Coronavirus: BBC's new programming plans include 'virtual church services' and exercise routines for elderly

The BBC has announced their new programme line-up in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)


The BBC has announced new plans for their programming in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.

A new slate of shows on TV and radio, including virtual church services and exercise routines for older people, are set to cater to people spending more time at home.

It comes as BBC Studios has shut down filming on a number of shows including EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City.

The broadcaster's Director-General Tony Hall unveiled the changes to programming while stating the BBC had a “special role to play at this time of national need".

Read more: Eurovision Song Contest cancelled over spread of coronavirus

He added in a statement: "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."

Director General of the BBC Tony Hall speaks to delegates during day two of the Global Conference on Press Freedom on July 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

BBC One fixture The One Show will be “a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis,” including “health and wellbeing advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips”.

It comes as Matt Baker was absent from the programme on Tuesday evening, leaving Alex Jones to present solo while he appeared via video link to explain that he was self-isolating with his family.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of Covid-19 cases in your local area

Explained: Symptoms, latest advice and how it compares to the flu

In addition, Health Check UK Live, on BBC One daytime, will “directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home”.

A virtual church service broadcast on local radio on Sunday mornings is to set to start off being led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, while the BBC also intends to put out a weekly Sunday morning church service on BBC One and "explore how to support other religions and denominations".

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

"We will work with partners to get older-age-group exercise routines, and other fitness programming, into people’s homes on TV or radio,” the BBC said.

Elsewhere, the BBC Food website will be refocused in order to provide recipes and advice on what can be made with essentials, with particular attention on older people and low-income families.

Read more: Glastonbury Festival postponed to 2021

Culture In Quarantine “will keep the arts alive in people’s homes,” and be focused across “Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and digital platforms”, the broadcaster has said.

On Wednesday morning it was announced that EastEnders will now air just two episodes a week of the instalments already filmed.

Meanwhile, production on the long-running soap - writing and planning - will continue.

With additional reporting by PA.