Long-running Australian TV series Neighbours announced on March 18 that it would temporarily halt production amid the current coronavirus pandemic unfolding in Australia and worldwide.
“Neighbours has decided to take a short break this week to ensure the production model in place can withstand any potential impact of the current COVID-19 situation,” the show’s network, Channel 10, said in a statement.
“The health and well-being of everyone on the set of Neighbours will always be our priority.”
Earlier that day, Neighbours star Madeleine West (who plays the character Dee) described on 9Honey the ways in which COVID-19 had already dramatically affected filming.
“But then, desperate times call for desperate measures. Last week saw many of us laughing heartily at the proposed OCD-like hygiene measures being employed around the world. But we now find ourselves facing off with a sobering new world order,” she wrote.
West joked (well, semi-joked) that she received her hair and makeup from “a hazmat suit-clad artiste, standing a full foot away in rubber gloves and a full face mask” – and that the usual supporting cast of hundreds for special event scenes have been decimated to three extras milling about in the background.
“We were notified via stern email on Monday that kissing and hugging, the hallmarks of great soap, have been outlawed in favour of handshakes. Yesterday saw contact further reduced to elbow taps.”
According to 10Daily, filming has – at this stage – been paused until Monday, March 23.
Meanwhile the show, which has been running for 35 years, will continue to air according to its usual schedule.