BBC Proms reimagined for lockdown times

A live audience may be permitted to Royal Albert Hall performances in August.

Royal Albert Hall: home to BBC Proms main events
Royal Albert Hall: home to BBC Proms main events

The BBC has reimagined its annual Proms but is not ruling out having a live audience for its final performances.

Covid-19 lockdown measures mean the season that the BBC had originally planned is no longer possible. Its new offering will try to capture the widest possible audience across TV, radio and online, without the usual live concertgoers.

For the first night, a mash-up of Beethoven's nine symphonies performed by all the BBC orchestras and singers will feature more than 350 musicians. This "Grand Virtual Orchestra" will see all the groups performing together, having each recorded their own part at home.

From 28 August, musicians will perform live at the Royal Albert Hall, culminating in a "poignant and unique" last night of the Proms designed to bring the nation together. The BBC intends to work strictly within government advice at the time and the live performances are to be broadcast on BBC Four, Radio 3 and iPlayer.

An audience at the Royal Albert Hall has not yet been ruled out and is dependant on official advice nearer the time.

The BBC’s archive of Proms concerts will be part of a broadcast festival on radio, TV and online. 

David Pickard, director BBC Proms, said: "These are challenging times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever.

"This year, it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them. We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time."

The Proms season runs from 17 July to 12 September. TV coverage will be produced by Livewire Pictures and Radio 3 content will be produced by BBC Production.


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