Transmission of ITV’s flagship soaps has been dramatically reduced amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
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.
Coronation Street has five cast members who are over 70 and have been advised to stay at home.
And today they’ve announced 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.
The broadcaster said the decision had been made to keep much-loved shows on air for as long as possible.
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.
“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.”
Productions of BBC Studios dramas including River City, Casualty, Doctors and Holby City has also been shelved “until further notice”.
The broadcaster has 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.
It means EastEnders will not air tomorrow or Friday.
EastEnders’ senior cast are June Brown (Dot Cotton), Rudolph Walker (Patrick Trueman) and Laila Morse (Mo Slater) while Emmerdale’s elders are Chris Chittell (Eric Pollard), Diane Sugden (Elizabeth Estensen), Patrick Mower (Rodney Blackstock) and Steve Halliwell (Zak Dingle).
The statement read: “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.”
In a statement about EastEnders, a BBC spokesperson added: “In light of the spread of Covid-19, filming on #EastEnders will be postponed until further notice… We have also taken the decision to reduce the amount of episodes we broadcast each week to two.
“Episodes will now air on Mondays, 8pm and Tuesdays, 7.30pm.”
It comes after filming was wrapped up on other major BBC shows including Line of Duty, Silent Witness and Peaky Blinders.