Strictly Come Dancing's executive producer says celebrities and dancers won't be eliminated from the show straight away if they test positive for Covid.
Last year, the isolation period following a positive test result was 14 days, while this year, it's now down to 10 days of self-isolation.
Speaking to press ahead of the show's launch on Saturday, September 18th, Sarah James explained: "So if a celebrity does receive a positive test, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re out of the competition.
"It might be that they could miss a week and still get enough training into return. So that is slightly better than last year. Some stuff is better than last year, and some stuff is kind of the same. So it’s a bit of a hybrid."
Boxer Nicola Adams and her professional partner Katya Jones had to leave the competition after Katya tested positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the BBC has shared images of this year's line-up in all their spray tan and sequin glory, and last week, a new trailer was dropped on YouTube to get fans excited for the show's return.
Official photos of the full professional dancer line-up have also been released, which long-time star Gorka Marquez shared on his Instagram page.
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: when does Strictly start?
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 will begin on 18 September.
The start date was official announced by celebrity contestant Tom Fletcher on the show's official instagram account.
"The countdown is ON! Only 15 days to go until @tomfletcher and our #Strictly stars hit the dancefloor," the caption read.
Judge Motsi Mabuse commented: "It's a countdown."
Fellow celebrity contender John Whaite joked: "Erm, say what? We’ve still got months haven’t we? I HAVEN’T STRETCHED ENOUGH!!!"
Strictly recently confirmed the fifteen celebrities joining its line-up, along with its first all-male partnership.
The celebrities taking part are: McFly's Tom, actor and comedian Robert Webb, TV presenter AJ Odudu, 2012 Bake Off winner John Whaite, CBBC's Rhys Stephenson, Dragons' Den star Sara Davies, BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker and Corrie's Katie McGylnn.
2012 Bake Off winner John will feature in the show's first ever all-male partnership, which he described as "a great step forward in representation and inclusion".
John's dance partner has yet to be announced.
He will follow in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who became the first celebrity to have a same-sex pairing when she was partnered with pro-dancer Katya Jones.
This year's competition will feature 15 celebrities as it prepares to return for a full-length series on BBC One in September.
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be back as presenters.
Here's everything we know so far about Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - including the dancers, the judges and the rumoured celebrity contestants...
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The professional dancers
Four new dancers have been added to the line-up. They are former Dancing With The Stars Ireland professional Kai Widdrington, former Let’s Dance Germany professional Nikita Kuzmin, reigning South African Latin Champion Cameron Lombard, and Poland's Jowita Przystal, who won BBC One's The Greatest Dancer in 2020.
Our returning favourites also include Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Janette Manrara, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu, and Neil Jones.
"We are so thrilled to be welcoming back our incredible line-up of professional dancers for 2021," says Sarah James, Executive Producer, BBC Studios. "Their passion and dedication for Strictly shone through more than ever last year as they all sacrificed so much to deliver an unforgettable series during unprecedented and challenging times.
"With so much talent returning to the ballroom, the 2021 series promises more show-stopping choreography, memorable performances and world class dancing."
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The judges
The BBC has confirmed the return of judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel-Horwood, and Motsi Mabuse. Anton Du Beke will be replacing Bruno Tonioli on the panel, as he will have to stay in the US where he is a judge on Dancing with the Stars due to Covid restrictions.
Confirming his new role, Anton said in a statement: "My loves I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno's brogues for the next series of Strictly.
"It's a dream come true to be judging alongside the best of the best and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me."
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The celebrities
Five celebrities have been confirmed so far: McFly's Tom Fletcher, comedian and actor Robert Webb, TV presenter AJ Odudu, 2012 Bake Off winner John Whaite, and CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson. BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker, Sara Davies and Corrie's Katie McGlynn, Tilly Ramsay and actor Greg Wise complete the line-up so far.
Here are the celebrities being rumoured for the series:
Gordon Ramsay's daughter Matilda was recently touted to be joining the line-up, with bosses reportedly keen to draw in a younger audience by booking the 19-year-old. The TV presenter, chef and influencer is best known for presenting the BBC cooking show Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch on CBBC with her family.
Good Morning Britain presenter Ben Shephard is often rumoured for Strictly, and after admitting that he previously took a degree in ballet and dance at university, fans are desperate for him to sign up. Meanwhile, Shephard has said he'd like to part on the show before, and perhaps last year's Strictly star Ranvir Singh - who impressed viewers and the judges with her natural ballroom ability - might encourage him to take part this year.
TV presenter Ben Fogle recently admitted that he was "very close" to joining the series last year - until his children told him that it would be the most embarrassing thing ever if he took part.
"My two, Ludo and Iona, have been pretty supportive but they will tell me if I’ve done something they don’t like or if they’re embarrassed by something, for sure," Ben told Metro.
"I was very close to doing Strictly last year [Iona screams in the background ‘No!’] — there you go, you can hear them now! — but they were absolutely adamant it would be the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to them in their lives. So it didn’t happen because they are my harshest critics and I couldn’t bear the shame of it all."
Might the experience of Covid one year on have changed his perspective and make him want to seize such opportunity?
TV star Angellica Bell denied rumours that she was going to take part on Strictly despite former Strictly star Chris Ramsey being adamant she was joining the series on The One Show last. Bell did say she'd love to be partnered up with Johannes Radebe because she wants to "learn how to dance in heels". Johannes will be back as a pro dancer, so who knows, it could be Bell's year.
Ralf Little recently returned to our TV screens in BBC One's hit crime drama Death in Paradise, and he has prompted rumours he could take part in Strictly after complimenting the show and those who take part in it.
"Never say never!" he told Hello!. "I think it is very easy to be dismissive of these things. I think people who participate and do well in Strictly are learning a real skill, an art form, and there’s something really rewarding about that."
Radio and TV presenter Maya Jama has been linked to the show for a few years now, as her fans would obviously love her to take part. When asked whether she would consider taking part, Jama didn't rule it out.
"I don't know, I always say I don’t know," she told Radio Times. "I'd never say never to all of these things."
Definitely sounds like a maybe to us!
Former footballer, pundit and TV personality Rio Ferdinand has been linked to Strictly Come Dancing - and the star has a close relationship with the BBC, having starred in a number of TV documentaries about mental health and starting a new family with partner Kate Wright. Gabby Logan, who previously took part on the show, recently revealed that Ferdinand is constantly contacted by Strictly bosses to take part.
"I was trying to persuade Rio Ferdinand. You need to get your producers onto him. I almost had him," she told guest Tess Daly on her podcast MidPoint. "He said, 'Did you really enjoy it?' I said, "How often do they ask you?" He said, ‘Every year’. He'd be incredible, and he's a dancer!"
Ferdinand attended ballet school as a child.
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: When will it be back?
Last year's series launched a little later than previous series due to Covid. Usually, we see the show launch on the bank holiday weekend of August before arriving in September, but in 2020 the show didn't launch until 17 October, with the live shows staring on 24 October.
We don't know whether there will be delays again - and although we're on the roadmap out of lockdown, and all restrictions should be lifted by 21 June, there's still some uncertainty, so watch this space.
However, according to judge Craig, Strictly will be back with all the bells and whistles this year - and for a full run. "I’m really looking forward to it," he told GMB in March. "I think the BBC did an amazing job and have protocols in place for absolutely every single situation, so you will get Strictly and a much fuller version this year."
Who won Strictly Come Dancing 2020?
Oti Mabuse won it again for the second consecutive year with comedian Bill Bailey. The final featured Bailey, EastEnders star Maisie Smith, Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing and singer HRVY battling it out.
Strictly Come Dancing returns for its 19th series on September 18th on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
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