BBC announces host of changes in coronavirus crisis with health advice

BBC announces host of changes in coronavirus crisis with more health advice on The One Show, virtual church services and return of Spooks, The Missing and other boxset shows to iPlayer

  • BBC will pack its programming schedule with coronavirus TV and radio shows 
  • One Show is to focus on health advice and there will also be a COVID-19 podcast 
  • Director general Tony Hall said the national broadcaster has a ‘special role’
  • It comes as Downing Street said schools will close Friday amid growing pressure 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

The BBC has announced a raft of programming changes for the coronavirus crisis, including health advice on The One Show and virtual church services.

The broadcaster, which has suspended filming of Eastenders and other top dramas, will also add boxsets to the iPlayer including Spooks, The Missing and French and Saunders. 

BBC director general Tony Hall said the national broadcaster had a ‘special role to play at this time of national need.’

Major news shows like Breakfast, the News at One, Six and Ten, are to be maintained as much as possible and there will be a prime time COVID-19 bulletin every Wednesday.

The One Show will be ‘a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis,’ including ‘health and wellbeing advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips’

Box sets to be made available include Spooks (pictured), The Missing, Waking the Dead, French and Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman

Newsround bulletins for children will remain throughout the day on CBBC, and there will be a new iPlayer section for kids

Lord Hall added: ‘We need to pull together to get through this. That’s why the BBC will be using all of its resources – channels, stations and output – to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained.’  

The One Show will be ‘a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis,’ including ‘health and wellbeing advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips’.

Health Check UK Live, on BBC One daytime, will ‘directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home’.

The BBC will also launch ‘a virtual church service on Sunday mornings across local radio in England, led initially by the Archbishop of Canterbury’.

The BBC also aims to broadcast a ‘weekly Sunday morning Church service on BBC One, and explore how to support other religions and denominations’.

‘We will work with partners to get older-age-group exercise routines, and other fitness programming, into people’s homes on TV or radio,’ it said.

Culture In Quarantine ‘will keep the arts alive in people’s homes,’ and be focused across ‘Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and digital platforms’.

The corporation said, in a statement on EastEnders, that ‘in light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, it has been decided that filming on EastEnders will be postponed until further notice.

‘The decision was made after the latest Government update.

‘We will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England,’ it said.

‘We have also taken the decision to reduce the amount of episodes we broadcast each week to two, so that we can ensure the audience can continue to enjoy EastEnders in their homes for as long as possible.’

It said that ‘filming on all BBC Studios continuing dramas will be postponed until further notice.’

It is thought that EastEnders, which will air on Mondays at 8pm and Tuesday at 7.30pm, has already stopped filming.

ITV announced a change to the scheduling pattern for Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

From March 30, Emmerdale will air Monday to Friday at 7pm.

Coronation Street currently broadcasts two episodes on some nights, but it will drop its 8.30pm episode to broadcast only at 7.30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

‘The continued transmission of both soaps is a priority to all of us at ITV and to our audiences who enjoy the show,’ it said.

Question Time will move to an  8pm slot on BBC One and will proceed without a studio audience

‘Whilst carefully adhering to the latest health advice from the Government and Public Health England, our production teams are continuing to film episodes in Manchester and Leeds.

‘With this change of transmission pattern it will ensure we have great new soap episodes coming to air every weekday night until at least the early summer.’

BBC chief Lord Hall said ‘there will be disruption to our output along the way’ but the broadcaster said BBC Breakfast, the One, Six and Ten (O’Clock news) are a priority.

In January, the BBC announced cuts to Newsnight, 5Live and other news output, leading to around 450 job losses.  

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