Shortland St producer describes Covid disruption as ‘a happy accident’

Shortland Street producer Oliver Driver said elements of Covid-19 were “a happy accident” for the show’s production.

He told 1News that although half the cast was cut off at one point, the production team was able to rewrite parts of the script “on the fly”.

“Sometimes you do these things and what you end up finding in panicked emergencies is great. There were some really nice moments where other characters had to pick up little bits of other characters’ stories and that actually added to the feel of a busy hospital,” Driver said.

“There’s actually some things that we’ve learned that we’re going to take into the show and be like, ‘We really like it, let’s keep doing some more.'”

The cast of Shortland Street.

After two years of Covid-19, Driver told 1News it was time for the Kiwis to move on.

“His [Covid-19] been such a Boogeyman for so long in our country, and rightfully so, because we were kind of trying to do a knockout and hold [it] our strategy.

“But that kind of feeling of fear of getting it and fear of other people getting it, we have to move on now because they all come back, you know. It’s not like you have Omicron and that’s it won’t be coming back,” he said.

While most people who receive Omicron recover, a UK study has found that even mild Covid-19 infections can lead to “significant” brain changes.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero also warned that for some, including people with disabilities, Omicron still posed a risk.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Health reported seven more deaths of people with Covid-19.

Shortland Street is filmed five weeks in advance and shown every night of the week on TVNZ 2.

Driver said, “We’re not the kind of show that can just suspend filming for a few weeks.”

Covid-19 was written into the Shortland Street storyline to some extent, but Driver said it was difficult because he didn’t want it to take over the show.

“It’s really ironic to shoot a show in a hospital that’s why we also can’t reflect the realities of what’s going on, hospitals are massively overcrowded with huge amounts of extreme stuff going on and we can’t show that in our little world. It’s just not possible,” he said.

The show came to a halt during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, but has since returned to our screens with far fewer misses.

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