In the 16 years Strictly Come Dancing first descended on the world in a haze of sequins, it's come to be emblematic of all things feel-good, wholesome and, of course, sparkly.


If the rumours are true, however, the 2020 series could be very different to the Planet Strictly we know and love.

Reports suggest Strictly 2020 might go ahead without group dances, without a live studio audience and without the beloved fan-favourite Blackpool Week special.

And, while the BBC chose not to comment on speculation, within the context of the global coronavirus pandemic, changes to the show seem inevitable. In a world where social distancing is key to collective safety, a dance competition has some serious hurdles to overcome.

But Strictly without an audience really does sound painfully bleak.

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What looks to be beckoning come September is a programme with its heart ripped out; a shadowy spectre of what once was. Without a studio audience, there is nothing to represent that which makes the show so special: the family.

Strictly is a community, as much a feeling as it is an entertainment programme. Never does this hit home quite as hard as during Blackpool Week which, every year, opens with a montage of locals from all walks of life readying the city, bracing with excitement and anticipation for the glitterbomb to come.

Strictly fever is inclusive, a party to which everyone is invited, and few shows in the calendar unite people in quite the same way.

Without the live audience - and without Blackpool Week - it's emptier, devoid of the charm and community engagement which sets our screens alight as the season starts to turn.

Nevertheless, the show must go on. Now, more than ever, we need a healthy dose of that togetherness, that warmth and harmless cheer. If we're still sequestered, inter-household hugs prohibited, large gatherings off the table, nothing will soften the continuous blows of the current state of things like Strictly will.

So, a plea to Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC: forge on. Give us whatever Strictly you can. And get creative when it comes to allowing the fans into the show in new, innovative ways.

So long as the heart's still there, a different Strictly is far better than no Strictly at all.


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