Kissing scenes could soon be allowed on TV again as UK broadcasters unite to create filming guidelines without two metre social distancing in place.
The proposed changes for shows where actors “unavoidably need to be in close contact with each other,” could be applied to sex scenes, but also to fight scenes in dramas like Line Of Duty and to reality shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, STV and ITN have teamed up to create a five-page document detailing how filming could take place without social distancing, but with other measures put in place to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
The proposed rules include placing small groups of cast and crew members in a social bubble, referred to as close contact cohorts (CCCs) with members made easily identifiable, possibly through colour coding.
The CCCs will then be permitted to spend a minimal amount of time in close contact after being tested for COVID-19 48 hours before arriving on set.
They will be expected to follow strict social distancing measures when not working within their bubbles.
A BBC spokesperson told Variety: “Getting TV production back up and running safely is our priority. If we are to get back to producing the range and quality of programs that the public love which reflect real life interactions, we are going to need to film scenes and shows where people are closer than two metres apart.
“There will be increased screening for these groups, alongside daily symptom checks and close contact periods would be restricted on set. Close contact groups will be asked to follow social distancing rules during the time between an antigen test and their arrival on set, as well as observing social distancing in their daily life during the filming period.
“We will keep this advice under review if the situation changes.”
An ITV spokesperson told The Guardian: “ITV has continued to be at the heart of informing, entertaining and connecting the UK through the COVID-19 crisis, and production teams continue to work hard to bring back many more loved shows.
“Working with partners across the industry, this advice builds on the industry-wide guidelines published in May and reflect the evolving situation we all find ourselves in.
“Above all, the guidance is there to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all those who work on the programmes.”
The document applies to England and Northern Ireland, and will come into play in Scotland from 30 July. Wales has its own guidelines.
The new measures will help make it possible for reality show Strictly Come Dancing – in which celebrities are paired with professional dancers to compete for the public vote – to go ahead this year.
Dramas Peaky Blinders and Line Of Duty were forced to suspend filming in the middle of their latest series at the beginning of lockdown in March.
TV bosses found innovative ways to film new shows during lockdown including ITV’s Isolation Stories and the BBC’s comedy Staged, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen chatting over video call from their respective homes, and a new production of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.