A Bucks actor who was in Italy shooting a film about a spreading plague while coronavirus continued to claim lives in the country has shared his fears as he returns back to the UK.

Charlie Merriman, from Beaconsfield, was caught up in the coronvirus panic out in the Veneto region of Italy at a time when the deadly virus first surfaced in the country.

Ironically, Charlie, 26, was in Italy to film an adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century Italian literary classic, The Decameron, at UNESCO world heritage site, Villa Godi Malinverni.

In the film, plague is ravaging Renaissance Italy and a group of Florentines hide out in a villa to tell stories and wait out the epidemic.


The actor has described the "surreal experience" of their characters' circumstances reflected in real life - as the 18-strong crew were seriously considering having to quarantine themselves to protect against coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, Italy had the highest coronavirus death toll outside China with 79 deaths so far.

Charlie, who was filming in the country from February 22 to 29, said since returning back to his home in Beaconsfield, Public Health England has classed the film crew in category two - meaning they do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.

The actor said some of the film crew had already been subject to work waivers and had been threatened with compulsory leave as an added health precaution.

He added: "Some people are voluntarily undertaking self-isolation for two weeks and some have gone for swabs just in case."

Charlie told the Bucks Free Press that he is so far feeling well and has not had any worrying symptoms - a relief for the crew who were dealing with "escalating panic" before returning to the UK.

While in Italy, he said the crew - working for British film company Raunkiaer - were stockpiling food and supplies just in case they had to be quarantined.

While still in the country he said: "The themes of the film engage with the human narratives of love and grief at the epicentre of the plague hysteria sweeping Europe. There are striking parallels between the moral panic experienced by the characters in our story and the daily news we hear about health concerns via British and Italian news outlets.


"We have needed to bulk-buy perishable supplies for concerns of being quarantined, and outbreaks in the imminent area have been a hot topic of debate amongst the cast and crew who have received numerous warnings from concerned friends and family members.

"Signs of ill health are being treated with extreme precaution and we are trying to keep morale up in case of the worst-case scenario."

For the latest coronavirus health advice, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/