Will Bayley drops out of Strictly – but what does it mean for the live shows?
Could a couple return to the dance floor? Will elimination be cancelled this week? We look at the options…
The 31-year-old Paralympic athlete, who was paired with Janette Manrara, tearfully confirmed he had quit the show on Strictly: It Takes Two, and has since admitted he fears he will not be able to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Bayley is the second contestant from this series who has been forced to withdraw, after Jamie Laing bowed out after he injured his foot during training before the show had even kicked off on TV.
But what could Bayley’s sudden and unexpected exit from the show mean for the rest of Strictly? We weighed up the possibilities…
1. Will Bayley is replaced
With Laing replaced by Kelvin Fletcher at the start of Strictly, it could be possible that Manrara may find herself with a new celebrity partner for the latter stages of the competition. Standby celebs are not uncommon in competition shows (Dancing on Ice and The Jump tend to have someone to step in if needed), so a new face in the Strictly line-up is not beyond the realms of possibility.
However, as we are now seven weeks into the competition, it would seem hugely daunting (and really quite unfair) if someone was to step in now in these late stages - so the chances of this happening are unlikely.
2. A former contestant comes back
While we’ve not had any huge scandals this year, (Seann Walsh and Katya Jones’s passionate kiss in 2018 being just a distant memory) it’s not to say this series of Strictly has been without its kick-offs.
Dev Griffin’s exit in week four caused uproar among fans, with many believing him to be a frontrunner in the competition. Catherine Tyldesley’s departure two weeks later also caused a commotion as fans believed Mike Bushell should have been given the boot.
It would be a nice gesture to have a former star return to the show to make up the numbers, but it would also be a bit of a two-fingers up to the judges for their decision to be overruled by producers.
3. The dance-off is cancelled
As Bayley bowed out mid-week, we are already one celebrity down ahead of this weekend's show. Strictly is scheduled to run for a certain number of weeks, so producers may decide to give everyone a bye through to week eight to even out the numbers.
- "It would be devastating" : Strictly star Will Bayley fears leg injury will stop him competing at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
When the voting system collapsed way back in 2008, Tom Chambers was put through to the finals of the competition despite being the lowest scoring contestant, and the dance off was cancelled – with Chambers even going on to win the whole show.
However, 2008 is a long time ago and we’ve yet to see a dance-off be cancelled since.
4. Nothing changes
The best way of handling a Strictly injury? Completely ignoring it.
After all, it’s not the first time someone has dropped out the show due to injury, illness or reasons that aren’t quite so clear. Back in 2016, when Will Young unexpectedly pulled out, dance-offs and eliminations carried on as normal. Instead of a four-horse race in the final, we may only see three contenders – as we did with Louise Redknapp, Danny Mac and Ore Oduba.
Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One, Saturday at 7pm