The BBC is temporarily ending the production of some of its flagship television programmes.
The move comes as the broadcaster attempts to streamline its news coverage of the Covid-19 outbreak, while trying to limit the spread of the disease for casts and crews on the sets of some of its most popular shows.
Focus on ‘core news’
The production of current affairs shows like Victoria Derbyshire, Politics Live, and The Andrew Neil show has been halted indefinitely, while The Andrew Marr Show and Newsnight will continue to broadcast, but with fewer crew and technical staff.
Broadcast chiefs hope the streamlined schedule will help the BBC News Channel to focus on “core news”.
Shows like BBC Breakfast and Question Time will still go ahead - though the BBC said it was still working out the practicalities of filming the latter without questions from a live studio audience.
Announcing the raft of changes to staff, Fran Unsworth, the BBC's director of news, said, "These are unprecedented and difficult days. Trusted, accurate information is vital in a public health emergency and the BBC has a key role to play.
"We will continue offering our audience a continuous news service on TV, radio and online but this will look a bit different in the weeks ahead.
"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.”
Filming of Eastenders cancelled indefinitely
The broadcaster also announced that it was cancelling the production of the soap operas made by its BBC Studios wing - including EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, Doctors and River City.
In a statement on Twitter, the BBC said, “In light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, it has been decided that filming on all BBC Studios continuing dramas will be postponed until further notice.
“The decision was made after the latest government update. We will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the World Health Organisation and public health organisations.”
The move comes after hugely popular shows like the award-winning Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty also suspended filming.
The BBC said its soap operas would be broadcast less frequently each week, to allow the storylines that have already been filmed to run for longer.
EastEnders, which is usually broadcast four days a week on BBC One, will now only air on Mondays and Tuesdays.