Strictly Come Dancing is the “hardest” show to film under current circumstances, the BBC’s head of entertainment has said, but the professionals are already rehearsing the group numbers for when it returns later this year, with altered sets and changes to hair, make-up and costuming.
Kate Phillips, entertainment controller at the BBC, offered an update on the flagship entertainment shows to the virtual Edinburgh TV Festival, saying the dancing competition will be more special than ever.
She said: “Strictly is probably the question we get asked more than any other show.
“I can say it absolutely is coming back – it is a slightly shorter run, but apart from that I don’t think it will be a lesser show at all. If anything I think it will be special this series, there will be heightened emotions and a lot of the dances will have real poignancy.
“The pros have been isolating together for the last couple of weeks, they are now rehearsing together, the big dance numbers, it looks so good seeing them dance.
“We will announce the celebrity line-up at the end of this month, we are planning it now but they are all on board and very excited.
“We are having to adapt, the set is having to be altered, we are not quite sure at this stage how much audience we will be able to have in and we have to look at Dave Arch and his band, how hair and make-up and costume will work backstage.
“It’s probably the hardest show to do in the current circumstances, a live weekly show that relies on body contact quite a lot. Having said that, I think Studios (BBC Studios, which makes the show) have really risen to the challenge and there is that old line, necessity is the mother of invention, and I would say across all the entertainment shows we are seeing constant good ideas.”
Phillips confirmed that The Apprentice has been postponed until next year because it would be impossible to film some of the most popular elements of the series.
She said: “The Apprentice was a really hard call because we all really love The Apprentice. We had long discussions with the production team.
“We felt in the end the compromise that would have to be made, a lot of things that people love, the running around the streets, the living in the house together, we just couldn’t do it, and with the increasing costs, we thought we would rather bring it back when we can do it properly, so that is paused until next year.”
However, she added: “Top Gear is very much up and running. The big difference is we won’t be able to do all the foreign trips, although a couple were done before lockdown.
“The inventiveness they have brought to the table, they are very, very funny, proper belly laughs.”
The panel, which also featured BBC head of content Charlotte Moore and head of drama Piers Wenger, also showed a clip from Freddie Flintoff’s documentary about his battle with bulimia.