ENTERTAINMENT
29/04/2020 07:38 BST

Strictly Come Dancing ‘Big Priority’ For BBC But ‘Inevitable’ It Will Look Different, Says Show's Boss

The broadcaster’s entertainment boss hinted the dance show might not have a studio audience this year.

The BBC has said it is “looking very carefully” at how this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing can go ahead in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 18th series of the dance show is due to return to our screens in September, but if it does go ahead it’s likely to look very different.

BBC entertainment boss Kate Phillips said the flagship series might not feature a studio audience for the first time in the show’s 16 year history. 

Mike Marsland via Getty Images
Strictly judges (L-R) Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli.

Speaking during an online session held by the Edinburgh TV Festival as part of its The Controller series, Kate said it was one of the BBC’s “big priorities”.

“We are absolutely looking very carefully at Strictly and how we could do Strictly this autumn,” she said.

“That is absolutely one of our big priorities, making sure we can bring you a great Strictly. But I think inevitably things are going to change.”

She added: “The other thing I would say is, if it is shiny floor [light entertainment] it needs an audience, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

“When you look at something like Drag Race, which is a big shiny floor talent competition with all sorts of catwalks, singing, dancing, impressions – it never has an audience.

“The audience is the four judges and I don’t think it suffers from that at all. I think it is a brilliant show.”

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2019 Strictly champs Oti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher.

The BBC boss also revealed that every area of television had been affected by the lockdown.

She said: “Obviously, there were things that were in the middle of filming that were not going to be playable until the following autumn.

“But that was just as catastrophic for us as the ones which were coming up next week that we couldn’t get the crews for.

“I would say, actually, every genre has been affected.”

The end of the free TV licence for all over-75s has been delayed until August because of the pandemic.

Asked whether this had impacted the BBC’s content budget, she said: “I’m afraid none of us in the country are not going to have to deal with some financial consequences from all of this.

“So yes, I have absolutely no doubt we will all be affected.

“Where that quite lands all depends on where we get back into production.

“I think that’s one of the hardest things because there is so much uncertainty.

“We are trying to work with the budgets we have got, but not really knowing where we will end up and how much money we will have spent this year, and how much money we will have for next year.

“But yes, we are not going to be immune from financial constraints, I’m afraid.”

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