BBC Cuts Audience At ‘QI’ Recording, Forges On With Studio Shows Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Sandi Toksvig presenting BBC series 'QI' BBC/Fremantle

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC and Fremantle have cut the audience size at a recording of entertainment show QI tonight, while other live studio shows are also forging ahead as TV grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

A source told Deadline that a QI recording at BBC Television Centre is taking place but the studio capacity is being reduced from 600 to 500 people, including crew members working on the show for Fremantle label Talkback.

Audience members were provided with government advice about coronavirus in an email accompanying their tickets, which recommended people “stay indoors at home” if they are experiencing symptoms. A source said audience members were not vetted about their health or travel history on entry to the studio.

Another BBC recording for new entertainment show, Take Off With Bradley & Holly, is also proceeding tonight at Elstree Studios — a facility with BBC-run studio space. Presented by Holly Willoughby and Bradley Walsh, and produced by Hungry Bear, it is understood the show was in high demand with people queuing to enter. A third show going ahead is the topical debate program Question Time, made by Mentorn Media.

It is not clear at this point whether the BBC has issued guidance to producers about how to manage studio audiences in light of the coronavirus outbreak. A BBC insider told Deadline last week that the broadcaster was discussing how best to vet studio audiences.

The UK government has not banned or capped social gatherings. It has made clear, however, that anyone experiencing symptoms, including a cough and high temperature, should remain at home.

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