Question Time moves to 8pm with no studio audience as BBC announces major coronavirus overhaul for TV news

Shows including Politics Live, Victoria Derbyshire and The Andrew Neil Show will be taken off the air to make way for news output from BBC News via its flagship bulletins and the BBC News Channel

Fiona Bruce, Question Time (BBC)

BBC News has unveiled sweeping changes to its output in order to concentrate resources at the Corporation on its core mission of providing trusted and accurate information around the clock to its audiences as the coronavirus crisis unfolds in the coming weeks and months.

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The plan involves taking off air a number of high profile news programmes, including Victoria Derbyshire, Politics Live, the Andrew Neil Show and Hardtalk in order to free up resources and air time to create “output to focus on the latest news, information, live events and audience questions.” It is understood staff from these shows will largely be asked to work on helping produce output across the general news coverage.

The BBC will double down on its flagship output from BBC Breakfast, and news bulletins at 1pm, 6pm and 10pm – while concentrating on rolling news coverage with the BBC News Channel and live events on TV, iPlayer and the BBC website, but fewer branded news programmes across its TV schedules.

BBC2’s Newsnight and Sunday morning staple the Andrew Marr show will continue to be broadcast, but with smaller technical crews than normal.

Additionally, Question Time will move to a prime time 8pm slot on Thursday evenings, but will be filmed without its usual studio audience. The location will remain fixed rather than the show travelling around the country, and viewers will be encouraged to send questions to the panel remotely before the show.

Speaking of the changes, BBC Director of News Fran Unsworth said: “These are unprecedented and difficult days. Trusted, accurate information is vital in a public health emergency and the BBC has a key role to play. We will continue offering our audience a continuous news service on TV, radio and online but this will look a bit different in the weeks ahead.

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“Like many organisations we are unable to have all our staff on site due to the coronavirus outbreak. We are therefore making some changes to what we do to streamline our output to ensure we can work with fewer people and protect the staff who are at work.”