The highly-anticipated fifth season of Netflix drama The Crown has suffered a major setback. It's been confirmed that filming for the series has been halted for the Christmas holidays ahead of schedule following a mass COVID-19 outbreak on set.
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The Mail Online reports that according to an insider working on the royal drama, production immediately ground to a halt on Wednesday after at least eight crew members tested positive. It's believed that those affected are now self-isolating in line with current government guidelines.
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A spokesperson for the series confirmed on Thursday evening: "The Crown finished filming one day earlier than planned for the Christmas break following a few positive cases within the team, thus ensuring others' safety and so that everyone on production can enjoy a festive break with their loved ones."
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The UK has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in the last week due to the new Omicron variant. The UK reported more than 88,000 individuals had received positive test results on Thursday 16 December, the highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began.
It's believed that shooting - which is taking place across the UK and at Elstree Studios in north London - will resume in early January, though exact dates aren't yet known. The outbreak comes days after Doctor Foster actor Bertie Carvel and Lydia Leonard, best known for her role in Last Christmas, were spotted in costume for the first time as Tony and Cherie Blair.
Production has been shut down after a Covid-19 outbreak on set
Season five, which will focus on the early-to-mid 1990s, will feature a brand new cast taking over as the royal family. Replacing Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II will be award-winning actress Imelda Staunton, while The Two Popes star Jonathan Pryce will take on the role of Prince Philip.
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Meanwhile, after Emma Corrin's fantastic portrayal, Elizabeth Debicki will be her replacement to play an older Princess Diana while Dominic West will play Prince Charles.
Like previous instalments, season five is expected to consist of ten 60-minute episodes and is set to arrive on the streaming site in November 2022.
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