Media release: New additions to BBC Scotland schedules during COVID-19 crisis


FOLLOWING last week’s announcement of the introduction of Bitesize schools programming to the schedules, BBC Scotland has today released more details around two new commissions and comedy and sports programming which will be introduced in a bid to entertain audiences during this period of social distancing and isolation.

A topical six part series, Socially Distant with Susan Calman, has been commissioned. Every week, Susan will be bringing the nation together as she remotely hosts a packed entertainment show from her very own back garden. Susan will be keeping the nation connected to Scotland’s culture and connected to each other. As well as her personal take on this new way of life, Susan will introduce self-filmed contributions from the finest comedians, actors and musicians from across Scotland who now find themselves stuck at home. Socially Distant with Susan Calman is an opportunity to keep the creative community engaged and offer a smattering of joy to the people of Scotland in unprecedented times.

Speaking about the series, Susan said: “I’m delighted to be hosting a completely unique show for these unprecedented times. I’ll be broadcasting from the bottom of my garden and through the wonder of modern technology bringing together an array of comedians, musicians and actors from across Scotland in a bid to cheer up the nation! It might be a little bit rough and ready at times, but I think we can agree that we all need a little bit of light relief at the moment.”

Gavin Smith, BBC Scotland’s Comedy, Drama and Entertainment commissioner, said: “We’re delighted that at a time of increasing distance and isolation, Susan’s going to bring the people of Scotland together again and show that there’s still laughs in lockdown! It’s great that comedians, musicians and other creative talents will have the chance to ‘gig’ from their homes and with Susan warmly pulling it all together from her back garden it’ll be an entertainment show like no other even if it rains.”

Socially Distant with Susan Calman will be produced by Red Sky Productions.

BBC Scotland’s hit show, The People’s News, is returning with a new twist. Produced by Tern TV, The People’s News: Corona Diaries will chart the lock down in a series of diaries from living rooms across the Nation every week. A cast of different families from Aberdeen to Ayr, Shetland to Skye will give their own personal testimonies of living through the crisis and sharing practical tips around cooking and exercise during the lockdown. The format will feature many of those working on the frontline from health care to farming, supermarkets to delivery drivers to give us their up-to-date news and views.

Executive producer, Harry Bell, Tern TV said: “The lock down has changed forever how we interact with our own families, friends and colleagues. Corona Diaries will reflect the innovation, humour and very different views on the news that are emerging. This is the chance to hear and see how ordinary people are reacting from their own living rooms to this extraordinary new world.”

Steve Allen, assistant commissioner, BBC Scotland said: “This new series gives us an opportunity to capture the experiences and perspectives of individuals from around Scotland living through the Corvid-19 restrictions. It will provide a documentary account of people and communities going through an extraordinary experience: a nation coming together by staying apart. It will reflect the mood of a country getting to grips with a public health emergency – with some wit and resilience.”

Both new commissions will be coming soon to the schedules and will be made through production teams, talent and contributors working remotely.

Comedy classics from the archive will also feature on the channel with the first series of Still Game being broadcast from tonight (Friday 27 March) at 10pm. There are also plans to schedule more classic comedy from the archives across the schedule, details to be announced in due course.

Gavin Smith added: “We think that after tearing your hair out home schooling the kids or sweating profusely while working out in the kitchen the BBC Scotland audience deserve a laugh so we’re thrilled to be delving in to our comedy archives for the run up to the weekend.”

For Scotland’s army of football fans, the BBC Scotland channel will begin broadcasting classic football matches from the archives this evening (Friday 27 March), kicking off with Sportscene: Scottish Cup Classics. At 7pm, the channel will have highlights from the Edinburgh derby showdown between Hearts and Hibernian from 2012 with full match coverage of the 1991 Motherwell and Dundee Utd clash broadcast on Sunday (29 March).

These announcements are in addition to the continuous, comprehensive COVID-19 news coverage provided by BBC Scotland’s television, radio and online teams and follow the raft of extra educational content announced last week. Broadcasting each weekday from 10am, Bitesize Daily Scotland gives students in Scotland the opportunity to access content across primary and secondary education. Content has also been curated for BBC iPlayer for Scottish pupils and this, combined with the extensive Bitesize catalogue available online is helping to plug any learning gap caused by the enforced schools closure.


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