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Casting of real-life couples will increase to work around social distancing rules in TV

Danny Thompson
·Contributor
·2-min read
Alison Steadman (L) and Michael Elwyn attend an after party celebrating the press night performance of 'Absent Friends' at Mint Leaf restaurant on February 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Alison Steadman (L) and Michael Elwyn attend an after party celebrating the press night performance of 'Absent Friends' at Mint Leaf restaurant on February 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on life as we know it and with society making its first tentative steps at emerging into a post-lockdown world, the industries of TV and film may need to find ways to get around stringent social distancing rules.

Though new government guidelines allow people to meet and gather with people not in their household, it is still recommended you stay at least two metres apart.

And with it looking likely such measures could be in place for some time in hope of preventing a second spike of COVID-19 cases, filming particular scenes could prove tricky for directors.

Read more: Rachel Riley 'feels guilty' enjoying family help with baby daughter during lockdown

A current solution being floated by TV executives includes casting couples, which as they are likely to be of the same household, would allow the filming of scenes which require stars to be close to one another for intimate scenes.

Executive producer of Netflix hit The Crown, Andy Harries had been considering the idea during lockdown before giving the green light to his company, Left Bank Pictures.

The 66-year-old told The Sunday Times: "I had asked my casting director to investigate couples who either lived together or were married to try and solve this challenge. Most dramas have intimate scenes — not just straight sex, you want other intimacy. I think it could be a good solution."

It isn’t just Left Bank Pictures adopting the strategy to get around social distancing restrictions.

Headlong theatre company and Century Films for the BBC is currently producing Unprecedented, a series of plays filmed during lockdown which has cast real-life couples.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone attend the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Fashion and Film Party at Annabel's on February 2, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone attend the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Fashion and Film Party at Annabel's on February 2, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The couples cast are Gemma Arterton and Rory Keenan, Alison Steadman and Michael Elwyn, Arthur Darvill and Inès De Clercq, Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone, and Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni.

Jeremy Herrin, 50, artistic director of Headlong, compared the process of hiring the perfect couple as “like threading a needle”.

Read more: Simon Thomas reveals his father has died aged 78

He said: "We needed a certain quality of actor with a certain sort of sensibility, but their partner needed to be fantastic as well.

"And they needed to be isolated together. It really was like threading a needle."

The hiring process might be tricky, but if casting couples continues to be a trend to get around social distancing, at least we’ll be guaranteed to see some chemistry on screen.

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