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March 17, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:03am

Question Time to broadcast without audience as other shows taken off air at BBC amid coronavirus

By Freddy Mayhew

Question Time will be broadcast without a studio audience in new drastic measures at the BBC during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The BBC has said it is moving to a “core news service” on the news channel from tomorrow. Politics Live and the Victoria Derbyshire Show will be taken off the air on BBC Two.

Audiences will submit questions for Question Time, hosted by Fiona Bruce (pictured), which will be held at the earlier time of 8pm every Thursday.

The panel show is normally held in a different town or city each week, but will broadcast from the same location “for a period” from next week.

It comes after the Government advised against mass gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Andrew Neil Show, Hardtalk, Newswatch and the Travel Show will be suspended under the changes at the BBC.

Some Persian TV programmes will be suspended, but Newsnight and Andrew Marr will remain on air, although they will use fewer technical staff.

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The changes come as the corporation faces “unprecedented and difficult days” according to news director Fran Unsworth.

The UK is now in virtual lockdown to try and slow the spread of the virus, with the government advising against all non-essential contact.

The BBC will continue to run a continuous news service on TV, radio and online, with BBC Breakfast and the One, Six and Ten news bulletins remaining unaffected.

“Trusted, accurate information is vital in a public health emergency and the BBC has a key role to play,” said Unsworth.

“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.”

The BBC said it can protect much of its regular radio output, but is keeping the situation “under close review” and is already making some changes.

Radio news summaries will across Radio 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live will be brought together into a single output from Friday. The Week in Westminster on Radio 4 will be suspended after 21 March.

On World Service English, the World This Week will be suspended from tomorrow, with World Update and Weekend suspended from next week.

Online, the BBC will focus on its social media accounts with the largest followings to share information, drawing on help from across the BBC to support its social media activity, which will means posts on smaller accounts will be suspended over the coming days.

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