What is a talk show host without an audience? We’re about to find out in the time of the coronavirus

Ellen Degeneres. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Ellen Degeneres. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

South African viewers will soon notice live studio audiences disappear from their favourite American talk shows as coronavirus cases spread worldwide. 

In South Africa, where the number of coronavirus cases are increasing daily, the TV industry has not yet implemented any changes in terms of in-studio audiences for local talk shows, game shows, youth shows and other programming which are filmed before rows of seats filled with people from across the country. 

Producers of The Wendy Williams Show carried on ViacomCBS Networks Africa's BET (DStv 129) is immediately doing away with the New York in-studio audience that Wendy Williams often refers to as her "co-hosts". 

"Wendy values her co-hosts and their daily participation but in light of the current health climate, The Wendy Williams Show will not have a live studio audience until further notice. We will continue to produce a daily live talk show and look forward to welcoming the studio audience back when the time is right," the show said in a statement. 

The Ellen DeGeneres Show carried on M-Net's VUZU (DStv 116) says that "with the rapidly changing nature of the Covid-19 outbreak and out of concern for our audience attending The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Telepictures will suspend audience attendance during tapings effective Monday 16March," Telepictures said in a statement. 

Ellen later took to social media to share that production would be suspended completely until 30 March.

The Real aired on BET - also produced by Warner Bros from the same Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Los Angeles will start to screen people before allowing them to sit as in-studio audience members. 

"We are asking all guests to confirm that neither they nor any member of their household have travelled within the past 3 weeks to or through a location that has been deemed Level 3 by the Centre for Disease Control, currently China, Italy, Iran and South Korea," said Warner Bros. in a statement. 

"These new and temporary precautionary measures have been put in place out of an abundance of caution and out of concern for the health and safety of our guests and staff." 

No longer seen in South Africa, Dr. Phil is also axing the in-studio audience for now. "The health of our audience members, staff and crew are the priority," says Carla Pennington, the show's executive producer in a statement 

The Late Late Showwith James Corden done from Los Angeles and seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will continue with a live in-studio audience. The Talk seen on on 1Magic (DStv 103) and done from The CBS Studio Centre in Los Angeles is also still taking audience members during late March and early-April. 

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah carried on ViacomCBS Networks Africa's Comedy Central (DStv 122) and that records episodes in New York is currently still making tickets available for audience members this week but will get rid of the audience from next week. 

"Our top priority is the safety of our guests and staff. Beginning Monday, 16 March The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will film without a live, in-studio audience," says Comedy Central in a statement. 

"This move is being made out of an abundance of caution and concern regarding the spread of the Covid-19 virus and per guidance from New York City officials to take appropriate actions. There have been no developments at The Daily Show’s studio to cause concern for audience members who have plans to attend the show tonight or tomorrow. 

"Measures have been taken to protect everyone who enters and works in the office and studio with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures." 

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shown on and also recording in New York from inside the Ed Sullivan Theatre will also not allow guests in. 

"Beginning Monday, 16 March The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will film without a live, in-studio audience," said CBS in a statement.

"This move is being made out of an abundance of caution regarding the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the uncertainty of the situation for future weeks." 

"Per guidance from New York City officials, CBS and The Late Show are doing their part to help decrease the potential rate of transmission in our communities. There have not been any specific developments at The Ed Sullivan Theatre to cause concern for audiences." 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver seen on M-Net (DStv 101) is also removing the in-studio in New York. "As of this coming Sunday 15 March Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will film without a live, in-studio audience," says HBO in a statement. "We are taking this precaution in accordance with best practices as outlined by New York City officials. We will continue to monitor the situation."

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