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Coronation Street stars over 70 to be written out due to coronavirus outbreak

Daily Record logoDaily Record 18/03/2020 Magdalene Dalziel
Rula Lenska, William Roache posing for a picture: Ken and Claudia move to Stillwater © PA Ken and Claudia move to Stillwater

Stars aged 70 and over will be written out of Coronation Street amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Bosses have confirmed five cast members who are considered to be in the at-risk category will be given the opportunity to stay home in accordance with government guidelines.

It means William Roache (Ken Barlow), Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole), Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts) and Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) will not be filming scenes due to being in the most vulnerable group when it comes to the deadly bug.

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A Coronation Street spokeswoman told The Mirror: “With regards to over 70s we will be adhering to all government guidelines and following the appropriate steps.”

The Mirror reports show writers are currently working on writing the characters out of plots but they might still appear in scenes until around May, because filming takes place in advance.

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More on this story:

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The news comes after ITV bosses announced the number of episodes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale will be slashed going forward, in a bid to keep the soaps on the air for as long as possible.

The move is a response to the pandemic as government advice encourages people across the UK to avoid public places and large gatherings, as well as try to work from home wherever possible.

Sue Nicholls looking at the camera: Audrey won't be on our screens © Provided by Mirror Audrey won't be on our screens

Coronation Street episodes will be temporarily halved from six a week to three; while Emmerdale will now air five times a week instead of six.

A statement from ITV today reads: "The continued transmission of both soaps is a priority to all of us at ITV and to our audiences who enjoy the shows.

"Whilst carefully adhering to the latest health advice from the Government and Public Health England, our production teams are continuing to film episodes in Manchester and Leeds. 

"With this change of transmission pattern it will ensure we have great new soap episodes coming to air every weekday night until at least the early summer.

"With effect from Monday 30 March Coronation Street and Emmerdale's scheduling pattern will be changing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

William Roache et al. looking at each other: Ken got a shock when Norris claimed they were in a 'cult' © Provided by Mirror Ken got a shock when Norris claimed they were in a 'cult' 'Emmerdale will air Monday to Friday at 7pm and Coronation Street Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7.30pm.

"Emmerdale will air Monday to Friday at 7pm."

Emmerdale's senior cast includes Chris Chittell (Eric Pollard), Elizabeth Estensen (Diane Sugden), Patrick Mower (Rodney Blackstock) and Steve Halliwell (Zak Dingle).

And the announcement is another blow for soap fans, on a day which also saw filming halted at a range of BBC productions, including Eastenders and River City.

The broadcaster has also decided to make the decision to cut down episodes to two a week instead of four to help the programme "ration out" after filming has ceased.

Steve McFadden et al. looking at the camera: EastEnders filming has been postponed © BBC EastEnders filming has been postponed

EastEnders' senior stars include June Brown (Dot Cotton), Rudolph Walker (Patrick Trueman) and Laila Morse ( Big Mo Harris).

A spokesperson said: "In light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, it has been decided that filming on EastEnders will be postponed until further notice. The decision was made after the latest government update.

"We will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England.

"We have also taken the decision to reduce the amount of episodes we broadcast each week to two, so that we can ensure the audience can continue to enjoy EastEnders in their homes for as long as possible."

Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak around the world in photos

Click or tap here for the latest travel advice for people travelling back to the UK from affected areas, including whether to self-isolate. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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