ENTERTAINMENT
28/09/2021 14:35 BST

Anton Du Beke Speaks Out Amid Reports Strictly Bosses Could 'Scrap Studio Audience'

Tabloid reports suggested Strictly may introduce more severe measures after Tom Fletcher tested positive Covid-19.

Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton Du Beke has addressed tabloid reports suggesting that producers are “considering scrapping” the show’s studio audience after two cast members contracted Covid-19.

Over the weekend, Tom Fletcher and his professional partner Amy Dowden tested positive for coronavirus, and will miss this week’s live show while they self-isolate.

Following this, The Sun published an article suggesting that Strictly bosses were “holding crisis meetings where they may consider scrapping the studio audience”.

During an appearance on Tuesday’s Steph’s Packed Lunch, Anton played down this speculation, pointing out Strictly’s studio audience is already massively reduced compared to most years.

Channel 4
Anton Du Beke

“The [first live show] didn’t have a huge audience anyway,” he explained to presenter Steph McGovern. “I think it’s only family of the contestants that are in the studio anyway.”

Addressing additional reports that bubbles for contestants and their professional partners may be reintroduced, he continued: “You kind of are bubbling anyway, because for the whole of the week, you’re just with your partner… and they’re rehearsing in the studio by themselves.

“They’ll be rehearsing every day, and they don’t come into contact with anybody. On Fridays, you go into the studio, but it’s not everybody at the same time, it’s sort of staggered through the day, because you’re doing your rehearsal in the studio and fittings and etc.

“On show day, everyone’s in the studio at the same time – but, even then, you’re sort of bubbled off in your own dressing room, and all the team comes to you. Hair and makeup, they come to you, with all the gear on, and everyone’s been tested so there’s all of that.”

He added: “There’s no communal space. In the old days, you’d go to the makeup room and everybody turns up and you get your slap on. But now, we’re all in our own rooms, with a designated team for them to come and sort them out.

“Tom is on tour with his band doing big arenas with big audiences there, so they’ve just got a bit unlucky, really. But no one’s been in contact with Tom and Amy through the show, because the situation will have been the same for them.”

Ray Burmiston/BBC
Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden

Strictly contestant John Whaite was also in the studio, and insisted: “Producers have contingency plans for any kind of Covid scenario. I genuinely do feel safe there, we’re not in contact with anybody.

“Hair and makeup come to us, they’re in full PPE. And I just wish Tom and Amy all the best.”

A Strictly spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by HuffPost UK about The Sun’s report.

However, they did point out that Strictly is already operating with a reduced audience, with strict social distancing measures being enforced in the studio.

While Tom and Amy are currently self-isolating, the BBC has confirmed that they will be able to return to the competition for week three.

The McFly singer was the first of this year’s Strictly stars to perform on Saturday night, earning 21 points from the judges for his Cha Cha.

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday night at 6.45pm on BBC One. Steph’s Packed Lunch airs every weekday from 12.30pm on Channel 4.