No bonus round or audience... life on a socially-distanced A Question of Sport

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A Question of Sport

BBC One’s A Question of Sport, the longest continually running quiz show on TV, is back up and running at dock10 studios under new coronavirus shooting guidelines.

The iconic quiz show began 2020 by celebrating its 50th anniversary in January. Eight episodes were recorded at dock10 in March, just before the Covid-19 lockdown, which enabled the show to remain on air during the summer months.

Now A Question of Sport is returning to dock10 to record another 10 episodes and Executive Producer Gareth Edwards says coronavirus shooting guidelines have led to two big ‘obstacles’ for his production team.

The first is having to shoot without an audience for the first time in the show's history.

“There’s usually about 250 people in the audience, and they play a big part in the show, giving it a live theatre feel,” Edwards explained.

Regulars have actually said they found it more relaxing to take part because of this, likening it to a quiz they would play with friends and family on Christmas day.

“It’s not that they wouldn’t want an audience back, but not having an audience gave it a more intimate feel,” Edwards added.

Secondly, each team member needed to be two metres apart – a big challenge for a show whose long-running format sees team-mates work closely together.

New desks were built to make sure the panellists were socially distanced and the gameplay was also tweaked. Historically, each team will confer quietly together to work out an answer.

If they are wrong, the other team can try to answer the same question for a bonus point. However, with team-mates sat so far apart, such quiet conferring would be impossible and would hand the rival team a possible answer. 

So the long-standing bonus point has been dropped from the socially distant version of A Question of Sport. Instead, the team captains, Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell, and the guests, are encouraged to have their discussions out loud – something the production team have actively encouraged to help compensate for the lack of an audience.

“We dropped the bonus point for fairness in the first instance,” said Edwards. “But because we were lacking 250 people in the audience, we wanted to make sure there was an atmosphere in the studio still.”

The first of the socially distant episodes of A Question of Sport, presented by Sue Barker, will be broadcast on Friday at 8.30pm on BBC One.