Former judge Arlene Phillips worries about Strictly ignoring older contestants this year

Will coronavirus shielding mean that only younger celebs can take part?

arlene phillips

The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 rumours list is growing longer by the day, with the likes of Emily Atack, Michelle Keegan and Jack P Shepherd reportedly being considered for the show.

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However with the future of this year’s series in doubt, questions are being asked about what the 2020 series might look like.

Original Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips is particularly concerned about rumours that the show may only look to sign up younger contestants, because of worries about coronavirus affecting older people more severely than their younger counterparts.

“I think it would be a really difficult situation [if Strictly didn’t allow older contestants],” says Arlene, 77, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “There are lots of 70-year-olds still bounding around like puppy dogs, their mental age is still in their 50s. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like being in my 70s, or what’s supposed to have happened to me.

“Of course the last thing I want to do is take a chance of infecting someone or becoming seriously ill with coronavirus, so I’m absolutely sticking to the rules –  I have not seen my granddaughter even from a distance for 11 weeks. But I can’t imagine a 70-year-old having to act in a different way to someone who is 69.”

Strictly has welcomed many 60-something contestants over the years, including Anneka Rice, Anita Dobson and Lulu as well as over 70s Paul Daniels, Johnny Ball and Lesley Joseph. Arlene hopes that contestants of that age won’t be written off this year.

“I wish there was a very simple health test instead,” she suggests. “I know when I’m making a film or doing a TV programme that you have to do a health test to make sure you can get through the period of working and you’re told if you’re not strong enough. Personally I’m bursting to get out and into a rehearsal room at 10am.”

Arlene is currently working on various projects during lockdown, including choreography for a new musical and a new TV dance-drama, which she is creating alongside “someone everyone knows” – but she is sworn to secrecy about any further details!

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Strictly Come Dancing is due to return to our screens in the autumn. To find out what else is on in the mean time, check out our TV Guide.