Britain’s Soap Operas Offer Escape From Coronavirus. For Now.

Britain’s Soap Operas Offer Escape From Coronavirus. For Now.


Three episodes of “Coronation Street” would be aired a week, rather than the usual six, so it could stay on air until July, a spokeswoman for ITV said in a telephone interview. This would mean the show would fall out of sync with real life, she said. For instance, episodes that reference Easter would air after the holiday, she added, but she hoped viewers would understand.

“It is absolutely unprecedented,” said Lisa Holdsworth, a TV scriptwriter who is the chair of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. In the early 2000s, during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle, one rural soap, “Emmerdale,” was forced to change its story lines and stop shooting outside, she said. “But they still didn’t shut down.”

This time, though, it was obviously the right thing to do, she added.

Fans on social media almost unanimously agreed with the broadcasters’ decisions to stop filming, and many expressed concern about the shows’ older stars.

“Coronavirus felt quite removed from real life until this happened,” said Ana Guerra-Moore, 25, a fan of “Coronation Street,” in a telephone interview. “After ‘EastEnders’ stopped production, I was, like, ‘God, is it going to happen to ‘Corrie’?’” she added, using a nickname for “Coronation Street.” “And a big part of me was hoping it wouldn’t, because I wanted it to still be here, to be that comfort and help everyone through.”

For now, the soaps are one of the few shows on British TV with no mention of the coronavirus: Instead, their story lines focus on the troubles of everyday life, with some dramatic plot twists thrown in. In the past week, “Hollyoaks” fans have seen characters confront each other over an affair without any hint of social distancing. On “EastEnders,” the Queen Vic pub has been filled with drinkers, even after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week ordered pubs, cafes and restaurants to close.



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