BAFTA TV Awards 2020: Shirley Ballas says Bruno Tonioli will “walk on water” to get to Strictly this year

Strictly Come Dancing won Best Entertainment Programme at the BAFTA TV Awards.

Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has said that fellow judge Bruno Tonioli will “find a way” to be on this year’s show, even if it means “he has to walk on water”.

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Speaking after the show’s BAFTA win at this evening’s ceremony, the ballroom dancer said when asked about Tonioli’s potential absence on this year’s series: “All I can say is, I’ve known Bruno 11 years. If there is a way to fly backwards and forwards, he will find the way.”

She continued: “If he has to walk on water, he will. But if it’s not safe, then that’s a different situation but I know Bruno and Bruno will fly his little arms, I love him so much and I know he will give his all to get there.”

Over the past few months, several publication have reported that Tonioli, who lives in the US, would be unable to appear on the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing as travel restrictions may prevent him from filming both Strictly and the US version Dancing With The Stars, which start production at the same time.

In previous years, Tonioli, who has sat on Strictly’s judging panel since the show started in 2004, has flown between the US and the UK each week to film both shows, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he has reportedly chosen to stay in North America.

On the topic of COVID-19 and Strictly 2020, Ballas also said that “you cannot miss” the upcoming series as producers are pulling out the stops this year.

“Inside that social distancing, you have to be creative and we have obviously [choreographer] Jason Gilkison – one of the best minds in the business with creativity, he’ll take those roles and he’ll stick to them and you know those boys and girls, our professionals, who are the best in the world by the way, they will bring to the forefront the most magnificent talents that they can create,” she said. “I think you’ll be surprised.”

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Strictly, which won the BAFTA for Best Entertainment Programme at Friday’s ceremony, will be introducing minor changes to this year’s series in light of COVID-19, including the requirement that professional dancers must stay in ‘isolation bubbles’ for two weeks before the show begins.

The Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards screened on Friday, 31st July on BBC One. Watch them now on BBC iPlayer.
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