BBC One’s Doctors films episode in lockdown
James R | On 03, Jun 2020
BBC One daytime favourite Doctors is the latest scripted series to film a special episode in lockdown.
Hot on the heels of ITV’s Isolation Stories, BBC Four’s Unprecedented and Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest quarantine recordings, Doctors has recorded a special 45-minute instalment self-shot by the cast at home on their mobile phones.
The episode, titled Can You Hear Me?, is written by Toby Walton and explores life in lockdown. Because the Mill is open to patients throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the characters continue to work during lockdown. Therefore these scenes are set in the evening, when remote meetings are held, phone calls are made and even counselling takes place.
As always everyone is working incredibly hard, but audiences soon discover the harsh realities faced by the characters, who suffer from inevitable anxiety and fear, withdraw from the world, and even (in one case) dramatically develop symptoms of the virus.
BBC Studios Series Producer Peter Lloyd thought of the concept during the first week of lockdown, and the episode took a total of three weeks to complete – from the storyline to final edit – with production working remotely to ensure the cast could shoot a full episode in only five days.
Peter explains the decisions behind the commissioning and production of the episode: “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, says: “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.”
Carla-Maria Lawson, Head of BBC Daytime and Early Peak, says: “Doctors recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and this unique episode demonstrates why the programme continues to innovate, and remains so popular with viewers.”
The production ensured strict social distancing rules were complied with both on and off screen. The lockdown episode will air on Friday 12th June at 1.45pm on BBC One.