Strictly Come Dancing says cha-cha-ciao to COVID as bosses prepare to ditch plastic barriers

Strictly Come Dancing says cha-cha-ciao to COVID as bosses prepare to ditch plastic barriers, bring studio audiences back and return to Blackpool after two years away

Strictly Come Dancing bosses are ready to take the next two stages of COVID-19 restrictions by removing the plastic barriers used to separate its four judges.

The BBC show implemented a series of new guidelines, including restrictive social bubbles, no studio audiences and protective safety signs as the coronavirus pandemic brought the UK to a standstill in 2020.

But in a move that suggests mainstream television is ready to emerge from the health crisis, producers are ready to abandon the protocol that has remained in place to varying degrees for the past two years.

Back to normal: Strictly Come Dancing bosses are ready to take the next two stages of COVID-19 restrictions by removing the plastic barriers used to separate its four judges

Show favorite Anton Du Beke – confirmed as long-term replacement for outgoing judge Bruno Tonioli last week – has recently issued a call to remove barriers ahead of his 21st series later this year.

He told The Express: “Hopefully we can get a little closer so we can chat a little more amongst ourselves.”

It is understood bosses are also aiming for a return to the Blackpool Tower, a focal point during the show’s November special, after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic.

Speaking: Anton Du Beke recently made a plea to break down barriers (LR: Judges Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse)

Speaking: Anton Du Beke recently made a plea to break down barriers (LR: Judges Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse)

However, key changes away from the Strictly base at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire will remain in place, including the decision to film every group number with its professional crew as a single batch.

A BBC insider explained: “Bosses are strictly planning to pre-record some of the professional dance routines again this summer.”

“They also hope studio audiences will come back to watch the show live every week.”

A thing of the past: The BBC show implemented a series of new guidelines, including protective safety signs as the coronavirus pandemic crippled the UK in 2020

A thing of the past: The BBC show implemented a series of new guidelines, including protective safety signs as the coronavirus pandemic crippled the UK in 2020

New judge Anton will be joined by Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Chief Justice Shirley Ballas on the comeback show, the BBC confirmed last week.

Reacting to his permanent role, Anton admitted he was “thrilled” to become a regular judge as he will replace Italian star Bruno, who left the show after 18 years to focus on the US variant Dancing With The Stars.

He added: ‘Woohooo! That’s excellent news. Everyone knows how much I love the show and I’m excited to continue as a regular judge. And I can make the final again – now I know how Giovanni feels!

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