How we produce TV drama during Covid-19

Alex Jones and Ian Hogan reveal the different challenges in producing their dramas Death in Paradise and The Pursuit of Love during the global pandemic.

The creators of high-end TV dramas Death in Paradise and The Pursuit of Love explain the different ways in which they film safely during Covid-19.

The Pursuit of Love is a romantic comedy with intimate scenes based on the novel by Nancy Mitford, so it isn’t always possible for actors to be socially distanced. The solution to this, as explained by line producer Ian Hogan, is for the production to have an on-site lab and for cast and crew to be tested twice weekly. The teams are also divided into separate cohorts to minimise contact.

Death in Paradise, by contrast, is shot mainly outdoors with few intimate scenes. Alex Jones explains the production does not have extensive testing facilities but has a Covid supervisor with a background as an assistant director. His role is to remind cast and crew to wear masks and stay apart. He sometimes advises the director on the safest way to shoot certain scenes.

Ian and Alex also talk about insurance and the impact of the pandemic on dailies and people with underlying health conditions.

About the speakers

Alex Jones is joint managing director of Red Planet Pictures. He oversees the company’s output and manages the negotiations for major co-production deals across the world, most notably, for Death in Paradise, which has sold into over 220 territories globally.

Ian Hogan is a producer and production manager, known for Black Mirror, Downton Abbey and Sket. The Pursuit of Love has been commissioned for BBC One and is produced by Moonage Pictures and Open Book.

About the event

This is a recording of an online event that took place on 2 September 2020. The session is supported by the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund with contributions from UK high-end TV productions. It was part of the safe return to set seminars organised by ScreenSkills. 

Take our course

To learn how to work safely on productions, go to our online coronavirus basic awareness on production course.