EXCLUSIVE: Comcast’s European pay-TV broadcaster Sky is aiming to get back into scripted production in a big way from August, with a number of its high-profile British shows under starters’ orders to get shooting again.
After War Of The Worlds became the first UK drama series to go into production during the pandemic this week, industry chatter around restarts is intensifying, and Sky is said to be among those leading the charge.
Deadline has heard of at least five shows that are close to getting cameras rolling again over the coming weeks. August could see the return of Britannia, Temple, Breeders and Code 404. Other shows will start coming back online from September, including A Discovery Of Witches.
Of the August crop, Britannia is a full-blooded restart after Season 3 was forced to shut down in March when COVID-19 swept through TV production. The historical drama is produced by Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions and Vertigo Films, and stars The Walking Dead actor David Morrissey.
Meanwhile, Sky director of drama Cameron Roach has previously earmarked Season 2 of Mark Strong thriller Temple as an example of a show that will be “manageable” to make under coronavirus conditions because it is set-based and involves two-handers. Temple is made by Hera Pictures.
Comedy is also on the agenda. Avalon’s Sky and FX co-production Breeders, featuring Martin Freeman, and Code 404, the cop caper made by Kudos and Water & Power Productions, are also well into shoot preparations. Both shows are heading into their second season.
A Discovery Of Witches will return to production later in the year, with His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf gearing up for Season 3 of the supernatural drama. There was some industry talk that the Matthew Goode starrer could get cameras rolling in August, though Sky suggests that autumn is more likely. Shoots involving overseas filming will take longer after Roach said in April that it could be 2021 before these shows get back into production.
Two sources have told Deadline that Sky is being particularly supportive when it comes to finding solutions to the insurance gap, with the broadcaster prepared to shoulder some responsibility in the event of a second lockdown. The lack of coronavirus insurance has put a handbrake on restarts, but the industry is holding constructive talks with the government over an emergency fund that will act as a temporary solution.
Sky was one of the UK broadcasters that fed into new guidance published this week on close contact among cast and crew on-set. The safety protocols, which are designed to help shoots return to some sort of normality, recommend that people breaking two-meter social distancing rules should be tested at least once a week for coronavirus alongside daily symptom checks, such as temperature tests.
The scripted restarts follow Sky supporting CPL Productions entertainment shows A League Of Their Own and There’s Something About Movies back into production this month. Sky is also ramping up production elsewhere in Europe, with Superfilm and Sky Studios original Me And The Others resuming in Austria.