Entertainment TV The Bachelor cast gets up close and personal – pandemic be damned
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The Bachelor cast gets up close and personal – pandemic be damned

Locklan Gilbert
Lockdown love: How is this season of The Bachelor handling the pandemic? Photo: Getty/Instagram/thebachelorau
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Nothing says ‘hygiene’ and ‘social distancing’ like swapping saliva with one of your 20 girlfriends.

As the rest of the nation waits with bated breath to see if season two of the coronavirus pandemic will take hold as it has in Victoria, it seems some reality TV contestants didn’t get the memo.

Production on The Bachelor has picked up again after the pandemic brought filming to a halt in March, but fans shouldn’t expect the same intimate, romantic Bachelor they have come to love.

Judging from some candid photographs taken when filming resumed, however, this year’s leading man definitely isn’t worried about keeping 1.5 metres apart from any potential mates.

Locklan ‘Locky’ Gilbert, who found fame on Survivor, was spotted having a deep conversation with a mystery blonde in recent days.

Pictures posted to The Daily Mail show the chat was followed by a private pash in the gardens of the Sydney-based Bachie mansion.

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Filming resumed last week after cast and crew were tested for COVID-19 twice following mandatory isolation.

Although the exact air date remains unclear, the show’s eighth season is due to start next month after the third season of Bachelor in Paradise wraps up.

Better date than never …

Stephen Tate, Channel 10’s head of entertainment, shed light on the team’s interesting approach to keeping the spark alive throughout the hiatus.

“We were three-quarters of the way through the series when we went into lockdown, and basically all the cast returned home,” Mr Tate told The Australian.

“So we would find ways for the show to continue in the same way that dating continues in the wider world. We call it ‘Love in Lockdown’. They continued to virtually date, both as single dates and as group dates.”

With Bachelor dates already making for cringeworthy viewing, the added awkwardness of a virtual Zoom date will be sure to have audiences hiding behind their hands.

TV commentator David Knox from TV Tonight said while virtual dating might not produce the same steamy scenes Bachelor fans are used to, viewers should cut the show some slack.

“I imagine it would be look odd to the audience,” Mr Knox told The New Daily.

“Some shows like [Have You Been Paying Attention?] lend themselves better than others to social distancing.

“For dating shows it’s inherently part of the premise to canoodle. You gotta feel for them trying to find a way forward.”

The new reality

As for how Australian reality shows will manage to keep their viewers interested in the age of social distancing, Mr Knox thinks some shows are better placed than others.

The Voice and MasterChef show what can be achieved both with their content and ratings,” he said.

But The Living Room reboot took some criticism for elbow bumping and then apparently discarding social distancing rules.

The other issue is the time it takes to make and air a program.

“Zooming and social distancing may be the last thing we care to see by October, November … then again, do we have a choice?” he said.

Back in March, Channel 10 made the decision to halt production to adhere to strict lockdown regulations imposed by the government.

“The health and safety of our participants and crew members is our No.1 priority,” a statement from Channel 10 read at the time.

“These are extremely difficult times for all Australians and for our industry, and the full extent of those difficulties will not be known for some time to come.

“Our decision to halt production was made after considering all available options. We will resume production when it is safe to do so.”