BBC One soap Doctors to air lockdown episode about coronavirus pandemic

One character will develop coronavirus symptoms.

The cast of BBC One daytime soap Doctors have filmed a lockdown episode from their homes, exploring the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on staff at The Mill medical centre.

Written by Toby Walton, the 45-minute episode, titled Can You Hear Me?, was entirely self-shot by the cast on their mobile phones.

It is expected to be the first lockdown episode made and transmitted by a continuing drama series.

According to the BBC, the episode will see characters suffer from anxiety and fear, and withdraw from the world, with one developing symptoms of the virus.

The fictional Mill Health Centre remains open during the outbreak so scenes will be set in the evening and feature remote meetings, phone calls and counselling.

The production ensured social distancing rules were complied with both on and off screen.

BBC Studios series producer Peter Lloyd came up with the idea during the first week of lockdown.

Production worked remotely to ensure the cast could shoot a full episode in five days.

Mr Lloyd said: “I wanted to capture the strange times we are experiencing and present it to our audience.

“The very specific demands of producing an episode of this nature was a challenge for everyone involved, especially the cast as they were acting straight to camera, with only my voice performing all the other characters, so that certainly required a lot of imaginative work on their part. It was a real team effort.”

Mike Hobson, BBC Studios executive producer, said: “We’re never afraid to push the format on Doctors as our loyal viewers know, but this episode has been a challenge of a very different kind.

“To turn it around at this speed has meant coming up with new ways of working and totally rethinking how to make the programme.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work everyone has put into this episode, especially our brilliant cast who have had to learn new skills, while still giving outstanding performances.”

Carla-Maria Lawson, head of BBC Daytime and Early Peak, said: “Doctors recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and this unique episode demonstrates why the programme continues to innovate, and remains so popular with viewers.

“I think lockdown has presented challenges for everyone but it’s been wonderful to see the ingenuity within the creative sector and I’m delighted that Doctors is the first British continuing drama series to bring this very exciting format to fans.”

The BBC have said filming on EastEnders will restart by the end of June but details have not been released for Doctors.

The lockdown episode will air on Friday June 12 at 1.45pm on BBC One.

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