An anonymous poster commented on my post saying that TPTB do intend, if they can, to try to remount production of the series about to start in September. Another anonymous source has contacted me on Twitter saying that Mastermind intends to film its next series in September as well, provided it's safe to do so, and with necessary precautions in place, such as no audience.
If this does come to pass, Mastermind will join a long list of programs that have been forced to do away with the studio audience to keep going in the current circumstances, with varying degrees of success.
For example, the lockdown version of Have I Got News for You, with the panelists partaking via Skype, got mixed reviews at first, but as the series went on, and they got used to the new format, it did settle down and, by the time the series ended, it was almost as like we were watching a regular episode. It helped that, after a couple of shows, they stopped awkwardly pausing for a few moments where the audience would normally be laughing.
Similarly, QI also recorded a couple of episodes without an audience, on the usual set, with the crew providing a light laugh track. As someone who usually watches QI for the actual questions rather than the humour, I honestly thought it ran a lot better than usual.
Over on Radio 4, the Now Show (which was midway through a series when the restrictions came in), the News Quiz, Dead Ringers and The Unbelievable Truth have all returned with series recorded remotely, and all have done very well without it. Like QI, I honestly think TUT, in particular, works much better without an audience, allowing for the balance between the factual content and the humour a lot more even.
That said, I don't think all Radio 4 comedy stalwarts would work without an audience. For example, Just A Minute (should they decide to carry on with it after Nicholas Parsons' passing) and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (ditto Tim Brooke-Taylor) should almost certainly wait until a sufficient level of normality has returned before recording again IMO. For two reasons: A, both shows record on location rather than in a BBC studio, and B, the humour of both shows rely quite heavily on the audience's reaction and participation.
And then we come to Brain of Britain, which managed to record six shows normally until the restrictions came in. I'm guessing they'll try and resume recording the rest of the series if/when it's safe to do so too, and without an audience. And, apart from the round of applause for Beat the Brains entrants, the show doesn't really need one, so I imagine it'd work too.
And that brings us full circle back to the start of this blog. We know Mastermind will try without an audience if/when it's safe to do so, and one would imagine UC would too should it remount as well. Neither show needs an audience, all they're really there for is to provide generous applause for correct answers and at the start and end of the show.
Once normality has sufficiently returned, I imagine most, if not all, of these shows, will bring back their studio audiences. However, these past few months have demonstrated, and in some cases will possibly demonstrate, that a lot of these shows don't really need one and, in some cases, work a bit better as far as some viewers/listeners are concerned.
And finally, a quick word on Only Connect. My anonymous informant doesn't have any information about whether any of its next series has been recorded, or when it will, but anything I do become aware of I'll post here or, more likely, on Twitter.
So, that's all for now. Unless anything else arises that I feel the need to blog about, I'll be back a week on Monday with my new shorter UC blog. Until then, sayonara.