Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips on future of BBC series: ‘It will have to be slimmed down’

"They will work out a way of doing it."

Arlene Phillips (Getty)

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips has reassured us that she firmly believes the show will be back this autumn.

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With social distancing measures in place, the future of the 2020 series is unclear. Even if the BBC can bring the show to our screens, it may look very different to the programme we’re used to.

But Arlene is confident we will see the series back in September, albeit in a slightly less sparkly form.

“I think it will have to be a slimmed down version,” she tells RadioTimes.com in an exclusive chat. “The professionals are brilliant at doing their own make-up – there are no make-up artists around in their competition world anyway – and while the orchestra and the live audience add an awful lot to the show, it’s ultimately about the dancing and that’s the greatest challenge.

“Dance is physical and requires close partnerships. In Latin dances there’s a bit more freedom, but in certain dances you really have to be in hold, it’s about touching and holding each other and you’re sweating. How can that happen?”

Although it’s a difficult conundrum, Arlene can’t imagine circumstances where the show won’t be on TV this September. “Strictly has some of the best minds in the industry and they are busy working out a way of holding the competition,” she insists.

“It was very much simpler in the earlier days of Strictly with a smaller audience, fewer cameras, so I’m sure they will be able to think of something to get the show back up and running in some form, and I’m sure audiences who are really being starved of entertainment will embrace whatever they’re offered, even if it’s not the biggest Strictly that has ever happened. They will do something this year.”

Arlene thinks that the new 2020 version of Strictly will rely heavily on the stories of the celebrity contestants and the skill of the professional dancers.

“A large part of the show is about the celebs, whether they’re funny, struggling or brilliant when you don’t expect it, the unexpected surprises, it’s about those human beings,” says Arlene.

“The pros are always fantastic to watch, and the show has the most amazing professional dancers at the moment – I could probably watch Johannes (Radebe) dance 24 hours a day! I think you might see more of them and Strictly will turn into a a human drama rather than being about the glitz, glamour and sparkle. You can be entertained by discovering something you haven’t seen before.”

Strictly Come Dancing – same sex dance
BBC/Guy Levy

Arlene is busy in lockdown at the moment, working on a musical and a “TV drama with dance”, the details of which are still under wraps. She is also focussing on charity work, including auctioning off the chance for a winner to have lunch with her at posh London restaurant, The Ivy in aid of The Great British Win, which is supporting key workers.

“They’ll get all the secrets from my life, Strictly, Hot Gossip and the big films I’ve worked on, it’s a special prize and anyone can enter to ask me anything they want about show business!”

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To be in with a chance of winning lunch with Arlene, click here. Strictly Come Dancing should be back on our screens in the autumn. To find out what else is on in the mean time, check out our TV Guide.