Coronation Street will resume filming next week, soap bosses have confirmed – but without kissing scenes or older cast members.
Filming will start again at the show’s studios in Trafford, Greater Manchester, on June 9, with cast and crew having their temperatures checked on a daily basis.
Coronation Street actor Andrew Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland, said “there definitely will be no kissing scenes”.
Cast “who are over the age of 70 or have an underlying health condition won’t be on set in the initial period of filming”, the broadcaster has said.
ITV director of television Kevin Lygo previously said that soaps could return to screens with older cast members absent.
Those who fall into a clinically vulnerable category will “follow an individual risk assessment process, which will enable them to return to work if it is safe for them to do so”.
Older cast members include William Roache (Ken Barlow), Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) and Maureen Lipman (Evelyn Plummer).
The number of episodes to air will continue to be fewer than before the pandemic, at three a week initially.
Series producer Iain MacLeod said that humour – a fixture of the long-running soap – will be intact.
“The whole team at Coronation Street has pulled together to generate an ingenious, intricate set of protocols to allow filming to restart as safely as humanly possible,” he said.
“We are really pleased to be able to resume making the nation’s favourite soap at a time when people need the reassurance of their regular Corrie fix more than ever.
“Safety remains our number one priority and we are under no illusions about the challenges still facing us and the nation as a whole.
“However, I can assure viewers that Corrie’s ever-present humour and brilliant storytelling will be there in abundance in the episodes due to begin filming next week and beyond.”
ITV’s managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north John Whiston said: “Getting to this point has taken a huge amount of work and goodwill from a huge number of people, not least our cast and crew.
“With the peak past, all indications are that the time is right for a return to filming.
“And with the extensive protocols we have put in place, we have made our workplace as safe as possible.
“I’m sure our audience will appreciate having the show they love continue on air.
“For many who have written in, it is a vital escape from all the fears and stresses this virus brings in its wake.”
The production team have begun a health and safety induction to familiarise themselves with the new protocols that are now in place on the set.
ITV said that the return to filming will ensure the soap, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in December, stays on air in July.
Intensive cleaning and sanitisation of areas where filming is taking place will occur on a daily basis and props will be sanitised, with the design team working at a safe distance.
Make-up and costume will work remotely with members of the cast.
Whyment told ITV’s Good Morning Britain With Lorraine Kelly: “It’s going to take some getting used to,” but added: “I think we’re all ready to get back now.”
MacLeod has previously said that coronavirus will feature in future episodes but will not “dominate” the soap’s storylines.
The programme will show its characters following hand-washing protocol, while Weatherfield’s restaurants will shift to offering food deliveries.
EastEnders is set to resume filming by the end of June.
Emmerdale’s cast and crew returned to work last month.