• BBC Studioworks hosts audience for last night’s shoot of QI
  • First studio audience since lockdown began
  • Paves the way for return of audiences to shows such as Strictly Come Dancing

Studio audiences have returned to BBC Studioworks’ Television Centre studio facility for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, albeit on a much smaller, socially distanced scale.

Pic for BBC Studioworks news story

Back to production: First studio audience at Television Centre since Covid-19 lockdown

Source: BBC

Talkback is currently recording episodes of QI in BBC Studioworks’ 10,800 sqft. Studio TC1. The production’s recording last night (Monday 17 August) saw the reintroduction of a small studio audience, comprising 40 people spread across TC1’s 600-person audience rostra.

The QI shoot marked the first return of studio audience at one of BBC Studioworks’ three facilities.

QI’s successful return paves the way for the possible return of audiences to other entertainment shows hosted by BBC Studioworks, including Strictly Come Dancing.

The move follows the government’s continued easing of lockdown measures last week, which included the reopening of indoor performance venues from 15 August.

Safety measures and protocols put in place by BBC Studioworks to handle audiences in a socially distancing world include mandatory temperature cheeks with thermal cameras before entry, the installation of hand sanitising stations in the outside queuing area and by the studio doors, floor markings and physical barriers laid out to highlight where the audience must stand whilst queuing.

The audience’s entry and departure of the studio is staggered and when entering they are shown to their seats in their specific groups, seats which are not to be occupied are clearly marked.

The studio seating design has been planned in line with government guidelines, including two metre distancing between crew and audience seating and the wearing of face masks for all audience members is mandatory.

“We are following government guidelines to the letter and are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that the return of audiences to our studios is managed safely”, said John O’Callaghan, head of studios and post production at BBC Studioworks. “We are currently having conversations with our other clients who are also keen to reinstate studio audiences to their productions, but all decisions will be made in adherence to our safety protocols.”

In addition to BBC Studioworks’ safety procedures, all audience members will be issued with a Covid-19 declaration to read and sign by the ticketing company. To assist with the NHS Test and Trace service, a temporary record of the audience will be kept for 21 days.

In a recent appearance on the IBC Podcast, Studioworks CEO Andrew Moultrie spoke about the return of live audiences with coronavirus restrictions in place.

He said: “There’s a lot of trial and error to try and deliver audience-based shows without an audience. The reality is a physical audience is what creates the chemistry a lot of the time in these shows, so we’re working actively with our production partners to think about how we bring audiences back in a safe and controlled way, in adherence with government guidelines.”

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