RIVER City: Scene 3. Bob’s garage. He sips tea while best friend Angus emerges from under the hood of a van. Bob wonders; “What of Bo-Jo on telly last night, mate, and his new Covid rules for life. And death?”

Angus sighs in agreement. “Mental, man. ‘Keep your distance, but you can board a Glesga train that’s packed tighter than Amber’s skinny jeans. You can go out, but you’re supposed to stay in. And you’ll be in bother if you don’t, except you might no’ cos the polis don’t have any real instructions’.”

Bob listens: “And don’t even talk to me about toilet paper, man. That Kim’s still using four squares. Pure nightmare.”

That’s not a real scene, of course. And it won’t happen, not only because the TV production has now been halted until August.

It won’t happen because soap television in Britain never features the real world. It exists to plunder reality from the news stories of the day and reproduce it in open-ended narrative form.

And the soap stories, more increasingly, have become huge. The likes of EastEnders and Coronation Street have come to rely upon tales of rape, human trafficking, rail and plane disasters and the occasional arrival of a psychopath to hold viewers’ interest.

But the problem soap television is facing is it can’t come anywhere close to the life we’re living at the moment.

Soaps are written to create cliff-hangers. Yet, all our lives are now a personal cliff hanger.

Yes, continuing dramas have long been a great entertainment form because the characters struggle with life even more than we do.

But right now, the only scripts holding our attention are those written by Newsnight or Scotland Today reporters, the narrative provided by newspapers who make some sense of the instruction.

Soaps love moral conflict. How can we remain wrapped up in the drama of an Albert Square or a Hollyoaks romance when we’re being torn apart by huge moral conflicts of our own?

Do we tell the care workers who look after our dementia-stricken parents not to cross the doorway unless their PPE’d up to their necks? Do we let our kids go for a second bike ride – or kick a ball outside the house?

Soaps had been a massive part of our lives since they were first introduced in 1960. We’ve loved Coronation Street’s dank Manchester world of dry sarcasm and humour as dark as puddle water.

We loved the fact giant societal changes such as working class mobility were reflected in the tiny lives of the likes of Ken Barlow. We loved the irony in that his social mobility was constrained by his own imagination, and loyalty to a world of HP brown sauce bottles on table tops.

Who hasn’t worried they will turn into an Audrey Roberts, so desperate for love she’ll marry a fat councillor and fall for a conman.

Yet, as reality TV took audiences away, viewers shrank and soap storylines became gargantuan.

They moved away from Ena Sharples mumping about her varicose veins and slaying Elsie Tanner’s alley cat promiscuity to massive tales of drug gangs and kidnapping.

But as storylines have become too big we’ve lost our smugness that’s come from watching others facing unrelenting misery.

Yes, there has been a surge in viewing of the likes of Coronation Street and EastEnders this week, with the news episodes are being reduced; a visual panic buying by the public.

But these are dated storylines, played out by actors BC. (Before Covid.) And as our reality darkens, soap’s attempts to be dark and dangerous will seem a little preposterous.

What Corrie and the rest will have to do – when filming returns – is downscale. Go back to the minutiae of people’s lives.

Soap has never covered actual reality; political parties are forbidden. Celtic and Rangers don’t exist in Shieldinch. It can’t cover Covid-19.

But it has to return to small stories that reflect the world at large, tell tales using cleverly written metaphors.

We’re never going to have Bob and Angus debate whether Lenny Murdoch should pay up for a couple of hospital ventilators.

But they can talk about the greed of those who could use their money to pay for a homeless shelter in Shieldinch.

Giant themes made intimate. That will hold us to a world of escape we sorely need.

The soap bubbles have to become smaller if they’re still going to wash.