ITV Orders Lockdown Drama Series From 'Stan & Ollie' Writer Jeff Pope

Jeff Pope - H 2014
AP Images/Invision

Jeff Pope - H 2014

The four-part 'Isolation Stories' will be shot observing strict lockdown rules, with actors and families filming the scenes themselves and watched remotely by the directors.

U.K. broadcaster ITV has ordered a series of lockdown-related short dramas from Oscar-nominated writer and producer Jeff Pope (Stan & Ollie, Philomena) amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Isolation Stories, to be produced by Pope's Factual Drama label, part of ITV Studios, will comprise four 15-minute episodes. The cast is yet to be announced.

Each episode, written by award-winning screenwriters, will reflect what families are going through after weeks of lockdown, featuring moments that are "funny, sad, heartwarming and poignant."

Pope is executive producing the series along with Tom Dunbar (A Confession) and has written one of the episodes. Gaby Chiappe (The Level), Neil McKay (The Moorside, Appropriate Adult) and William Ivory (Torvill & Dean, Burton and Taylor) have also written one episode each.

Paul Whittington (White House Farm, Little Boy Blue) and Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession, Broadchurch) will each direct an episode. The series will be shot observing the strict rules of lockdown with actors and their families filming the scenes themselves, watched remotely by the directors.

"Like everybody else, I have been isolating at home, and in my case watching my wife suffering badly with the virus," says Pope. "I wanted to do something to catch the mood. I knew it would be very difficult to try and shoot dramas in these circumstances, but I felt the public would understand if things were a little rough and ready, if we at least had a go."

Adds Dunbar: "Exceptional circumstances require us to think in a brand new way about creating drama. Our priorities are the safety of all involved in the production and finding a way to work within all the restrictions to create something relevant and resonant."

The series was commissioned by ITV's head of drama, Polly Hill.

"It's amazing that Jeff has managed to make these short films so quickly, to reflect the times we are living in," she says. "These are moving and funny tales of isolation with an incredibly talented team on- and offscreen. They are stories told from isolation to an audience in isolation. It's not often drama can be made this quickly, so huge thanks to everyone involved in making this happen and I hope they bring some joy to the audience, in what we know are difficult times."

Isolation Stories will air in the coming weeks in the U.K. and will be distributed internationally by ITV's ITV Studios unit.