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Time star Sean Bean forced to take break from filming BBC drama – find out why

The cast and crew faced some challenges during production

Francesca Shillcock

Time on BBC is receiving plenty of praise from both fans and critics – but it seems that the production of the three-part series wasn't all smooth sailing. According to the series director, Lewis Arnold, leading star Sean Bean was forced to take a break from filming due to a Covid scare.

MORE: Time star Stephen Graham went to extreme lengths to prepare for role in gritty BBC drama

"We were filming in Liverpool during the height of the pandemic, we had to change the plan every day," Lewis explained to PA, adding: "We lost Sean Bean for 10 days and all of our main core cast because we had an incident with Covid."

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WATCH: Time on BBC starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham

Fortunately, the filming was able to wrap and the first episode aired on BBC last week. The prison drama focuses on the journey of Sean's character Mark Cobden, a former teacher in prison for causing death by dangerous driving. 

Over the three episodes, Mark battles life as an inmate, dealing with the pressure inside while trying to atone his previous behaviour.

Time also tells the story of Eric McNally, played by This Is England's Stephen Graham, a principled prison officer nicknamed the 'Boss' who forms a bond with Mark but has his own problems to navigate.

MORE: Stephen Graham's wife Hannah stars alongside him in BBC's Time - did you spot her?

MORE: Time: meet the cast of new BBC drama

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Sean Bean plays Mark Cobden in Time

Eric's son, Daniel, is residing in another prison but is facing frequent attacks from fellow inmates. As a result, the prison officer starts smuggling in contraband to bribe the prisoners to leave his son alone – leaving his job and reputation at risk.

Stephen is famed for his talent and dedication to his roles, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the Boardwalk Empire star went to extreme lengths to prepare for the part of Eric. The actor explained to the Telegraph that he shadowed a real-life prison officer to gauge an understanding of the job.

"I absorbed this fella like a sponge," he told the publication. "These prison guards, they're trying to do a job to the best of their ability. Their job is to protect themselves, protect the prisoners and make it a nice, reasonable, cohesive place where everyone can do their time, treated with respect." 

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