EXCLUSIVE: As the UK braces for lockdown 2.0 on Thursday, TV production will continue, but there will be inevitable side effects for studio comedy and entertainment shows, which are having to shut out audiences once again.
Live studio audiences had only just started to trickle back in August, but fans will no longer be able to attend their favorite shows as new four-week stay-at-home orders come into force on November 5 amid a second wave of coronavirus.
Among the shows impacted will be Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC One’s blockbuster dance competition, which provided an antidote to the COVID gloom for 10.3M viewers on Saturday — one of the show’s best audiences in two years.
But in a notice on the BBC studio audience website, producers said: “We’re sad to announce that we won’t be able to have a live studio audience for Strictly Come Dancing during November.”
They added: “No tickets will be sent out for December shows until we are sure it will be safe and compliant to welcome audiences back… We understand how disappointing this will be, but we very much hope we will see some of you later in the series.”
BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You, both of which record on a Thursday night, will also have to make do without a studio audience from this week. Producers are testing online audiences instead.
SRO Audiences, the ticketing website that helps manage audiences for the comedy shows, is organizing the virtual gathering. It will involve people watching a live stream of the studio recordings from home, while their laughter and applause is taped.
Other UK programs recording this week that are likely to be impacted by the second lockdown include ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show, which like Graham Norton, is recorded at Television Centre. ITV2’s Celebrity Juice and Channel 4’s Stand Up and Deliver are also due to record on Friday after the lockdown restrictions are in place.