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13 November 2020, 16:56
Why are the Gogglebox stars not social distancing? And are they breaking government guidelines? Here’s what we know…
Our favourite Gogglebox stars are back to cheer everyone up after another uncertain week.
But with England plunged into a second lockdown, many viewers have been left wondering whether the stars are allowed to continue filming the show in each other’s houses.
As of earlier this month (November 5), all ‘non essential’ shops have been closed, while pubs and restaurants have shut their doors.
The guidelines also state that households must not mix with others indoors, or in private gardens, unless they are in the same ‘support bubble’.
So what does this mean for the Gogglebox stars? And are they breaking the government guidelines?
During the first lockdown back in March, Channel 4 producers implemented changes to filming to make sure that it can continue to air every Friday evening at 9pm.
This means the cast no longer welcome the camera crew into their homes.
Instead, they have stationary cameras in their living rooms without any contact with production staff.
Ian Katz, Channel 4's director of programming, previously said at the time: "The coronavirus outbreak is an enormous creative challenge for all broadcasters and though it is having a profound impact on getting some of our productions onto screen.
"It’s also a time when public service broadcasters like Channel 4 can step up and help people navigate through the extraordinary challenges we all now face.”
As per the new rules in England, TV production is also allowed to continue.
But this has to be under strict health and sanitation guidelines, the UK Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) told Variety.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed in a series of tweets: "The changes mean people should WFH (work from home) where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – eg this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers."
Gyles Brandreth, who appeared on the Celebrity version of the show earlier this year with pal Maureen Lipman, also explained the rules after one fan asked: "How come you’re allowed to visit inside the house?"
To which he replied: "It's work because it's a TV show: we stay 2 metres apart & there's no one else in the building."
While many of the stars live together, some - including sisters Ellie and Izzi Warner - live in different households.
Izzi was temporarily replaced by Ellie's boyfriend Nat, as the sisters don't live together, but she returned a few weeks later sitting two metres away from her sister.
After Gogglebox received 163 Ofcom complaints for the sisters appearing in the same room, Channel 4 was forced to release a statement.
It explained: “Most of the families live together but where they don’t, they are complying with PHE [Public Health England] social distancing guidelines.
“Gogglebox will only film with families where it’s safe to do so. The health and safety of our cast and crew is paramount.”
Meanwhile, besties from Hull Jenny and Lee decided to isolate together during the first lockdown in March so they could continue filming.
After fans questioned why they were still filming, Lee replied on Twitter: "Well what can we say it’s Friday and it’s still on #Gogglebox," he wrote, continuing: "Jenny and me watching together as we are both on lockdown TOGETHER friends with no benefits I may add an hour of laughs stay safe stay well #StayHomeSavesLives."