A lot of change is coming to this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, with the BBC’s crowning shiny-floor show set to air a more limited run with a smaller cast (including Bill Bailey, Caroline Quentin and Ranvir Singh) who will isolate together to help accommodate the restrictions of filming during the coronavirus pandemic.
And now the BBC has revealed that another sacrifice has had to be made to keep the production as safe and socially distant as possible, with the production team scrapping the usual Blackpool week (where the celebrity contestants and their dancing partners perform in the iconic Tower Ballroom) in favour of a Blackpool-themed week that will take place in their usual studio.
“Blackpool is a milestone moment in every series of Strictly that our audience, our celebs and professional dancers look forward to,” a BBC spokesperson told RadioTimes.com.
“Whilst we’ll be unable to physically go to Blackpool this series, we’ll still be celebrating this iconic venue and bringing it to life from our studio in Elstree.”
Considering how much time and effort has gone into making Elstree studios safe to film in despite the coronavirus pandemic, the decision isn’t an entirely surprising one. Transporting all the celebrities, dancers and production crew to Blackpool isn’t the easiest task at the best of times, and it seems that the BBC has decided that supplanting their entire production to a different part of the country introduces too much risk at the present time.
And this isn’t the first time Strictly has scrapped their annual trip to Blackpool. While the venue made key appearances in the first two series of the dancing competition in 2004, from series three until series seven it didn’t feature in the show, making a return for the 2009 series.
Since then, while the eighth or ninth week of the competition usually sees the stars decamp to the Tower Ballroom (freeing up the BBC to film Children in Need in the same studio) there has still been some variation, with the series heading to Wembley Stadium in the 2011 series and reserving Blackpool for the grand finale.
Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton during Strictly’s Blackpool Week (BBC, SD)
In the following year Strictly skipped Blackpool altogether, with just one Wembley week in its place before returning again in 2013, so it’s far from the first time a jaunt to Blackpool hasn’t been on the Strictly cards.
Still, fingers crossed the BBC can transport a little of the Blackpool glitz and glamour to Elstree when Strictly films this year. With things changing so much, a little slice of normality would be more than welcome.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One this autumn. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.