ENTERTAINMENT
28/12/2020 06:00 GMT

12 Times Social Distancing Inspired Stars To Think Outside The Box In 2020

From distanced performances, incredible live streams and moments of genuine emotion, there's been some incredible creativity that has come out of the pandemic.

Just 12 months ago, the vast majority of us had never heard of the concept of social distancing. Now, it pervades almost every aspect of our daily lives. 

As painful as it has been, and as fed up with it as we all are, there’s no denying the challenges it has presented – particularly in the entertainment industry – have led to some real moments of creativity that we probably couldn’t have imagined in a pre-Covid world. 

Here’s a celebration of just 12 moments that were truly dreamt up outside the box...

1. Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield install a cuddle curtain on This Morning

 

After months of sitting apart on the This Morning sofa, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield came up with an ingenious way of being able to share a hug over the summer. 

The pair installed a plastic cuddle curtain in the ITV daytime show’s studio, and while the whole thing might have looked rather ridiculous, it ended up being strangely emotional to watch. 

2. The Backstreet Boys reunite for a socially-distanced performance 

Speaking of things that were strangely emotional, the Backstreet Boys had us in tears back in the early days of the pandemic when they reunited for a special performance over Zoom. 

The boys recorded a surreal coronavirus-era rendition version of their hit I Want It That Way for Elton John’s Living Room Concert, which was televised in the US in March. 

The five lads –  AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell – were all social distancing in their respective homes in America but, through the magic of technology, filmed a unique version of their most famous song.

It certainly put our HouseParty quiz sessions to shame, that’s for sure. 

3. Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse reunited on Strictly Come Dancing for a performance like no other

 

Getting Strictly Come Dancing on air this year proved to be a massive feat, with the pro dancers forming a bubble to record the group routines, before then quarantining in order to bubble up with their celebrity partners. 

Many had assumed that this would have meant Oti Mabuse would have not been able to reunite with last year’s champ Kelvin Fletcher for the traditional winner’s performance during the launch show, having already formed a bubble with new partner Bill Bailey

However, the pair managed to navigate the rules by creating a distanced version of one of their most famous routines, which saw them remain two metres apart throughout. 

4. The Drag Race finale takes creativity to the next level

 

With the final of RuPaul’s Drag Race usually filmed in an auditorium full of people, producers had to go back to the drawing board when the season 12 finale rolled around. 

Instead of waiting until TV production was up and running again, producers thought outside of the box and produced a remote finale, with the final three queens performing from home. 

And rather than being another one of those Zoom-produced shows we all got bored of watching in lockdown, the Drag Race finale ended up bringing a whole new element of creativity to the show, with some of the most memorable finale lip syncs ever.

5. Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington pretended it was New Year’s Eve (in September) at the Emmys

 

“We’re having a New Year’s Eve party” declared Kerry Washington from the Emmys this September, before a socially-distanced Reece Witherspoon revealed: “Because we’re ready for this year to be over.”

If only 2020 really had ended three months ago... 

6. And while we’re on the subject of The Emmys, what about those hazmat suits?

Invision/AP

The only sign that this robotic-looking black suit has anything to do with the glamorous world of awards season in Hollywood is the Emmys logo on it in block white capitals.

This hazmat suit was designed to allow people to get within close proximity of others while remaining safe from the virus.

Trophy presenters wore these to present winners with their awards trophies at this year’s Emmys – although to be honest we’re not sure we’d have stuck around to be greeted by anyone wearing this if they approached us, no matter the giant trophy in their hand...

“Not only is this a fun and irreverent visual, but it also ensures the health and safety of all of our winners and the presenter by following all of the health and safety protocols — with a twist,” press material said.

7. Jennifer Aniston’s way of eliminating the virus certainly was unexpected 

 

In our final nostalgic moment from this year’s Emmys, here’s Jennifer Aniston using a fire extinguisher to remove any potential virus from an envelope containing nominees for an award she presented.

Hilariously – or perhaps terrifyingly for those in the room – the fire kept on relighting itself, and the joke quickly became old news as Jennifer transferred all her energy from the award handout to literally putting out a fire.

8. Lady Gaga sports the ultimate facemask at the VMAs

 

Sticking with the awards show theme though, Lady Gaga put on quite the show at this year’s MTV VMAs. 

While you might have expected a pared-down performance given the circumstances, she through all her usual levels of production as she took to the stage at the virtual ceremony. 

In fact, you would probably only have noticed it took place during the pandemic due to Gaga’s face mask that actually doubled up as a soundwave machine, and probably wouldn’t have actually looked out of place in any other of her performances. 

9. Kylie’s Infinite Disco live stream was a masterclass in how to put on a remote concert

 

There’ve been various live streams during the pandemic, and while they’ve all been worthy of praise for helping to keep the music industry alive during this strange time, Kylie Minogue stepped things up a gear when she put on a remote concert to promote her latest album DISCO. 

Rather than dance about her living room singing her famous hits, the pop queen put on a full-scale, socially-distant production that would not have looked out of place on an actual tour.

The Infinite Disco show proved to be a huge moment for many pop fans, and just weeks later, Dua Lipa put on her impressive Studio 2054 live stream, which also featured Kylie as a guest. performer 

10. Musician Sam Fender hosts one of the first  socially distant concerts

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Newcastle Upon Tyne, and singer Sam Fender was one of the first artists to get back on a main stage, IRL, in a pandemic. The only difference was the audience were distanced, with each group confined to small metal pens with grassy walkways in-between.

Truly an image we wouldn’t have believed if you’d shown it to us 12 months ago. 

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images
Fans wait in socially distanced enclosures to see Sam Fender 

Waiters delivered drinks to the seating pods though so there wasn’t any need to stand in bustling queues at bars – something we definitely do not miss. 

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images
A waitress walks between socially distanced enclosures selling drinks to fans 

11. In fact, entire festivals even happened – and we were at one of the first socially distanced ones

 

Dancing within a hexagonal pod and being thrown out for leaving it is hardly the script most of us are used to when we attend free-loving, free-thinking music festivals, but at Gisburne Park Pop Up in summer 2020 it was the only way to proceed safely.

Founder Robyn Isherwood is seen as industry-leading for how she got the festival going, against hurdles from the council. “I’ve never had such a large health and safety document, we worked together with the council to get it right,” Robyn told HuffPost UK. “They came down on the opening night!”

Read our report to find out more about what it was like watch the video from the festival above.

12. And finally, Greg James noticed a hilarious new trend among celebrities

Greg James’ trademark brand of silliness has been one of the constants that have kept millions of Radio 1 listeners going over the last nine months, as he’s found ridiculous ways of keeping them all entertained. 

And just earlier this month, he served up another viral piece of content after he spotted a trend that has emerged as social distancing has continued – celebrities using the phrase “socially distanced, of course”. 

Trust us, as Greg says, once you hear it, you won’t be able to unhear it.