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How Covid-19 rewrote Line of Duty's Belfast scenes

Police drama's creator tells of 'invisible' changes

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Action: actors Vicky McClure and Martin Compston during Line of Duty filming in Belfast

Action: actors Vicky McClure and Martin Compston during Line of Duty filming in Belfast

Action: actors Vicky McClure and Martin Compston during Line of Duty filming in Belfast

Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio says filming the next instalment of top police drama in a Covid-safe environment in Belfast has meant having to rebuild sets and rewrite scenes.

In recent weeks, stars from the hit BBC series, including Vicky McClure who plays DI Kate Fleming and Martin Compton, who portrays DS Steve Arnott, have been spotted in various locations around the city.

Enniskillen actor Adrian Dunbar, who plays Supt Ted Hastings and newcomers Shalom Brune-Franklin and Perry Fitzpatrick also appeared on set.

Filming on the sixth series was halted in March amid the coronavirus pandemic but resumed in September with strict guidelines to ensure the new episodes are produced as safely as possible.

Mercurio has previously assured fans of the show that the cast and crew are aiming to be back on air "as soon as possible".

Since returning to the set in Belfast, he says he has been working hard to make the show Covid-safe.

"Like if we can do a scene outdoors rather than indoors then that's really helpful for social distancing, and virus transmission is thought to be much lower outdoors," he told The Sunday Times.

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When asked about the impact of this on the famous glass-walled room where anti-corruption unit AC-12 pile in for extended interrogation scenes that can take days to film, Mercurio said: "We have created much more ventilation around that box and altered how we go about shooting it. The cameras are further away and we're using remote control cameras, so the crew can be some distance away.

"We've subtly increased the table size, so the actors are further apart and, when they're not in shot, we have Perspex screens between them," he added.

"Our intention is that all these things will be invisible."

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Jed Mercurio

Jed Mercurio

Jed Mercurio

The next instalment of the police thriller will feature a brand new case for AC-12, which is investigating DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald), the senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder case.

The new series, now due to air on BBC One next year, will also see the arrival of newcomers Andi Osho and Prasanna Puwanarajah.

Meanwhile, comedian Tommy Tiernan says he has no idea when filming will resume on the hit Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls.

Filming for the third instalment is currently on hold until the entire cast is able to reunite in Northern Ireland.

Tiernan - who plays Da or Gerry - told RTE Radio 1: "Some television shows have been made and films shot around the country but we've had no word from Derry Girls yet.

"God only knows but hopefully some time next year.

"There's a fierce amount of people to be free for that to happen. There's a central cast of about 10 and then every episode has another 10 people at least so it's a lot of people to have their diaries co-ordinated."


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