BBC announces extensive plan to help viewers and listeners during the coronavirus pandemic

Here's how the BBC will keep us all informed, educated and entertained during uncertain times

BBC Broadcasting House (Getty, EH)

The BBC have announced how they will transform their coverage to adapt to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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In “unprecedented times”, Director-General Tony Hall said the BBC “has a special role to play” as the nation comes to grips with the crisis.

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. We are making a series of changes to our output to achieve that.

“We will continue to deliver all the essential news and information – with special programming and content.

“We also will do everything from using our airwaves for exercise classes for older people, religious services, recipes and advice on food for older people and low-income families, and should schools close, education programming for different age groups. We will also be launching a whole new iPlayer experience for children. And of course there will be entertainment – with the ambition of giving people some escapism and hopefully the odd smile.

“Clearly there will be disruption to our output along the way, but we will do our very best.

“It will take time to emerge from the challenges we all face, but the BBC will be there for the public all the way through this.”

The BBC have confirmed a wide range of initiatives that will aim to make life easier for viewers and listeners of the broadcaster’s services.

Tony Hall - Director-General, BBC
LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Firstly, the corporation plans to keep Breakfast, the One, Six and Ten news and ensure they continue to perform a “vital role” on BBC One.

They will also be broadcasting a weekly prime-time Coronavirus special on Wednesdays on BBC One, and move Question Time to 8pm on Thursdays. The live audience will be replaced with a virtual one, using phones.

On top of those measures, the BBC will record their Coronavirus podcast daily, and film abroad where possible – 5 Live will also be the place for up-to-date information and will be answering listeners’ questions with regular phone-ins.

Local radio stations will play a key role in keeping communities alive as they will be coordinating support for the elderly and those at risk under the umbrella of Make A Difference.

In terms of TV, Newsround bulletins will air throughout the day on CBBC and the planned closure of the Red Button will be postponed to allow for a regular stream of text news.

The One Show will take on a more focused role and will regularly include health and well-being advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips as well as linking to other BBC output that can help.

Matt Baker
Matt Baker on The One Show (Photo: BBC)

The BBC will also be launching a virtual church service on Sunday mornings across local radio in England. This will initially be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They will also aim to broadcast a weekly Sunday service on BBC One while also looking at how to support other religions and denominations.

BBC’s Food website will help guide readers on how to cook with basic essentials, especially focusing on helping older people and low-income families.

The corporation will also help to get older age group exercise routines and other fitness programming into people’s homes on TV or radio.

The BBC will also be expanding its educational output, should schools across the country have to shut. This will be across the Red Button, iPlayer, BBC Teach and BBC Bitesize. Some new podcasts on BBC Sounds will also be explored.

On iPlayer, the BBC will be bringing back classic box sets, including Spooks, The Missing and French And Saunders. There will also be a new iPlayer service for children.

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They will also do the same with BBC Sounds, by bringing back classic sport, comedy and drama shows.