Brian Woods' TV diary

Lockdown begins five weeks early for me. Not due to Covid-19 but because, on 18 February, I become a dad. Welcome, Roscoe. I plan to avoid looking at email for the first month.

Three weeks later, on 11 March, I give in. Louisa Compton, editor of Channel 4’s Dispatches, wants quick ideas on coronavirus. I send her a barmy notion about shooting a film in one day, editing it in a week, and broadcasting seven days after filming.

The impact of lockdown on TV viewing

“People are spending much longer in front of TV sets,” Justin Sampson, CEO of ratings body Barb, told an RTS Zoom event in early June.

During the first nine weeks of the lockdown, people spent an average of 5 hours 7 minutes in front of the box, 33% more than during the equivalent period in 2019. These are “the kind of levels you’d normally see at Christmas”, said Sampson.

Viewing of Barb-reported channels – which doesn’t include unidentified viewing: the SVoDs such as Netflix; gaming; YouTube; or overseas satellite channels – has risen by 18%.

David Tennant and Michael Sheen to star in new BBC comedy series

David Tennant and Michael Sheen (Credit: BBC)

The six-part series is based on an original idea by Simon Evans and Phin Glynn, with the series written and directed by Evans.

Staged follows the cast of a play forced to halt their upcoming West End Production and sent home on furlough.

Classed as some of the best British actors of their generation, the cast try to keep up rehearsals at home during lockdown.

The series finds the comedy and challenges of creating a drama in lockdown both on and off stage.

Experts explore the TV industry's winners and losers during the health emergency

Sixty eight per cent of those who voted predicted that the streaming giant would continue to gain from the crisis. 

Conversely, Channel 4 risked being the biggest loser.

However, there was a consensus that all UK broadcasters would survive the pandemic and that independent producers were most vulnerable as the economic downturn accelerates.

UK broadcasters team up on guide for producing TV safely during Covid-19

The guidelines will allow productions to get up and running again, with the emphasis on the safety and well-being of employees.

The guide will be applicable to a broad range and scale of TV programmes of all genres and have been created with the collaboration of industry experts and the external expertise of Dr Paul Litchfield CBE.

Broadcasters have liaised with union representatives and the Health and Safety Executive and worked with First Option safety consultants to the media and entertainment industry.

What Hollywood got right about pandemic medics

More than 30 years ago, I sat in the St George’s Medical School library in Tooting, south London, contemplating a framed cowhide that belonged to a beast called Blossom. The hide came from the cow that the great 18th-century physician Edward Jenner, the founder of immunology, used in an experiment to demonstrate his vaccine against smallpox. Fast forward 33 years and here we are during a pandemic that will last for many months to come.

BBC commissions a series of new factual programmes

Ross Kemp (Credit: BBC)

Ross Kemp: Britain’s Volunteer Army

These uncertain times have seen the nation come together to help one another, and this generosity and kindness is celebrated in Ross Kemp: Britain’s Volunteer Army.

The five-part series goes up and down the country to meet those volunteering as part of large and small initiatives.

Ross meets the volunteers who are supporting the most vulnerable in society, even if it means putting their own personal safety at risk.

Midton Acrylics swaps awards for plastic visors to help protect NHS workers

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, Midton has swapped making trophies for glamorous awards nights to manufacturing plastic visors to help protect doctors and nurses treating local Covid-19 patients.

The company is producing up to 600 visors a day from its factory based in Lochgilphead, Argyll.

The visors have been sent to Oban’s Lorn and the Islands Hospital and Mid Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead – and may soon be arriving at hospitals in Glasgow.

ITV launches #ITVKidsCreate project

ITV Creates - NHS on the mend (Credit: ITV)

The special project will allow kids stuck at home during the COVID-19 crisis to get involved and stay busy.

Kids can use pens, pencils and paints to create their original artwork and if chosen it will be projected onto the ITV logo idents during advert breaks.

As many pieces of artwork as possible will be shown and each child will be credited.

Parents and guardians can submit the artwork via Twitter or Instagram using #ITVKidsCreate and @itv.