As the nation grapples with the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak and life in lockdown, Channel 4 today outlined the first of its creative plans to help the audience navigate through the crisis, to stay connected with the rest of the country, to help families stay occupied in isolation, and most importantly to keep spirits high with a range of great entertainment.
Chief Executive Alex Mahon and Director of Programmes Ian Katz today set out the key pillars of its creative response to the crisis, which will include pulling forward the launch of new daily show The Steph Show which will be broadcast live from the home of Steph McGovern from Monday 30th March. A range of new programming to keep families entertained and active through their isolation will also include, Grayson Perry creating art with the whole nation, Kirstie Allsopp sharing craft ideas for all the family and Jamie Oliver helping people cook with store cupboard essentials.
This will be in addition to increasing the channel’s commitment to award winning Channel 4 News, current affairs and factual output which will cover the impact of Covid-19 on Britain and the world, give advice and guidance to viewers to help navigate the crisis, get under the skin of its impact on the NHS and explore the science and technology needed to battle it. The duration of Channel 4 News has been extended on a number of days with major news developments recently and will now be extended to 90 minutes every Monday, with the programme producing a fortnightly hour-long debate special on the crisis.
Channel 4 will also invite viewers to share in the wedding celebration of a couple who have had to cancel their big day plans in Lockdown Wedding Live, with Fred Sirieix overseeing proceedings for the whole country to enjoy.
Channel 4 has activated a ‘Stay at Home’ digital on-screen graphic (DOG) – which will be on screen during all Channel 4 programming across all its channels – to help deliver this vital public health message during the coronavirus crisis.
Chief Executive Alex Mahon said: “In these extremely uncertain and challenging times, public service broadcasters like Channel 4 play a vitally important role in holding our nation together.
“We are here to inform the audience with trusted news and current affairs, to help them stay in touch with what’s going on around them and, just as importantly, to lift them up and make them feel connected with the rest of the world when they are isolated at home.
“Nothing has demonstrated this more clearly than the record audiences we have seen for Channel 4 News in the past two weeks – and of particular importance is our reach and connection with young people, with audiences to our main programme last week up 120% year-on-year for 16-34 year olds, and more than 55 million views to our news content on YouTube in the last month.
“Of course, the Covid-19 outbreak presents huge challenges for broadcasters and the creative industries and we’re doing all we can to support our partners at independent production companies to help them through this.
“At the same time, together we are at our best when we use our creativity and ingenuity to respond to challenging circumstances and I’m incredibly grateful to them for the way that they are working with us to respond to this and help entertain and inform our audiences through these strange and unprecedented times.”
Director of Programming Ian Katz said: “The coronavirus outbreak is an enormous creative challenge for all broadcasters and though it is having a profound impact on getting some of our productions onto screen, it’s also a time when public service broadcasters like Channel 4 can step up and help people navigate through the extraordinary challenges we all now face.
“The need for high quality, trusted journalism is never greater than at times of national crisis and we will be regularly extending Channel 4 News over the coming weeks – alongside a range of current affairs and factual programming which will help keep our audience well-informed through these uncertain times.
“But I believe Channel 4 can go much further than this – and I want us to be the place that captures – and hopefully lifts – the mood of the nation, connects people and helps them get through the next few months of uncertainty and isolation with a combination of useful advice, stuff to do, cheering diversion and plain fun.
“The perfect person to do that is Steph McGovern, one of the best loved and most versatile broadcasters in the country and I’m delighted that we have been able to bring forward the launch of her new show, broadcast live from her Yorkshire home daily from Monday.
“Giving people a structure to their day – and helping them to use their time stuck at home constructively – is going to be incredibly important and I’m delighted to be announcing a range of new programming under the banner of Lockdown Academy.
“We’ve commissioned a range of new shows to help families keep active and happy through the day. This will include Grayson Perry teaching a nationwide art course, Kirstie Allsopp sharing her home crafting ideas and of course Jamie Oliver helping the nation cook from their store cupboard essentials.
“We’ll be broadcasting a wedding celebration live for one couple’s loved ones – and everyone else – to enjoy from the safety of their homes. And, at around 11pm each night we will be hearing from Grime’s favourite octogenarian Margie Keefe, aka Grime Gran, giving her own unique Thought for the Day on the world as she sees it.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the resourceful and creative ideas we’ve received from our indie production partners and over the coming days we’ll be announcing a number of other new shows we’ll be bringing into the schedule.”
Steph McGovern, host of The Steph Show added: “So this might not be how we planned it, but I’m itching to get on air and get chatting to all the people out there doing amazing stuff through these crazy times. Whatever you’re up to, we want to bring some much-needed joy to your day and help you navigate your way through the madness.”