The hit BBC drama Peaky Blinders is being investigated over claims it has broken Covid-19 safety rules.
The producers have been accused of putting some of the show’s crew at risk after one of the staff working on the sixth and final series of the show is alleged to have continued on set despite recording a positive Covid-19 test.
Filming on the globally successful Birmingham-based gangster series was paused earlier this week, with a spokesman for the show saying at the time it was because of “a false positive test for a member of the crew”.
But crew members claim that filming carried on for a few hours after the result until another member of the staff discovered and halted filming.
The crew member who tested positive subsequently had another test, believed to be an NHS one, which came back negative and shooting resumed. Some crew are angry, however, as they say they question why filming was not shut down immediately after the first test result.
One alleged that some of those working on set with him did not know that the crew member had tested positive and others are not keen to continue filming on Peaky Blinders.
The claims are particularly concerning as, when it was announced Peaky Blinders would resume filming in January after being forced to halt last March by the pandemic, the production’s website said: “The Peaky Blinders production team have developed comprehensive production protocols to ensure that the series will be produced in a safe and responsible manner, and in accordance with government guidelines, during this time of global pandemic.”
The TV industry has worked hard to try to establish guidelines to ensure the safe return of shows during the pandemic, with the help of the government-backed £500m film and TV production restart insurance scheme.
Although Peaky Blinders airs on the BBC, the show is co-produced by two companies: Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect. The investigation could have implications for the show’s insurance.
With premium drama on BBC One ranging from £650,000 to £1m an hour, any delay in filming is costly. Plus with its worldwide following, thanks to its availability on Netflix, the conclusion to the tale of the Shelby brothers is eagerly anticipated. It is also particularly poignant after the recent death of Helen McCrory, who played family matriarch Polly.
Union Bectu confirmed that it was investigating the allegations. Spencer MacDonald, the national secretary, said: “The safety protocols are in place to create a safe working environment for cast and crew. Therefore the production should have informed everyone immediately and stopped filming. Otherwise a lapse like this could have contributed towards the spread of the virus. We are currently waiting for the production to respond.”
A spokesman for the show would not confirm who had the test, for “data protection” reasons, and said: “Filming was stood down on Peaky Blinders because of a false positive test result for a member of the crew. In line with protocol, this person took an NHS test and anyone who came into contact with them self-isolated – the safety of our team on Peaky Blinders is of paramount importance. The NHS test came back negative and filming resumed on Thursday.”