Strictly Come Dancing 2020: How Is It Actually All Going To Work?

We've got answers about social distancing, missing judges and whether there'll be a studio audience.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of questions about how this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing will work, which initially included whether it would even be able to go ahead.

However, after a huge effort from the production team to get the show on the road, it’s now just a few weeks until this year’s launch, and while there are still a few question marks hovering over the series, we still have more answers than we did earlier in the summer.

For those who are still a little confused as to what to expect when the BBC dance show returns to our screen, allow us to clear things up...

When will Strictly be back on our screens?

The BBC is actually yet to officially confirm a start date for this year’s series, but we do know that the series will be slightly shorter than recent years.

It’s been widely reported that the first live show will air on 24 October, which Strictly previously alluded to on their website, so it’s pretty much a given that’s when we can expect the show to be back.

The Strictly Come Dancing studio is set to reopen its doors again
The Strictly Come Dancing studio is set to reopen its doors again
Guy Levy/BBC

The BBC also been teased that some class of pre-recorded show, potentially this year’s launch episode, will be filmed two weeks earlier on 12 October.

Who are the famous contestants on this year’s line-up?

Because of the shorter run time, there are also fewer contestants than usual on the 2020 line-up, with 12 stars competing rather than the usual 15.

Jeff Spicer via Getty Images

Completing the line-up are Olympic boxer Nicola Adams – who will make up half of the show’s first ever same-sex pairing – and reality star Jamie Laing, who was supposed to appear on the show last year, but had to pull out due to an injury.

Take a look at the stars after their Strictly-fied make-overs below:

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing 2020: This Year's Contestants Get Their Glam On

Will the stars have to self-isolate with their professional partners?

According to the BBC, the stars and professionals won’t have to share a household, but they will be required to form a support bubble together, so they won’t need to social distance while they’re performing.

This means at last one half of each partnership will have to live alone for the duration of the series.

It’s also been revealed that the cast will be regularly tested for coronavirus, and if they are positive for Covid-19, they will need to self-isolate for two weeks, meaning they will lose their spot on the show. Brutal.

One of this year’s stars, HRVY, contracted coronavirus shortly after he was announced for the show, and was required to self-isolate.

He will still be allowed to compete in this year’s pre-recorded launch, provided he tests negative for Covid-19 before filming begins.

Will all of the judges be back?

The Strictly Come Dancing judges
The Strictly Come Dancing judges
Mike Marsland via Getty Images

Not in person, no. While regular judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas will all be back on the panel, this time around they’ll be doing it as a three-piece.

Bruno Tonioli, who has appeared on Strictly since its first series in 2004, usually flies between the UK and America, where he’s also a judge on Dancing With The Stars, but due to travel restrictions, was unable to do both shows in 2020.

While he won’t be in the studio this year, he will be offering weekly critiques during the Sunday night results show.

To adhere to social distancing, the judges will each sit in individual pods, spaced two metres apart, rather than their usual shared desk.

The judges' pods in the Strictly studio
The judges' pods in the Strictly studio

And yes, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will both be back on presenting duties, too.

Will Strictly have an audience in 2020?

Strictly’s executive producer Sarah James has said the crew is “prepped for any scenario” when it comes to the show’s studio audience.

“We’ve made plans for no audience, we’ve made plans for a distanced audience, and we’ve made plans for a full audience, and… whatever happens, we’ll obviously just be following the government guidelines,” she said.

Audiences will be seated at tables in this year's series
Audiences will be seated at tables in this year's series
Guy Levy

For the time being, it looks like Strictly producers are planning to have at least some class of crowd in the studio, with applications now open for any fans who want to be in this year’s audience.

What has been confirmed is that audience members will have to attend in groups of four, coming along with members of their household or support bubble.

Masks will be mandatory for any audience members whenever they’re on the Strictly set, and people will be seated at cabaret-style tables rather than the usual rows of chairs.

Will the show’s usual themed weeks be back in 2020?

Sadly, not all of them. For obvious reasons, Strictly has scrapped plans to take its annual trip to Blackpool, and despite Halloween falling on a Saturday night this year, bosses have also ditched the usual spooky special, as it would fall too early in the series.

The Blackpool Tower ballroom won't be getting a visit from the Strictly cast this year
The Blackpool Tower ballroom won't be getting a visit from the Strictly cast this year
Gregg Wolstenholme/Bav Media/Shutterstock

“We have done a Halloween group number but Halloween would fall on the second week this year and we thought it would be a bit soon for a themed week,” Sarah James explained.

However, both Movies Week and Musicals Week will be taking place as usual.

Which professionals are back this year?

Almost all of last year’s group will be back, with female pros Janette Manrara, Karen Hauer, Luba Mushtuk, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Katya Jones, Oti Mabuse, Nancy Xu and Nadiya Bychkova returning for the new series.

Male performers Anton Du Beke, Neil Jones, Gorka Marquez, Johannes Radebe, Graziano Di Prima, Giovanni Pernice and Aljaz Skorjanec.

A group of this year's Strictly Come Dancing professionals
A group of this year's Strictly Come Dancing professionals

For those of you who don’t feel like adding up, thats’ 16 professionals and only 12 contestants, Sarah James confirming it’s Nadiya, Neil, Graziano and Nancy who won’t be receiving celebrity partners, but they will appear in the pre-recorded group routines. They will also form a “close contact cohort” to be able to perform together during performances from musical guests on the results show.

The only two of last year’s bunch who won’t be back are AJ Pritchard and Kevin Clifton, who both made the decision to quit the show earlier in the year.

This year’s group dances were all pre-recorded over the summer, with the professionals self-isolating at a hotel to make sure they were able to film them safely.

Strictly Come Dancing will return to our screens next month.


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