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Coronavirus fears halt Line of Duty filming in Northern Ireland

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Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

PA Media

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

Filming of the latest series of Line of Duty has been postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The BBC drama, which has be nominated for several Baftas, follows the investigations of specialist police anti-corruption unit AC-12.

Series six of the show, starring Enniskillen-born Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston, began filming in Belfast last month.

The makers of Birmingham crime saga Peaky Blinders, which stars Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory, have also decided not to start filming the sixth series of the cult show.

A BBC spokesperson said: “In light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, the producers Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions of Peaky Blinders S6 have postponed filming, and World Productions on Line of Duty S6 have suspended filming, both in consultation with and supported by the BBC.

"We will continue to review all productions on a case by case basis and will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and Public Health England.”

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said that coronavirus has raised challenging issues for everyone working on television and film sets - particularly freelancers.

Commenting on the postponement of filming Line of Duty series six, he said: “Shutting down a production is a matter for the production company and the broadcaster and we fully support them in the decisions they make. The coronavirus has raised challenging issues for everyone working on sets; slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health of crew is of paramount importance.

"However, we are concerned that a large number of freelance crew work on productions like this and they are now facing an unknown period of time without secure income.”

The announcement comes after cast and crew were pictured filming Line of Duty in north Belfast at the weekend.

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Armed police in a car during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Armed police in a car during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A man wearing a balaclava is shot by armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Armed police chase men wearing balaclavas from a bookmakers during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Armed police chase men wearing balaclavas from a bookmakers during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Jed Mercurio on set during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Jed Mercurio on set during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Armed police during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Armed police in a car during Line of Duty filming on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on March 15th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Dozens of armed police officers and men wearing balaclavas were filming what appears to be an action scene on Cavehill Road and Sunningdale Park on Sunday.

While none of the main stars were spotted, the show's writer and creator Jed Mercurio was pictured overseeing the action.

Production on Viking revenge flick The Northman, which was set to start filming across Northern Ireland, has also been suspended for six weeks.

The Northman, set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century, stars Aussie megastar Nicole Kidman, brothers Alexander and Bill Skarsgard and Emma actress Anya Taylor-Joy.

A film set had already been built in the scenic and remote location of Torr Head, which was closed off to the public.

Director Robert Eggers had been living in Northern Ireland in preparation for the film which was expected to be shot over 19 weeks.

A spokesman for Northern Ireland Screen said: "The Northman, based at Belfast Harbour Studios, has gone on a six-week hiatus due to the current concerns with coronavirus.

"Depending on how the situation develops that hiatus could get shorter or longer but the producers fully intend to make the film."

Belfast Telegraph