Clara Amfo responds as Strictly ditches studio audience due to lockdown

Clara Amfo has admitted she is “a bit gutted” that Strictly Come Dancing has axed its studio audience due to the second national lockdown in England.

The BBC One show started the series with an audience of NHS staff before returning to the usual mix of contestants’ friends, family, celebrities and members of the public.

However, following the start of the month-long lockdown on Thursday, the weekend live shows will continue with an empty studio.

BBC Radio 1 DJ Amfo, 36, said fellow presenter Nick Grimshaw, also 36, would have been in the audience this weekend, cheering her on.

Speaking on BBC One’s Morning Live, she said: “I won’t lie, we were all a little bit gutted. Having your friends and family to cheer you on really adds to the experience, but I think the main thing is that the show itself is still on.

“That’s what we’re all extremely happy about – the show brings so much joy to so many people, particularly this year, I think we’ve needed it more than ever – I know that’s the reason why I said yes, please let me just dance it out. The escapism.

“I’m obviously gutted. Nick Grimshaw, who I love and is one of my bestest pals, he was supposed to come this weekend with his boyfriend – and I knew they were really excited.

“But they’ll be watching and cheering from home like everybody else. The show is still on so I think that’s what we’re all super happy about.”

The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You are also now inviting an online audience to watch the live recording of the shows from their homes.

Amfo also spoke about her wardrobe malfunction last week, when she ripped her skirt during a Viennese waltz with professional partner Aljaz Skorjanec.

She said: “Oh my goodness, Madonna’s been through it, Janet Jackson’s been through it, so I thought I would join some icons and have a wardrobe malfunction. It got caught on the table…

“I batted it away as quick as I could and then kept dancing.

“It’s a weird one; in that situation it’s a very fight or flight, and it’s that age-old thing ‘the show must go on’.

“I didn’t want to let Aljaz down. He’s very supportive. Aljaz, as we know, is an angel walking on this Earth.

“I just thought ‘I’ve just got to keep on going’. We did it. We Viennese-waltzed.

“So, this Saturday, it’s such a privilege to be on the show, and every week I’m so excited, but this week in particular I am so excited, because we’re doing Movie Week and we are doing Lady Marmalade from Moulin Rouge.

“We’re doing the Christina Aguilera/Pink version and we’re doing a tango and it’s just so fun – I’m going to get to be a showgirl.”

Amfo also recalled meeting US talk show host Oprah Winfrey at the launch of her 2018 film, A Wrinkle In Time.

She said: “Every time I see that picture I go ‘Wow, is that me?’ Actual Oprah.

“I met her at an event for her movie A Wrinkle In Time, that amazing kids’ film and we spent a bit of time talking.

“She just gave me a lot of advice – she was so warm and so loving and so open. Even now, looking at that picture, it freaks me out. I really cherish that moment, properly.”

– Former home secretary Jacqui Smith became the first celebrity to leave the show last weekend.