Production of two TV shows, Ten’s “Masked Singer” and Nine’s “Millionaire’s Hotseat” has been halted in Australia due to resurgence of the coronavirus. The two shows were both filming in different parts of the Docklands Studio in Melbourne, Victoria.
“Masked Singer” shut down on Saturday after seven members of the crew were revealed to have given positive tests for COVID-19. The presenters and production team has now been put into isolation. They include the show’s host Osher Gunsberg, singer Dannii Minogue and comedian Dave Hughes, who are both judges.
“The entire production team, including the masked singers, the host and panellists are now in self-isolation. They are all being monitored closely and are in constant contact with medical authorities. Network 10 is working closely with the Victorian Government and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. Network 10 is providing all crew with all the support and assistance possible,” the production said in a statement posted on social media.
“The Masked Singer” will continue to air 7.30pm Mondays and Tuesdays on 10, the company said. The episode being shot on Saturday was the finale.
It has now emerged that Victoria health authorities have also asked “Millionaire Hot Seat,” owned by rival channel Nine, to suspend filming in Docklands until at least the end of Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions. These restrictions are currently scheduled to lift in mid-September. For the moment “Millionaire Hot Seat” cast and crew have not been told to self-isolate.
The news was first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, which is also owned by Nine Entertainment. “Millionaire Hot Seat” is a weeknight game show that had previously been disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions. “Nine is now screening around two repeats and three new episodes weekly but may need to increase the frequency of repeats until filming resumes,” the Herald reported.
Due to a recent resurgence of the virus, Melbourne accounts for the majority of Australia’s COVID-19 cases. Australia has recorded 24, 915 cases of coronavirus, and 517 deaths. Of these, Melbourne has notched up 18,330 cases and 417 deaths.
Australia has a large production and post-production sector, and is one of the leading international destinations for so-called runaway productions. But the coronavirus has caused several of these to halt. In recent weeks the country has devised strict health protocols, unveiled a generous subsidy scheme to bring back large international movies and come up with a government guarantee system that takes the place of conventional insurance and should allow filming of local Australian film and TV shows to restart.
“Stage 4 restrictions only allow productions that were filming as at 11:59pm on 5 August 2020 to continue filming. This does not include productions that were in a filming hiatus or had not yet started filming,” Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said.
Fremantle’s long-running soap opera, “Neighbours” which is also shot in Melbourne, albeit on a different location, was one of the first TV shows to resume production after an initial hiatus. It restarted in late April, and employed special social distancing and other health protocols
At the time, producers said that had production not restarted, “Neighbours” would have run out of new episodes by June. It currently plays on Australia’s “Peach” (formerly Eleven) network, and has been exported to broadcasters in over 60 countries.