For some time now, we've known that this year's Strictly Come Dancing will be a little different than usual, with a shorter series, a reduced audience and judge Bruno Tonioli unable to attend the filming studio in person.
Ahead of the show coming back to our screens this autumn, executive producer Sarah James spoke to Goodhousekeeping.com/uk and other press about all the ways the show will be changed this year.
"It's obviously been a really challenging time for myself and the team to come up with a plan of how we can bring the show this year, under all of the current restrictions. I'm really proud of the team and what we've managed to achieve already so far," Sarah said.
"Our main thing was to keep everybody safe, and to make sure everybody was comfortable," she added.
From couples forming support bubbles to social distancing in Claudia Winkleman's usually raucous upstairs area, here's what you can expect...
The series will be shorter this year with more pre-recorded elements.
The pro dancers have pre-recorded 14 group numbers which will air during the live shows, as opposed to filming them just ahead of the live show, as has been the norm previously. Because of the work this entails and the fact it takes the crew longer to load sets while social distancing, the live run of episodes will be shorter this year.
"We're having a launch show followed by a nine-week live run. There'll be no elimination on the first week, as per previous series and the first results show will be on week two," Sarah said.
Halloween week is cancelled this year.
"We will have movie week and we will have musicals week, we won't have Halloween week this year, although we have done a Halloween group number," Sarah said.
"Halloween actually falls on the second week this year so we thought it might be a bit early for a themed week. Obviously we won't be able to go up to Blackpool this year, unfortunately, but we will be doing a very special celebration of Blackpool."
The launch show will feature some big changes.
We're used to the series kicking off with a huge launch show, featuring all of the celebs and pros dancing together as one. Of course, that kind of mixing isn't possible this year.
"We will still have a group dance with the celebrities so everybody will have a little taste of what the celebrities can do on that launch show. But obviously, where they usually all dance together, that won't be possible this year so all of the celebrities will just be dancing with their pro partners for that number," Sarah said.
Dancers will form 'Close Contact Cohorts' and support bubbles.
Strictly is making use of some government exemptions from social distancing rules to allow its dancers to perform together.
"We’re using Close Contact Cohorts, which is an industry workplace guideline, and also support bubbles," Sarah said.
"Close Contact Cohorts basically apply to people who need to be able to work more closely together, and break social distancing in order to do their job. It has to be an exclusive CCC so it has to just be with one person and you are regularly tested to be in a CCC.
"On top of that, we are also asking our celebrities and dancers to be part of an exclusive support bubble... that means that one half of the party has to live alone. So, either the dancer or the celebrity will be living on their own in order to form the exclusive support bubble," she said.
Four pros won't have celeb partners and will form CCCs together.
"We have four professional dancers who won't be partnering celebrities, this year. They are Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Graziano di Prima and Nancy Xu. So, we have two males and two females and they will be forming CCCs together so that they are able to dance in the guest music acts," Sarah said.
Couples won't be paired in the studio.
"The big difference is we're going to be pairing up the celebrities with their pro dancers in a VT [a video recording] rather than in studio like previous years. It’s obviously a bit more difficult with distancing, but we've got some incredible locations for those VTs," Sarah explained.
Claudia's upstairs area will look a lot less crowded.
While Tess keeps things smooth sailing on the dancefloor, Claudia is known for running a raucous upstairs area that's bustling and filled with laughter. While we're sure there'll be plenty of jokes flying still, it's set to be much quieter this season.
"Claudia will obviously only be able to speak to one couple at a time in her area and we won't be able to have all of the cast up there like usual, but Claudia is so brilliant with the people and with the contestants so I have no doubt that she'll still be able to have lots of fun just with one couple," Sarah said.
"The other couples will be watching from the audience this year. We've got distanced tables for them and they will all be able to watch each other, so I think we'll still really get that sense of camaraderie and have them all being able to support each other. We've come up with some other creative fun ideas of things that we can do up in Claudia's area."
Bruno won't be there in-person, but he'll still be able to give his thoughts.
"He will actually be able to watch the show on a live link over in LA. And then, although he won't be scoring, we'll get an update from him on what he thinks of the couples, and he'll also be able to call out his fellow judges in the results show if he disagrees with them," Sarah said.
Some music will be pre-recorded.
"I can't imagine Strictly without Dave Arch and the band [but] there will obviously again be some differences," Sarah explained. "We aren't able to fit the whole of the band in the band pit so parts of the band will be pre-recorded earlier in the week. But Dave will be there, the singers will be there and a few other key members of the band."
Hair and makeup stylists will be placed with specific dancers.
"Previously, the hair and makeup teams were able to work with as many of the different cast members as they wanted to or needed to. Whereas this year we'll have specific hair and makeup people assigned to specific couples to make sure that people aren't mixing too much," Sarah added.
Strictly Come Dancing will air on BBC One.
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