Ellen and Jimmy Fallon shows to film without audience

US chat shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Seth Myers, Trevor Noah and John Oliver will also stop filming in front of audiences.

In all cases, the shows indicated no staff members had been taken ill, but producers felt performing with live crowds would not be safe.

There are 1,135 cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths so far.

Ellen’s production company Telepictures said the decision to remove live audiences was taken as a result of “the rapidly changing nature of the Covid-19 outbreak”.

“This temporary measure will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and will not impact the production schedule of Ellen,” the company said in their statement.

Whoopi Goldberg, one of the hosts for US talk show The View, greeted viewers with an empty studio on 11 March.

President Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the virus in the US.

Actor Tom Hanks revealed that he and wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the virus while he was filming in Australia.

The Late Late Show with James Corden will continue to film in front of audiences

Other US shows which will no longer film in front of studio audiences include Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and The Greg Gutfeld Show on the Fox News channel.

Bee’s programme began the policy with immediate effect – filming Wednesday night’s show without a live audience.

“Tonight we’re talking about the coronavirus, we cancelled our audience to keep everyone safe,” Bee said in a trailer for her show broadcast earlier on Wednesday.

Gutfeld’s show will start the policy on Saturday and, while Oliver’s show and Watch What Happens – presented by Andy Cohen – will follow on Sunday.

All the weeknight talk shows will then stop using audiences from Monday, 16 March.

Celebrity Race Across the World postponed
However, Ellen aside, most of the Los Angeles-based chat shows are proceeding with live audiences.

The Late Late Show with James Corden and Real Time with Bill Maher will tape new shows with a crowd as normal for the time being.

There is no word yet on whether or not Saturday Night Live will be affected, but the show’s next original episode is not scheduled until 28 March.

In the UK, the celebrity version of BBC series Race Across The World has been postponed, with production company Studio Lambert saying that with the support of the BBC, they are delaying the show as it “involves contestants travelling across a number of different countries”.

“We will continue to review all productions on a case-by-case basis following the latest news and advice from the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and Public Health England,” they added.

British TV shows with live audiences have been proceeding as normal so far, but BBC One’s flagship chat show, hosted by Graham Norton, is not currently in series.

When asked about its plans for shows filmed in front of a live audience, ITV told the BBC its priority was “the well-being and safety of all our people and everyone who works with us on our shows and across our business”.

They added: “We are in a developing and dynamic situation so we’re complying with the guidance from Public Health England and the World Health Organisation to make sure we keep everyone as safe and secure as possible.”

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