Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will be filmed without a studio audience for the first time in the show’s history this weekend amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Reports suggest that the presenting duo had been locked in talks with show bosses regarding the best way to proceed, with one possibility including the cancellation of upcoming episodes.
In addition to no studio audience, there will also be a stripped down production team for this week’s episode in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
The show made the decision to prioritise the “well-being of everyone involved” despite it depending heavily on the atmosphere from the audience.
Sharing a statement, ITV explained: “Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead this weekend without a studio audience. Our priority is safeguarding the well-being of everyone involved.
“The show will be made with a reduced production crew and in accordance with the latest guidance from Public Health England.
“The team are looking forward to bringing our viewers a brilliant show on Saturday evening.”
The episode will also be slightly shorter than usual – running for an hour as opposed to the regular 90 minute slot, but will reportedly still feature many of the show’s most popular segments.
It comes after the pair announced that the finale episode, which was due to take place at Disneyland Florida, was being postponed amid coronavirus fears.
“I’m sure like us you’ve all been following the news, and in the current climate nothing is more important than people’s health,” Ant explained on the show which aired on March 14th.
“Absolutely,” added Dec. “And because of this we unfortunately won’t be able to bring you the final show of the series from Florida.”
A host of TV shows both in the UK and abroad have been severely affected as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to dominate the headlines with many projects having their productions suspended.
A TV news account on Twitter recently posted an update on several shows who have made such changes to their format.
It read: “UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that #SaturdayNightTakeaway and #TheVoiceUK will continue to air WITHOUT a studio audience for the next 3 weeks.
“The Voice this weekend has already been recorded, but for the 2 live finals it’s still unknown if even the coaches will be present. #COVID19.”
Saturday Night Takeaway is on Saturday 7pm, only on ITV. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.