BBC Vows to Go "Extra Mile This Christmas" to Inform, Entertain Amid Pandemic

BBC director general Tim Davie
Courtesy of Getty Images

BBC director general Tim Davie

The U.K. public broadcaster is planning 'The Christmas Like No Other' project, 'The Big New Year’s In,' a winter comedy season, additional iPlayer content and more.

U.K. public broadcaster BBC on Tuesday vowed to "keep our audiences informed, educated, and entertained through continuing unprecedented times for the U.K. and the world" amid the coronavirus pandemic this winter.

Director general Tim Davie said: "At a time that is challenging for individuals and every family, the BBC plays a unique role in putting a smile on people’s faces, in helping children with their education, connecting people in local communities, and providing some much-needed escapism. We are incredibly proud to be going the extra mile this Christmas."

Among the content initiatives is a planned celebration of New Year’s Eve "like never before" with The Big New Year’s In; The Christmas Like No Other project "reflecting hope, compassion, and grief through the Christian faith, other faiths and people of no religious faith;" a winter comedy season on TV and radio; a new range of new boxsets added to on-demand service iPlayer; new local news offers; and an online and TV offer for teachers and students covering school curricula until the Easter holidays.

Addressing audiences' appetite for news amid the pandemic, the BBC said: "Hundreds of millions of people have turned to BBC News for accurate, trusted public information, with record audiences in the last few weeks," adding: "We have brought back a broad range of content in the last few months and will endeavour to keep nearly all programmes on-air over the next few months, subject to the impact on staff of the virus. On air, the new Morning Live show on BBC One will be live each weekday morning up until Christmas, giving viewers access to the BBC’s team of experts."

Among other information content planned, the BBC said it will feature a program investigating "the disproportionate impact Covid-19 is having on British people of color," as well as a look at the race to develop vaccines.

Meanwhile, The Christmas Like No Other project will include such things as a Christmas Day offering letting listeners join in a Christmas service from their homes, recorded at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

The Big New Year’s In will be a live entertainment show running throughout the evening "packed with famous faces and an unforgettable concert" leading up to a "special midnight celebration that the BBC has exclusive access to." And the winter comedy season will include a live stand-up TV series from across the U.K., plus a series of stand-up specials on Radio 4.

Other returning favorites on TV in the period up to the end of March include His Dark MaterialsDoctor WhoLine of Duty, Call the Midwife, and Ru Paul’s Drag Race.