Here are the BBC and ITV's new broadcasting schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak

Friday, 20th March 2020, 5:02 pm
Updated Friday, 20th March 2020, 5:02 pm

The BBC and ITV have revamped their broadcasting schedules in reaction to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

The changes centre around a new focus on coronavirus reporting and information, as well as ways to protect public health.

Executives at ITV announced that, for the first time ever, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will broadcast without a live audience this weekend.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s The One Show will change its focus to offer health and wellbeing advice.

Here is what each broadcaster is promising its viewers in the coming months.

Fresh BBC output

Lord Hall, Director General of the broadcaster, said: "The BBC will be using all of its resources - channels, stations and output - to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained.

The changes include a new weekly primetime coronavirus bulletin each Wednesday on BBC One, and a daily episode of the Coronavirus Podcast for the BBC News Channel.

A newly commissioned daytime show, called Health Check UK live, will answer questions and raise concerns from viewers who are in self-isolation.

The broadcaster also announced a new virtual church service to be aired on local radio stations across the UK each Sunday, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The BBC is also exploring ways to provide for other religions.

Adapted BBC shows

The One Show will now cover all aspects of the unfolding crisis, offering viewers information including health and wellbeing advice.

BBC Radio 5 Live will host regular phone ins, and Radio 4 will rebroadcast classic episodes of popular series like I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue, and Just a Minute.

Several classic shows will also return to iPlayer as part of a revamped entertainment output, including Spooks, The Missing, Waking the Dead, French and Saunders, Wallander, and The Honourable Woman.

ITV News

With viewing figures of ITV’s news and current affairs shows rising dramatically in the wake of Covid-19, the company has commissioned a weekly show called Coronavirus Report, which will air each Monday evening.

Kevin Lygo, ITV Director of Television, said the show would “give viewers an in-depth insight into issues affecting them” as the crisis unfolds.

He also explained changes that had been made to the way ITV News operates, giving it more flexibility to report in extreme conditions.

“As an illustration,” Lygo said “if we couldn’t broadcast News at Ten from London as we normally do we could do so from one of our regional centres.”

Changes to ITV’s entertainment shows

Cuts to the entertainment schedule include The Voice live semi finals and final, which were due to start airing later this month. They will be replaced with some “bespoke The Voice specials”, and the pre-recorded audition shows will still be broadcast as usual.

While the Britain’s Got Talent auditions are still set to air, executives say they are trying to work out how best to broadcast the live finals.

But Lygo insisted that the broadcaster’s schedule “remains robust” despite the deepening crisis, pointing to popular pre-recorded shows like The Chase, Belgravia, and Liar - which will all continue to air.

ITV will also air new shows like Quiz, Honour, Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow, and Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip in the coming weeks.

CITV will also have a reformed morning schedule as the channel cuts back on new recordings, airing shows like The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, Mr Magoo and Tom and Jerry instead.

Changes to Coronation Street and Emmerdale

Soaps like Emmerdale and Coronation Street, which receive huge viewing figures, will continue to be filmed.

“Through a mix of changes to production and scheduling we are confident that we can keep broadcasting new episodes of both shows over the coming months,” Lygo said, “we are filming with fewer cast and crew and we’re scaling back location shooting whilst adhering to the Government’s guidelines.

In a reworked schedule, Emmerdale will air Monday to Friday at 7pm, and Coronation Street will air on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30pm.