, the shouty Cockney saga has been broadcast every weeknight except Wednesdays. BBC One will now only visit Walford on Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, ITV announced that Coronation Street would keep filming on a reduced schedule and go down to three episodes a week, airing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Yorkshire-set Emmerdale will continue to air five episodes a week for now, although the commercial broadcaster said it was "keeping a close eye on the situation and putting our people first”, so that could still be subject to change.
M三级成人视频ost of our soaps are filmed six weeks ahead of transmission - meaning that if they were to continue to air the same number of episodes each week, they would run out of material by early May. These slimmed-down schedules mean footage in the can will be eked out into June.
By early summer, though, the unprecedented interruption in filming will start to bite. It’s not quite “soapageddon” but it would certainly come as a blow to fans. There’s often an outcry when episodes get shunted around due to sporting events or charity telethons. This could be the same, only louder and longer.
三级成人视频Many of our serial drama’s keenest followers are older viewers and those living alone, who rely on them for company and comfort. When we’re being advised not to leave the house, such virtual communities feel even more crucial. Soaps bring the nation together. It’s a cruel irony that we need them now more than ever, for the very same reasons that they could be forced off-air.
Fortunately, the world’s longest-running drama series could turn out to be our least affected. Radio 4 favourite The Archers - that everyday story of coronavirus-free farming folk - is the best equipped to continue by virtue of its medium.
Editor Jeremy Howe has assured devotees that the BBC has enough episodes recorded to keep taking us to Ambridge as usual for the weeks ahead, although he added: “We’re working on plans for beyond this, given there are significant challenges. The safety and wellbeing of our cast and production team are paramount. We’re sure listeners will understand this.”
Fittingly, of course, the show itself was born out of another national crisis. The Archers was originally produced in 1951 in collaboration with the Ministry Of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as a means of disseminating information to farmers following the Second World War, helping increase their productivity in the era of food shortages and rationing.
It truly would be a harbinger of troubled times if the residents of rural Borsetshire were forced off the airwaves. It’s the ultimate “keep calm and carry on” soap and Radio 4's most popular non-news programme. That jaunty maypole theme music is part of the fabric of the nation, as we were reminded when it featured in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
Happily, radio is rather more flexible and nimble on its feet than TV. With no visual component, parts can be recorded separately, anywhere with a microphone and a broadband connection. Unlike on a film set populated by copious cast, crew and extras, audio drama has the potential to be produced remotely. The Archers might be able to adjust, adapt and ride out the Covid-19 crisis, as it has every other threat for the past 69 years.
Our TV soaps might not be so lucky but if they must take a summer hiatus, it could be the perfect excuse to raid the archives and rerun some classic episodes. Who wouldn’t relish another opportunity to see Dirty Den serve his wife Angie Watts with divorce papers (“Merry Christmas, Ange”) or the evil exploits of Weatherfield serial killer Richard Hillman (aka “Norman Bates with a briefcase”)?
There could be another silver lining in terms of quality. Faced with increased competition and declining ratings, alongside the creative pressure of more episodes each week, our soaps have taken drastic steps to sustain interest. They have steadily moved away from grittily realism and towards implausibly over-the-top shock tactics.
P三级成人视频roducers have constantly raised the stakes with murders, rapes, disasters and explosions, to the extent that London E17, Salford M10 and Yorkshire LS3 nowadays look like the most dangerous postcodes in Britain. Might this enforced break - along with the nation's increased need for normality and comfort - be an opportunity to take stock, reset and go back to basics?
三级成人视频When filming does resume, it might even be that monologues, double-headers and “bottle episodes” - centred on just a couple of characters or one family dynamic - could be the way forward, being far safer to manage than crowd scenes and large-scale set pieces. More intimate scenes would also reflect the current climate of self-isolation and social distancing.
L三级成人视频ess bleak melodrama, more kitchen sink domesticity with real-life resonance? Like a typical soap storyline, there could yet be a happy ending for these reassuringly familiar fixtures on the broadcasting landscape.