BBC to continue 'Wittertainment' with Kermode and Mayo despite coronavirus closing cinemas

Tom Beasley
Film critic Mark Kermode (right) and Simon Mayo join the BBC Philharmonic orchestra at MediaCityUK in Salford, for the film review show on BBC Radio 5 live. (Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Cinephiles will still be able to get their weekly dose of the BBC’s flagship film programme, as Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review — aka Wittertainment — will air despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on the programme’s social media pages, the team confirmed that hosting duo Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo will “shift the focus of the show” to cover movies that can be watched at home.

This will include streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Curzon Home Cinema, Shudder and, from next week onwards, Disney+.

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The statement reads: “We’ll be pre-recording the show on a Friday afternoon, and a one hour version will be on BBC Radio Five Live at 9pm on Saturdays.

“With most cinemas now closed, we’ll be shifting the focus of the show to the best (and of course, worst) films you can watch at home.”

Listeners to the show’s popular podcast will receive the usual added extra features, including DVD of the Week, as well as a new segment in which the hosting duo will recommend a U-certificate movie to watch.

Another new feature will see the hosts look back through the career of a particular director, starting with Lynne Ramsay — the British filmmaker behind We Need to Talk About Kevin and You Were Never Really Here.

The team added: “So although it’s not quite a case of going to the #Winchestertainment, having a nice cold pint, and waiting for all this to blow over, we’ll do our very best to keep the show going.”

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The announcement comes as the coronavirus pandemic has closed almost every cinema in the UK, with all of the major chains shutting their doors.

New releases have been delayed indefinitely, with Marvel’s Black Widow and Disney’s live-action Mulan postponed, weeks after James Bond adventure No Time to Die was pushed to November.

Logo for 'Wittertainment'. (Credit: BBC)

Kermode and Mayo have been broadcasting together on Five Live since 2001, having previously appeared together on Radio One in the 1990s.

In 2010, a YouGov survey crowned Kermode the UK’s most trusted film critic.

Today, the show is one of the BBC’s most downloaded podcasts and has a vocal fanbase, who refer to themselves as members of the “Church of Wittertainment”.

As well as its more conventional film reviews, the show has become known for its catchphrases and in-jokes, including the popular greeting “hello to Jason Isaacs”.