Impact of Covid-19

A number of game show related topics were buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a dynamic list; if you think we've missed anything, feel free to use the feedback form below.




  • By far the biggest befelling is Eurovision Song Contest, which will not take place this May. While the EBU has considered many options – a series behind closed doors, remote videos from each broadcaster's studio – none of them would deliver the experience. The EBU will make available a way to honour the chosen artists and songs, but the songs themselves will not be eligible for 2021. In addition, Eurovision Young Musicians will not air this year.
  • Have I Got News for You was produced, but within its participants' homes, described by its executive producer Richard Wilson as an 'elaborate video conference'. However, the absence of an audience did really hurt, as it meant the show was missing a necessary layer of quality control.
  • The Apprentice will not air this year, as filming has been postponed. What it was still doing on air in the first place given the, erm, antics of the presenter of the American version is a matter of debate but it definitely won't air this year.
  • Filming of Little Mix's The Search, basically a BBC version of The X Factor: The Band which aimed to find a supporting slot on their summer tour, will not go ahead this year as Little Mix's summer tour will not be going ahead.


  • A new series of I'll Get This premiered in its extended version, rather than the familiar half-hour edition. The extra 15 minutes helped Newsnight move into the same studio as the main evening news over on BBC1.
  • For one recording session of QI, the capacity of the venue had been reduced as a result of government advice (remember when the advice was only to avoid mass gatherings?).
  • The production of a celebrity series of Race Across the World had to be postponed as a result of the outbreak; its second civilian series, which had already finished production, aired March and April.
  • Filming of Richard Osman's House of Games has been postponed; the show is currently airing repeats. (Haven't they got new episodes of Eggheads to air?)


  • Britain's Got Talent - good god. ITV made the decision to go ahead with airing its auditions as planned, despite knowing they would almost certainly have not been able to finish the series as a result of the pandemic. Would it not have been best to a good idea to air the series in one block?
  • Saturday Night Takeaway was in the middle of a series when the outbreak became an inconvenience. The first three episodes went out as usual, the fourth went out with a disclaimer that the intended finale in Florida had been cancelled due to travel restrictions to and from the self-proclaimed United States, the fifth episode aired without a studio audience and the last two were hour-long compilation episodes filmed from Ant and Dec's houses, separated from each other, with In for a Penny brought forward by two weeks. Still aired more footage than the previous series; its previous series lost an episode as a result of the rehabilitation of Ant McPartlin.
  • The Voice UK was also mid-series when the pandemic was announced. They finished airing the battle rounds, as they had already started, but they could not film the live semi-final and final, which were replaced by two "The Voice UK: Most Memorable Moments" compilation episodes, presented by
  • Probably the biggest delay to filming any show as a result of the pandemic will come from Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, as the show requires an audience for one of its lifelines, and carrying out a pre-show survey would incur revealing the questions before broadcast, which would mean the surveys would need to be carried out live. The great Don't Ask Me Ask Britain revival starts here!

Channel 4

Channel 4, with no studio arm, is at the mercy of the advertising industry, which completely collapsed in the few weeks leading up to the lockdown; advertisers use content 'blacklists', so their content doesn't appear next to upsetting keywords such as 'coronavirus' or 'Covid-19'. As a result, the publisher-broadcaster announced in March that it would be reducing its content budget by £150 million, about 25% of its entire expenditure. It looks like the entertainment channel E4 will be badly hit, and there may be fewer commissions on More4. This is likely to mean no more Celebrity Countdown.

  • Or any more new Countdown after 1 May for that matter. Already a couple of months behind schedule as a result of Rachel Riley's pregnancy, Countdown was forced to film ten episodes without an audience, and drop a further five episodes set to include Michael Whitehall as guardian of the dictionaries. One episode had to be replaced last minute due to a comment Nick Hewer made that could have been perceived as insensitive, another episode lost one of its teatime teasers and another had Hewer's introductory chat with Al Murray cut due to possible association with the pandemic. This last episode, incidentally, was one of ten episodes critically affected by an administrative error. From 4 May the show intends on repeating the 30th Birthday Championship - although as they have four unaired specials why don't they make a week of shelf-clearing?
  • Filming of The Great British Bake Off usually takes place from late April to early July, this year's series may yet make its traditional late-August start. Junior Bake Off definitely won't, that's off for the year.



  • Gag Tag series 2 team captain Eddie Large was felled by the virus.
  • It is currently unknown what effect the virus will have on Strictly Come Dancing, although it did result in its Irish version, Dancing with the Stars, ending a week early.
  • For the first time since 2011, new episodes of Pointless have had to be premiered on BBC2, bumped as a result of Coronavirus Daily Update; because of its varying start times it's impossible to set a series link to it. Sort it out Auntie.
  • Georgie, the winner of Got What It Takes?, will be unable to perform on the main stage of this year's Radio 1 Big Weekend as the event in Dundee has been cancelled.
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