As Strictly Come Dancing looms on the horizon, the BBC is looking for ways it can still film its flagship entertainment show – despite the massive challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The hugely popular TV show should return in September with a new cast of celebrities determined to waltz their way to glitterball glory. But as producers look ahead to autumn, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll be able to go ahead with filming as usual.
How do you maintain two metres of separation on a dance show with a massive cast and crew? Will there be a way to produce the show without breaching government rules? And is it possible to make a show like Strictly without putting judges, hosts, dancers, celebrity contestants or the studio audience in danger of infection?
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, told The Times: “We’re looking at how that would work. Could you quarantine people? Can we test everyone before filming?
“There’s a lot of work being done. It’s a big task.”
The BBC boss has also raised the idea of getting rid of the live studio audience altogether, a move which would significantly change the feel of the show – but might be a workable compromise.
The idea of “quarantining people” is also pretty bold, as the celebrities and professional dancers would have to agree to total lockdown – possibly together. It would also require strict measures for the show’s hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, and judges Bruno Tonioli, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood.
But Moore, who is among the favourites to replace BBC Director-General Tony Hall when he steps down this summer, made clear that the broadcaster was determined to make Strictly happen if at all possible.
All options are being considered, including taking participants’ temperatures and even installing glass divides inside the studio “so that people feel even more protected”, she said.
Strictly Come Dancing usually airs from September on BBC One. To find out what’s on this week, check out our TV Guide.