Coronavirus will feature in future episodes of Coronation Street but will not “dominate” the soap’s storylines, its producer has confirmed.
The programme will reflect the real world by showing its characters following hand-washing protocol, while Weatherfield’s restaurants will shift to offering food deliveries.
ITV has halted production on Coronation Street and Emmerdale and reduced its transmission of both soaps to make the episodes which have already been recorded last longer.
Iain MacLeod said the show appealed to viewers because it “reflects modern Britain” and that, when filming restarted, ignoring the pandemic on-screen would turn Coronation Street into “a parallel fantasy land”.
“We took the view that it has to exist in our world,” he said.
“However, I am also aware that people tune into Coronation Street for escapism, to some degree, and to see drama and stories that they would never normally experience in their own lives, and stuff they would normally never see in their own living rooms played out on screen.
“While the virus will exist in Coronation Street, we were also keen that it wouldn’t dominate every single story and every single scene.
“If your lives are anything like mine, certainly coronavirus is pretty much the only topic of conversation in my house, but people wouldn’t want to tune into Coronation Street and see every scene was people talking about coronavirus.
“It will be there. You will be able to see evidence of it in the way people behave – hand-washing protocols and things like that.
“The way our businesses are run will be tweaked to do more takeaways and the like, as food outlets are doing in the real world.
“But we will still continue telling the same brilliant, dramatic stories with the healthy dollop of comedy that we always do, because to do otherwise would be, again, to turn the show into something the viewers don’t recognise.
“It will be there. It will be handled with a light touch. Other than that, our storytelling will be business as usual.”
MacLeod said the long-running show would continue to air “hard-hitting” storylines, and not move towards showing only light-hearted content.
“People want to watch drama and they want to watch the same hard-hitting stories that Corrie does so well. They don’t want suddenly to be watching a different programme,” he said.
A recent episode of Coronation Street saw Yasmeen Nazir (Shelley King) stab her husband Geoff Metcalfe (Ian Bartholomew) following months of coercive control abd abuse.
MacLeod said fans should expect Geoff to receive “comeuppance” for his coercive behaviour before the end of the year, despite the changed schedules due to the lockdown.
He said: “The timelines have obviously been shunted around slightly as a result of the lockdown and things like that but I think it is fair to imagine it will certainly be this year, we think.
“What form that comeuppance takes is still in discussion. What we wanted to make sure, in the way we told the story, was that it was a redemptive ending for Yasmeen.”
Coronation Street continues on ITV.