Emmerdale Is Back!

With COVID precautions in place, our favourite TV programmes are back in business

The roller coaster plot points that stick in our minds, the drama between characters who can feel more like family, the cliffhangers…oh! the cliffhangers – we love our soaps for so many reasons. And we’ve certainly missed them along with the other TV programmes that have been put on hold due to the coronavirus lockdowns.

TV and film productions were early collateral damage of the pandemic with sets standing dark and empty, like ghost towns, and with the cast and crew shut up in their homes.

But things are picking up again. And Emmerdale is at the top of our list.

While some of the COVID precautions are leaving Emmerdale viewers ‘in stitches’ – as with the extreme social distancing on view as ‘Moira Barton confronted vicar Harriet Finch and villain DI Malone about their affair’ – most people are simply happy to have the stories picked up again.

Social distancing on show on Emmerdale
Image: ITV

But as we’ve seen so far in the pandemic response, what’s good for public health isn’t always good for the planet. Single-use plastic is on the rise as we turn to disposable PPE, takeaway cartons, cutlery and condiment sachets and plastic bags to cart it all around in.

Happily the Emmerdale crew were determined to find a way to kickstart their production without losing the momentum they’ve been building on sustainable and planet-friendly practices.

As a new case study published by albert (an organisation leading on sustainability for film and TV) noted, ‘in certain areas of production, the restrictions have created opportunities for the team to speed up the implementation of sustainable working methods at a quicker pace than they’d previously thought possible’.

‘We’ve been implementing environmental changes with each of our teams for some time now but sometimes when changes are seen as solely “environmental”, people can be sceptical,’ said Nader Mabadi, Senior Production Manager on Emmerdale. ‘They worry you’re taking something away from them or risking their job security. Seen through the lens of COVID, everyone immediately understood we needed to make changes for their safety. The fact that the changes had a positive knock on effect for the environment and were things we had discussed exploring anyway was serendipitous.’

COVID precautions in place on Emmerdale

In addition to the socially distanced filming and the use of mannequins during scenes where distance wasn’t possible, Emmerdale have:

  • Gone 100% paperless: all scripts and call sheets are now being sent digitally to cast and crew
  • Installed planet-friendly hygiene stations: with portable pump-operated hand washing sinks and sanitiser bottles that could be cleaned and refilled. They’re also providing reusable face coverings that are washed after use
  • Revived ‘bring-your-own’ practices: cast and crew bring in their own cups, mugs and cutlery. And catering is now opt-in which means that caterers can cook to order and reduce food waste

Nader said, ’Although these are smaller changes in the grand scheme of our overall footprint, it’s important to show our team visually that we’re still taking our environmental responsibilities seriously and equally, that it’s possible to combine new COVID working practices with sustainability principles.’

The catch phrase is that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and it’s often the greatest challenges that provide the biggest opportunities for growth and new ways of doing things. We certainly applaud Emmerdale’s commitment to keeping the good of the planet at the heart of what they do.

We’re counting down to the next episode, who’s with us?!

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