Strictly Come Dancing contestant HRVY has revealed he had “bowed out” of this year’s competition after testing positive for coronavirus.
It was well documented that the singer was forced into a two-week self isolation earlier this month after being diagnosed with Covid-19, but behind the scenes, he had actually preemptively withdrawn from the BBC show.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, HRVY told of his shock at being told he was still part of the line-up after later receiving a negative result.
He said: “When I tested positive, I thought, ‘OK cool, maybe next year or the year after, it is what it is, you can’t change it.’ I kind of just bowed out, and was like, ‘No worries, thank you so much for having me there.’
“Everyone was meeting their partners, there was photoshoots, idents and pre-titles, wardrobe fittings – loads of stuff. I was just sitting at home. But in the back of my head, I wasn’t doing it anyway so I wasn’t worried. So when they said, ‘No you’ve tested negative, you’re coming tomorrow,’ it was like, ‘OK, we’re back in the run!’
“I was so happy and my mum was beside herself, running around the house screaming. It’s cool that I’ve got this far.”
Praising the “amazing” BBC, the 21 year old continued: “When I came out [of isolation] they managed to fit all of the things I’d missed in two weeks into one day.”
HRVY also admitted he “never would have known” he had Covid-19 unless he’d had one of the regular tests the BBC implemented to let the show go ahead safely, as he was asymptomatic.
“I was lucky in a sense,” he said. “But it just shows how easy it is for us youngsters – and others – to get it and not realise and pass it on. Everyone has just got to wear their masks and socially distance and hopefully we’ll be alright.”
HRVY said he feels as if he’s “picked a special year” to do Strictly as it is “bringing some entertainment to people’s homes for people that need it.” However, he was actually approached to be part of the 2019 series, which was won by Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse.
“Last year, they asked my management, but I was on tour,” he revealed. “I loved the idea of it and was buzzing, but I literally couldn’t do it because of schedules.
“This year, my stuff has obviously been moved to next year because of what’s happened, so I was like, ‘yo, have you got another space this year please?’ And they welcomed it with open arms, which was amazing.”
HRVY has since been paired up with professional dancer Janette Manrara, and Saturday’s first live show will see them take to the floor for their first competitive performance, a Jive to Faith by Stevie Wonder feat. Ariana Grande.
Janette has made a huge sacrifice in order to take part in Strictly this year, agreeing to live apart from husband and fellow Strictly pro Aljaz Skorjanec – who is paired up with Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo – for the first time in 10 years.
While HRVY says they are regularly keeping in touch via FaceTime in breaks during rehearsals, he revealed the couple have a harsh reality when they see each other at the Strictly studios.
He explained: “We’ve been so busy in rehearsals, so her mind has been taken off it a lot, but she definitely misses him. Everyday, she says, ‘Oh I miss Aljaz so much.’
“Sometimes she’ll see him passing through a corridor, but obviously, they have to stand two metres apart. I’m there standing next to her or leaning or her or whatever talking to Aljaz, it’s just so hard. I feel so bad. It will be worth it though and they’re both ready to make that sacrifice.”
And with HRVY already having impressed viewers and head judge Shirley Ballas during his dancefloor debut in last week’s group routine, he’s already become one of the bookies’ favourites to life the Glitterball Trophy.
Asked if he’s feeling that pressure, he replied coyly: “I can move a little bit but the other contestants are amazing as well. Seeing them dance in rehearsals, I was like, ‘wow, everyone can move, genuinely’. It’s going to be a tough year because everyone looks like they could be a favourite and there’s a lot of dark horses.”
Naming Billy Bailey as one to watch, he added: “He’s picking it up. He’s got it in his bones and he’s a musician as well. When I saw him, I couldn’t believe it. I hate to sound so surprised, but he looks great and he was quite proud of himself.
“I can’t wait for him to get better and better each week.”
Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday at 7.25pm on BBC One.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.