"Fist fight” and “a perfect storm” are how producers are describing the current scarcity of crew, kit, studio space and talent in the British TV industry. The situation has arisen primarily due to the pre-Covid-19 content boom driven by the expanding streaming market and the post-lockdown rush back to production. And it is putting production schedules under strain.
The show must go on” runs the showbiz saying, but even this old cliché has been turned on its head by the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous dramas have temporarily halted production in recent months following Covid outbreaks among cast or crew. Sky thriller Cobra, for example, started shooting its second season at the end of September, but returned from the Christmas break to find that 15 of its cast and crew had tested positive for Covid.
RTS Isle of Man Centre’s Paul Moulton is joined by Rob Hurdman and David Beynon, the directors of the Isle of Man-based production company, Greenlight Television, to learn of the drastic changes they made to their production techniques to continue to deliver their services to clients and broadcasters across the globe.
But once the pandemic ends will these changes remain? This was debated at a RTS Thames Valley session in late February, “Will news ever be the same again?”
Session chair Simon Morice highlighted how innovative news services available on YouTube such as the US podcast Too Long; Didn’t Read were breaking the mould and offering what he described as “authentic voices” to young people who tend to shun mainstream TV news bulletins.
When the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, Fremantle lawyer Damian Kent told an RTS London event, “productions had to be suspended or stood down generally, so that meant looking at cast, crew and suppliers’ contracts. It meant going to broadcasters and producers, and agreeing what payments needed to be made.... It was an additional cost on the budget.”
At an RTS event in September, some of the leading figures in sports broadcasting recalled the moment when the Covid-19 lockdown brought down the curtain on live sport in the UK.
“It was a moment that had been coming,” said Sky Sports Managing Director Rob Webster, looking back to the March lockdown. “Our Italian colleagues were ahead of us in terms of the virus and their sport. It was only a matter of time.
At a late-July event, ‘The future of shows’, Darren Woolfson of Molinare, Abby Parsall (Boxer Systems), Ciaran Doran (Rohde & Schwarz), MC Patel (Emotion Systems) and Mark Birchall (Tradefair) formed an impressive panel, chaired by Penny Westlake (Interra Systems).
Here are our top picks.
Tuesday 4th August
Channel 4, 10pm
In the one-off documentary The Talk, Channel 4 shines a light on a talk that takes place in the black community, which those outside of the community often don’t know about.
Here are our TV picks for this week.
Paramedics: Britain’s Lifesavers
Monday 13th July, 9pm
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot of strain and pressure on many of our essential services, but especially on the ambulance service who have seen an unprecedented increase in demand.
My idea of heaven is Monty Python’s Whicker’s World spoof, Whicker Island, where our hero wistfully waters whisky while wantonly waxing words with W. For me, hell would be a post-lockdown lock-in in a dodgy pub full of TV pundits.
Brexit and football have taught me not only to distrust these people, but to despise them as they fling unsubstantiated opinions around like the proverbial brown stuff hitting the fan. It is messy, unpleasant and the odour stays with you for ages.