TV shows have had to make significant changes to adapt to COVID-19, with the new measures aimed at ensuring the well-being of casts and crews. Game shows have a particularly difficult challenge due to the inclusion of contestants as well as a live audience. CBS’ The Price is Right has been out of production for months, like so many other shows, but it’s finally getting back to filming, with some alterations of its own.
The Price is Right returned to the studio this week to restart shooting, though the show will now be without a live audience, which will be a first in the nearly 50 years it’s been on the air. Deadline also reports that the show’s set at Television City in LA has been redesigned to be more COVID-friendly.
The rebuilt set includes decking, which now sits in the area that the audience used to occupy. In addition, contestants on Bidder’s Row will now be spaced six feet apart. New protocols will also include regular testing and production zones and, as you would expect, masks and shields will be used as well.
While all of these changes represent a major shift for the veteran series, the lack of an audience could be the biggest adjustment but, as showrunner Evelyn Warfel tells the trade, it was the best way to maintain safety on the Drew Carey-hosted program:
That was the hardest part of all of this; the audience is such a core part of that show, and so, for the first time in 48 years we’ve had to look at it and go okay, we’re bringing the show back and it’s going to be different and we have to hope and know that everyone understands what’s going on and how serious it is and that we want to bring back this show for everyone, but it has to look different. If we want to come back, we have to do it safely.
Unfortunately, The Price is Right is unable to utilize a virtual audience since that would allow people to look up prices with the help of the internet. Warfel does believe, though, that any disappoint that viewers have about this will be soothed by the fact that all of the show’s signature games are back:
We’re still going to have the same great games. We figured out how to bring all 77 games back while maintaining social distancing. So, they’ll see all their favorite games. It was also important to me to keep the ‘Come on Down.’
It may honestly take a while for audiences to get used to seeing The Price is Right without an excited studio audience. Yet it’s clear that Evelyn Warfel and her team at CBS have put a lot of thought into moving the beloved show forward during these uncertain times.