BBC, Channel 4 unveil Covid-19 plans & fast turnaround shows

Tony Hall

UK broadcasters Channel 4 and the BBC have unveiled a raft of new programming as they look to attract viewers during the Covid-19 lockdown and fill gaps left by the cancellation of major events.

With events such as the Olympics and music festival Glastonbury postponed for 12 months, the BBC has said it is preparing “a range of programmes that will bring the nation together and provide great British entertainment during these difficult times.”

Fast-turnaround shows for BBC Two include Hospital: The Covid-19 Frontline from Label1 Television, which will be filmed across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust in London and follows staff looking to contain and treat the virus.

HealthCheck UK Live

The BBC Studios Science Unit is behind Coronavirus: A Horizon Special, which will explore how governments have reacted to the crisis, while flagship BBC One will offer daytime series HealthCheck UK Live (10 x 60-minutes).

The BBC Studios production will air weekdays at 10.00 for two weeks, from Monday 30 March, and offer advice and companionship during the Coronavirus crisis. Celebrities and presenters include Michelle Ackerley, Dr Xand Van Tulleken, fitness guru Mr Motivator and Angela Rippon.

In place of Glastonbury, the BBC will offer music performances across its TV, online and radio services while sporting events will be replaced with entertainment show Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer, featuring the former footballer alongside Maya Jama and Alex Horne.

BBC’s weekly plans

Weekly programming will include The Graham Norton Show, Have I Got News For You and The Mash Report, all of which will be recorded as live during the week of transmission, while other offerings range from natural history series Primates to Rylan Clark-Neal’s You Are What You Wear and Spandau Ballet’s The Kemps.

New seasons of Sewing Bee, The Real Marigold Hotel, Your Home Made Perfect and I’ll Get This are also on offer, while BBC One will turn to classic comedies such as Gavin And Stacey and Outnumbered from 4 April.

Graham Norton

BBC Two comedies include There She Goes, The Other One, First Team and Alma’s Not Normal and Peter Kay’s Car Share will return on Friday nights across the summer.

Dramas including the third season of Killing Eve, Normal People, Devs, The Luminaries and Twin will also return to the pubcaster, while BBC Three’s output will offer The Vivienne Takes On Hollywood, season two of Hot Property featuring Yung Filly, new comedy In My Skin and comedy drama My Left Nut.

BBC chief Tony Hall said: “The BBC is determined to do all it can to raise a smile and keep the country entertained during these testing times. We have lots of great shows already recorded, but we have also found ways to keep many other shows going so that the familiar faces people love will still be in their living rooms in the weeks and months ahead. I think that is incredibly important.

“The BBC will also deliver a range of virtual events to replace some of those that have now had to be cancelled. We can all still have a Eurovision moment, even if it is different from the past. Our pledge is offer the best escapism, fun and distraction we can, alongside the news and information everyone needs.”

Alex Mahon

C4’s Coronavirus plans

Channel 4, meanwhile, said it had put in place a range of programming “to stay connected with the rest of the country, to help families stay occupied in isolation, and most importantly to keep spirits high with a range of great entertainment.”

Chief executive Alex Mahon and director of programmes Ian Katz have pulled forward the launch of new daily show The Steph Show, which is from UK prodco Expectation and will be broadcast live from the home of TV personality Steph McGovern from 30 March.

Grayson’s Art Club (working title), from Swan Films, follows artist Grayson Perry as he creates new works with the nation, while property and interiors expert Kirstie Allsopp is behind Raise The Roof Productions’ crafting show Kirstie’s House Of Craft.

C4 will also invite viewers to share in the wedding celebration of a couple who have had to cancel their big day plans in Lockdown Wedding Live, with First Dates‘ Fred Sirieix overseeing proceedings. It is being produced by Multistory Media North.

Other shows include culinary series Jamie: Keep Cooking And Carry On from Jamie Oliver Productions, which debuted Monday, while Risky Roadz is behind Grime Gran On How Not To Be A Dick In A Pandemic. It airs weekdays from 23.00 and features ‘Grime Gran’ (aka Margie Keefe) as she addresses the nation from self-isolation in her East London flat.

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