CORONATION Street will reference the coronavirus in upcoming episodes, show boss Iain MacLeod has revealed.
However, he promised the deadly illness’s inclusion on the cobbles will not dominate the soap as fans tune in for escapism.
He said: “Scripts are changing all the time – we have talked a lot about whether Coronation Street would exist in a parallel world or had a coronavirus in it.
“The Coronation Street we love reflects modern Britain albeit heightened. So to not reference it wouldn’t feel right.
“It has to exist but people also tune in for escapism and to see dramatic stories and stuff they don’t normally see in their own lives. The virus will exist but we’d be keen for it not to dominate everyone’s lives.”
Explaining how the virus’s presence might be felt in Weatherfield, he continued: “It’s the only conversation in my house – but people don’t want to see that as the only topic of conversation on screen.
“We will see it reflected in how businesses are run, hand washing and the way people behave but we will still tell dramatic storylines and a dollop of comedy as we don’t want to lose what the show is. Our storytelling is business as usual.”
Last week it was reported the government was in talks with ITV over how the network could continue production on Coronation Street and Emmerdale amid coronavirus social distancing rules.
Filming on all TV productions – including BBC and Channel 4 soaps EastEnders and Hollyoaks – has been halted, but ITV’s chief executive Carolyn McCall claimed that the government is “keen” to bring the soaps back as a way to help keep the public entertained.
Coronation Street previously aired six episodes a week, and Emmerdale five or six, but both soaps have cut down to three episodes a week in order to preserve pre-filmed work for the coming months.
“ITV’s role is to inform people but also entertain and engage them – and that is vital at the moment,” Carolyn told Broadcast.
“The government is very keen for us to bring back the soaps as soon as we can, while observing the social distancing measures.”
BBC soap EastEnders and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks are both down to two new episodes a week.
In Australia, Neighbours stars returned to work on Monday as the soap restarted production after the set was shut down over coronavirus.
According to The Daily Telegraph, “extreme measures” are being put in place to ensure health and safety including temperature checks and social distancing during filming, with the number of scenes being cut to reduce risk.
Neighbours’ executive producer Jason Herbison said: “It is our goal that impact to the screen will be minimal. We love a challenge and so far, we have found creative solutions to every issue.
“In some cases, cast will be scheduled separately but edited together to give the illusion of larger groups. There are no scenes that require intimacy or physical contact.”