With another lockdown looming, many Strictly Come Dancing fans will be wondering if the BBC One entertainment show can continue bringing a bit of sparkle to Saturday nights – or whether it will be a casualty of coronavirus restrictions.
Here’s what we know so far.
What has Strictly said?
Asked whether Strictly Come Dancing will continue despite the national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the coronavirus briefing, a Strictly spokesperson told RadioTimes.com that there was no official comment.
The week two live show did begin a few minutes late thanks to Johnson’s briefing, which Tess Daly acknowledged with the words: “On a tough night we will try our very best to keep you entertained.”
Claudia Winkleman also joked that contestant Jamie Laing should be allowed to take home the Glitterball trophy early – as Strictly might have to “go night night”.
Will Strictly continue – despite the national lockdown?
The short answer is: we don’t know – but we think so!
After the results show which saw the first contestant sent home, Tess and Claudia very much teased next week’s Movie Week, so for now, it’s business as usual.
The latest lockdown rules in England, which will come into effect on Thursday 5th November, differ from the first lockdown in March.
The Prime Minister emphasised that people should work from home if possible – but said workplaces can remain open where that is not possible. And the BBC Strictly studio at Elstree is certainly a workplace.
In addition, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted: “The changes mean people should WFH where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”
BFI (British Film Institute) CEO Ben Roberts added: “Covid-secure Film & TV production is permitted under the new guidelines.”
Earlier in October, The Sun had previously reported an unnamed source as saying: “The BBC are fully prepared to axe this series of Strictly if a full lockdown happens. They couldn’t even delay the show until early next year because of a number of issues, including them being unable to use their usual studios. While everyone is hopeful it won’t happen, preparations have been made if it does.
“Everyone working on the show has done their utmost to keep it on air and if a local lockdown happens in London, where the studios are, Strictly bosses will ask for special dispensation to see if they can continue.”
However, it does look like they wouldn’t even need to ask for special dispensation under the lockdown rules announced on Saturday 31st October.
How could the lockdown affect Strictly Come Dancing?
It’s possible that Strictly could scrap the studio audience, which has already been reduced to a small number of people in black face masks.
The BBC has already made several Strictly Come Dancing COVID changes, including the judges’ socially distanced desks and the contestants having to isolate in bubbles prior to the series.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk back in September, Strictly boss Sarah Jones indicated that the show was prepared for any eventuality – which, theoretically, would include filming during another lockdown.
She said: “We are prepared for any scenario. We’ve made plans for no audience, we’ve made plans for a distanced audience, and we’ve made plans for a full audience. Whatever happens, we’ll obviously just be following the government guidelines.”
And in an interview published on 29th October, two days before the national lockdown was announced, Jones told Broadcast magazine that the show’s approach was to “operate on a case-by-case basis and figure stuff out as you go along.”
In terms of shutting down production, she explained that “if there were a lot of cases, we would have to discuss whether to pause” – but the Strictly boss was referring to hypothetical COVID cases within the show’s cast and crew, rather than in the country at large.
The Strictly Come Dancing results show airs on Sunday 1st November, and continues (hopefully) with the week three live show on Saturday 7th November. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.