Sarah James, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, has revealed this year’s contestants don’t face immediate elimination from the competition if they happen to test positive for COVID-19.
Speaking to press including RadioTimes.com ahead of the launch of the 2021 series this weekend, James said there would still be COVID safety protocols in place this year, with the virus “very much still being around”.
“Some stuff is better than last year, and some stuff is kind of the same. So it’s a bit of a hybrid,” she explained.
James said the professional dancers had all bubbled up in a hotel (as they did last year) and pre-recorded all the pro group numbers for the series.
“When we get into the live shows, they will be tested weekly and they will bubble up with their celebrities like last year,” she added. “And we will keep everybody distance from each other.”
These changes, similar to last year, mean we won’t be seeing all of the dancers gathering upstairs with Claudia Winkleman in the ‘Clauditorium’, with the celebrities and their partners sitting at individual tables in the audience again.
“Keeping everybody safe and keeping the show going is obviously our priorities,”(sic) the Strictly boss continued. “We will have a limited audience again, like last year. So we will have some audience, which is nice, but it won’t be a full audience sadly.”
But there is one COVID protocol which has changed since last year’s strict restrictions: if a celebrity test positive for COVID, it doesn’t necessarily rule them out of the competition.
Last year, the required isolation period following a positive test result was 14 days. If someone tests positive now, they are only required to self-isolate for 10 days.
“This year, it’s 10 days. “So if you do if a celebrity does receive a positive test, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re out of the competition.
“It might be that they could miss a week and still get enough training into return. So that is slightly better than last year.”
Last series, boxer Nicola Adams and her professional partner Katya Jones were eliminated from the competition after the dancer tested positive for COVID.
This series, however, a positive test result doesn’t necessarily mean instant elimination.
Additional reporting by Lauren Morris.