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BBC Studioworks ensures Covid-safe environment for Strictly’s return

New protocols include Perspex screens in editing suites, remote camera heads on the show floor and editors and producers working remotely

BBC Studioworks has put in place a number of Covid-19 safe protocols ahead of Strictly Come Dancing’s return to Saturday night TV.

Both the main show and BBC Two’s It Takes Two will be based at Studiowork’s Elstree production hub.

Additional air handling units have been hired to fill George Lucas Stage 2 with fresh air, 60,000m3 per hour to be precise, and the fresh air system within the gallery suite has been upgraded to ensure sufficient air changes.

The galleries are also operating with social distancing protocols in place. Bespoke Perspex screens have been put in place across all the gallery suites and a number of gallery-based operatives and production staff have been relocated to cabins outside.

On the studio floor, some of the operated cameras have been replaced by remote heads and all other cameras are spaced more than two metres apart.

Perspex vocal booths have been created for the band’s singers, each with a bespoke air extraction system. Each booth has also been rigged with a monitor with a live feed of musical director Dave Arch.

Studioworks has also mandated that microphones will not be shared across the series-run. Each microphone is clearly named for its specific user and sanitised after each use by BBC Studioworks’ sound team. To avoid issues around proximity, the talent are responsible for micing themselves, with BBC Studioworks crew, in PPE, advising and guiding throughout the process.

To limit their exposure due to the propelling of vapour, the singer’s hand microphones remain in place within their booths throughout the series and will also be sanitised in-situ.

Talkbacks, walky-talkies and headsets have been assigned to individuals and will be sanitised after every use, with headsets bagged and named.

BBC Studioworks has also adapted the way it facilitates both show’s post production needs. Previously, both Strictly and It Takes Two made use of BBC Studioworks’ Avid Symphony suites at its Elstree edit village. However, this year editors and producers for Strictly are working remotely at home, with access to Avids and the logging system via a secure VPN.

“As we collectively steer our way through the Covid-19 pandemic, entertainment shows such as Strictly are more important than ever, offering audiences a big dose of normality, fun and high energy content,” said Meryl McLaren, commercial manager, BBC Studioworks. “Making the Strictly ballroom a Covid-secure environment has been a real collaborative effort between BBC Studioworks and BBC Studios, with months of planning and preparation. Now we just can’t wait to let the dancing begin and for it to hit our screens.”