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Work on the newly restricted Emmerdale set resumed in May

A £500 million scheme aimed at kick-starting UK film and TV production has been announced.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday the fund will help companies unable to get coronavirus insurance.

The scheme will be used to cover the costs of projects being delayed or abandoned due to issues relating to the virus.

Filming almost ground to a halt during lockdown, with shows like Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty delayed.

As restrictions have eased, many productions have been keen to restart – but found they were unable to do so because insurers would not provide cover for further disruptions caused by Covid-19.

The government’s scheme effectively offers that insurance, as long as productions are spending at least half of their budget domestically.

“From award-winning dramas, to iconic comedies and revered documentaries, the UK makes the films and TV shows the world can’t wait to watch,” said Dowden.

“Today’s announcement means more clapperboards snapping into action in studios across Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, Watford and many more.”

‘Jump-start to get the cameras rolling’

He added: “Our screen industries are high growth, jobs creating and showcase the best of British creativity and innovation, and I’m pleased we can give them this jump-start to get the cameras rolling again on this £12 billion industry.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak added that it is “vital” that productions get back underway.

Popular programmes, including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Top Gear, have now resumed filming, while adhering new social distancing guidelines.

‘The biggest hurdle’

The government’s scheme was welcomed by leading industry figures.

BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: “The issue of securing coronavirus-related insurance quickly emerged as the biggest hurdle for independent producers…so the government’s £500 million scheme is really good news for our production business, jobs and for the economy.”

John McVay, the chief executive of the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact), said it showed authorities had listened to their prior concerns.

“We have some of the best technical crew, the best actors, the best writers, the best directors,” McVay told the BBC in May.

“All of that is a wonderful happy accident, which somehow has happened in the UK over the past 20-odd years and we don’t want to pull back from that as that’s been a hard fought-for position.”

Dowden also announced more detail on the government’s £1.57bn cultural recovery fund, including the creation of a new board to help distribute the money, which will be run by Sir Damon Buffini, chair of the National Theatre.

Criteria for applications will be published on Wednesday.

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