Netflix's Witcher May Be One of the First Shows to Resume Production in the UK

Netflix's Witcher May Be One of the First Shows to Resume Production in the UK

A new report says the show's studio is finalizing safety procedures for reopening.

Henry Cavill may have to put down the Warhammer miniatures and put on his Geralt wig again soon. Earlier this week, new guidelines were approved by governmental and public health authorities in the U.K., and a new report says that the studio near London where season 2 of Netflix's The Witcher is being produced is readying to reopen soon.

Bob Terry, managing director of Arborfield Studios, tells Deadline that work on opening back up for production after a shutdown spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has already started. Over the next two weeks, Terry says Arborfield will finalize its safety procedures.

On Sunday, the U.K. approved new guidelines drafted by the British Film Commission and the British Film Institute, which The Guardian says "include rules on physical distancing, safety training and temperature tests." The Guardian named the The Witcher alongside Warner Brothers' The Batman and Disney's live-action Little Mermaid film as U.K. productions likely to resume work soon, and with Arborfield pushing to reopen, it seems that's the likely plan for Netflix. At this time, Netflix has made no public announcements regarding when work on The Witcher will resume.

Amongst Netflix's current live-action slate, The Witcher could very well be the streamer's top concern. Netflix made a point of boasting high viewership numbers for the show's debut, and its massive success even helped sales of CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt skyrocket, making last year the 2015 title's second-best year on record.

Production of the second season was put on hold due to the pandemic in mid-March. On the same day news broke regarding the pause, Game of Thrones actor and Witcher season 2 cast member Kristofer Hivju announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. A month later in April, Hivju confirmed that he and his family were fully recovered from the disease after quarantining, having only experienced "mild symptoms."

The British government has been widely criticized for its handling of COVID-19, with the country's death toll and number of reported cases having risen dramatically following a relatively lax initial public health response. A recent analysis from The Guardian concludes the U.K. has one of the highest excess death rates during the pandemic amongst European countries.

Transparency from the TV and film productions that are resuming work could go a long way, both in spreading useful practices between companies and in assuring the public that the work is being done safely. When production on The Witcher resumes, Netflix will likely try to keep everything about its plot as close to the vest as it ever has, but given the dangers of COVID-19, hopefully the health of the cast and crew takes the priority.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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