Stefan Dennis says it's 'weird' working on 'Neighbours' amid pandemic
Neighbours star Stefan Dennis has said the set of the soap is like a “surgery” because of the strict social distancing measures.
The Australian soap was the first to resume filming amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Dennis has revealed the set is a very different place to how it used to be, with temperature checks, colour coded teams, a strict no touching policy and crew members clad in gloves and masks.
Read more: Neighbours to resume filming
The actor - who has played Ramsay Street’s Paul Robinson since the show’s first episode in 1985 – said on ITV’s This Morning that being back is “almost like a 35th birthday present”, as the soap is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
“But it’s really weird,” he said. “On one hand it's fantastic, because we’ve got the opportunity to go back to work and little did we know, the production of Neighbours has pretty much paved the way with this blueprinted model that we’re doing now, because we’re back at work, to pave the way for productions all around the world, not just in Australia and Melbourne.”
He went on: “When you walk into the make-up department, it’s like walking into a surgery, because you’ve got the make-up artist with rubber gloves and masks and full gowns.
“Same with the wardrobe, the costume department… Obviously we have to keep the 1.5 metre distance, that is the rule.
“It is extremely strict.”
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Dennis said it was particularly strange for him as his son Declan has bagged a guest role in Neighbours, and the pair couldn’t hang out together.
He said: “What we’ve done is we’ve actually broken the studio up into four groups, four teams which are all colour coded. We cannot cross over and it's really weird, because when my son was working on the show a couple of weeks ago, he was at work and I was at work and I couldn’t even see him.”
The soap has also arranged for temperatures to be monitored.
“You can come into the compound as long as you don’t get out of your car, but you can’t enter the building without being temperature checked by the nurse and given the all clear,” he explained.
Dennis suggested that the soap is unlikely to address the pandemic in future episodes, partly because Neighbours shoots three months ahead.
Read more: EastEnders due to start shooting in June
He said: “We’re hoping that an episode we film today for example, when it goes to air, we’re certainly hoping the COVID situation has well and truly calmed down and things are well and truly on the way to normal.
“I think in the eyes of the producers they don’t want to keep carrying on the idea and let everybody move on… That’ll be a big no then!”
This Morning is on weekdays from 10am on ITV.