ITV will reduce the frequency of Coronation Street and Emmerdale from 12 episodes a week to eight starting next week (30 March) as the broadcaster takes steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus among its cast and crew.
Corrie will air Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm, cutting the 8.30pm editions on those days, while Emmerdale will run Monday to Friday at 7pm, with no extra episode on Thursdays.
Kevin Lygo, ITV's director of television, said: "Coronation Street and Emmerdale are Britain’s two most popular soaps, with millions following both shows. The continued transmission of both soaps is a priority for all of us at ITV and to our audiences who enjoy the shows.
"The latest health advice from the government and Public Health England is making filming both shows a real challenge – particularly with cast and crew members who are over 70 or have underlying health conditions.
"Through a mix of changes to production and scheduling, we are confident that we can keep broadcasting new episodes of both shows over the coming months.
"On the production front, we are filming with fewer cast and crew, and we’re scaling back location shooting whilst adhering to the government’s guidelines."
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will also air without a live audience for the first time.
The Voice UK live semi-final and finals will be postponed. They were due to air on 28 March and 4 April respectively.
Lygo added: "We are also working with our production colleagues to see how we can make the BGT [Britain's Got Talent] live shows work in an ever-changing situation and we will update on this in due course."
The effects of coronavirus are having a big impact on businesses. ITV’s share price has fallen 55% over the past four weeks and at the time of writing stands at 59.28p.
Yesterday (Tuesday), after Uefa announced that it was moving the Euro 2020 football tournament to next year, ITV said that the direct impact will be to reduce its schedule costs this year by between £40m and £50m, including the cost of replacement programming.
In a statement, ITV added: "There will be no loss of sponsorship revenue as the tournament is pre-sponsored. We look forward to broadcasting the Euros and providing a significant marketing opportunity for advertisers in 2021 – a year which does not have any other large sports tournament."