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BBC ramps up entertainment offer

UK pubcaster the BBC has unveiled a range of programmes designed to bring the UK together during the hardship caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Tony Hall

BBC director general Tony Hall said last week the corporation would focus on keeping the nation informed, educated and entertained during the crisis and the new titles focus on the latter.

With major UK cultural events due to take place over the coming months cancelled, the BBC is aiming to fill the gap caused by the lack of Eurovision and the Glastonbury Festival with similarly themed alternatives.

Eurovision: Come Together, produced by BBC Studios for BBC1, will air on May 16 and feature classic Eurovision performances as well as a look at what would have been in 2020.

On the weekend in late June when Glastonbury would have celebrated its 50th anniversary, the BBC will air music performances across its radio, TV and online platforms.

In the absence of live sport and the Euro 2020 football tournament, former footballer Peter Crouch will front a live entertainment show titled Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer, alongside Maya Jama and Alex Horne.

Produced by Fulwell 73, the show will use “the full scope of communication technology and the hosts showbiz-heavy phonebook” to remotely bring audiences live music, replacement sports action, exclusive comedy, celebrity guests, interactive audience fun and video adventures from all over the country, according to the BBC.

Weekly shows set to air over the coming months include The Graham Norton Show, Have I Got News For You and The Mash Report. All will be recorded as live during the week of transmission.

Hall said: “The BBC is determined to do all it can to raise a smile and keep the country entertained during these testing times. We have lots of great shows already recorded, but we have also found ways to keep many other shows going so that the familiar faces people love will still be in their living rooms in the weeks and months ahead. I think that is incredibly important.

“The BBC will also deliver a range of virtual events to replace some of those that have now had to be cancelled. We can all still have a Eurovision moment, even if it is different from the past. Our pledge is to offer the best escapism, fun and distraction we can, alongside the news and information everyone needs.”

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, added: “Bringing the nation together to be entertained is a vital public service. Throughout this crisis we will respond to the mood of the nation and provide programmes to help us escape and laugh; and create memorable events which we can all enjoy from home to replace those we’re going to be missing this summer.”

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