Coronation Street went above and beyond in order to film upcoming scenes as death and destruction hits the cobbles.
While restrictions have been lifted in everyday life, the TV world is still bound by coronavirus rules and viewers have somewhat got used to their favourite characters keeping apart at all times.
The start of the pandemic last year saw Corrie and the other major soaps shut down production for months while also having to change its running schedule in order for them to remain on air.
Plans for the ITV soap’s huge 60th anniversary last December had to be shelved but they did manage to film a post-pandemic stunt during the summer of 2020 when a car crash set caused chaos on the cobbles.
And Corrie was the first to air the first on-screen kiss between characters for months.
But bosses are set to go big with their latest scenes which have been dubbed “epic” by producer Iain MacLeod and the cast involved.
Later this month, in a week of episodes usually dubbed ‘Super Soap Week’, a catastrophic rainstorm is set to bring death and destruction to Weatherfield.
There’s set to be action above and below ground with the Platt’s sinkhole set to cause drama for two of the street’s residents.
And there’s also horror away from the street as the Alahan’s set off on their family holiday, only to cross paths with a prison van carrying gangster Harvey Gaskell – and he doesn’t stay in it for long as he plans a miraculous escape.
The box-office-worthy scenes were filmed over three weeks – both during the day and at night – and are set to rival the stunts seen during the 50th anniversary tram crash.
Special effects were used for the storm and the intricate underground sewerage system was designed and built at Space Studios in Manchester before being attached to a sophisticated pulley system so it could be lowered into a swimming pool for filming.
But in order to make the scenes as realistic as possible, the actors needed to get close.
However as mentioned, they’re still bound by certain restrictions.
“It certainly made things trickier,” Iain said. “And it wasn’t a return to post-Covid normality at all.”
This meant the soap had to create more than 70 separate ‘Covid Cohorts’ – or filming bubbles – between cast and crew, meaning they are subject to an additional testing regime.
“We had been somewhat used to doing that over the last 12 months,” Iain said. “I think we did 70 plus specific bubbling things around this big week so it was far in excess of what we’ve done before.
“There are certain things you can’t really do from two meteres away and we thought we know how to do this now. We’re very well steeped in the way of Covid-safe filming so we felt we could ramp it up just for this week and really go to down on these moments of closeness and intimacy that we’ve been having to ration for the last 12 months.”
It has been confirmed by Corrie that Harvey, Jenny and Johnny Connor, Dev, Asha and Aadi Alahan, Abi Franklin and Corey Brent all have big roles in the week of edge-of-your-seat episodes.
And Iain has said it’s “truly massive” as well as “heartfelt and humourous” in places.
“It’s got loads of twists in it and, I think, some stuff in there that you’ll never see coming,” he teased.
“It’s Coronation Street in microcosm – it’s got big drama, lots of heart, lots of humour and it’s got the spectacular stuff we do particularly well.
“And I think the only result is something more ambitious than anything we’ve done in the show before.”
But most of all, it’s for the loyal Corrie audience.
“None of in Coronation Street takes out viewers for granted,” Iain said. “I like to think we’ve given them an incredibly good selection of drama over the last 12 months.
“But one thing it probably hasn’t had as much of as it would probably have done is this big spectacle and I think soaps have got into this world of giving the audience a cinematic treat once a year and we haven’t been able to do this.
“So I like to think it is a bit of a reward for our long-term viewers.”