Strictly has bedded in beautifully this year but will the show be heading to Blackpool?
While it looks like the worst of the pandemic is over, and this current series is back to its full length again, fans of the show are, sadly, still up for disappointment.
Although makeup-heavy Movie and Halloween weeks have thankfully been reinstated, the annual pilgrimage to Blackpool has been ditched for a second year running,
Why? Because of that blasted Covid of course! Why else?
Sadly no Strictly Blackpool
Strictly Come Dancing executive producer Sarah James has said: “We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future.”
One of those handy tittle-tattle sources told the Mirror that show bosses didn’t want to risk going to Blackpool for safety reasons.
“Production had to make an early call on it and sadly couldn’t make it work due to the advanced planning and logistics required plus the uncertainty over the ever-changing Covid protocols,” they said.
This means fans won’t get to see their favourite stars being swept across the legendary Tower Ballroom.
When did Blackpool become a Strictly thing?
Strictly first set off to Blackpool in its third ever episode in May 2004, and again for the 2005 final where Jill Halfpenny triumphed.
It was only in 2009 when the jaunt up north became a series fixture, when the show’s studio at TVC was temporarily taken over by Children In Need.
It proved so popular with viewers that producers decided to return to the Tower every year and gave celebs a special moment during the series to aim for.
Why is Tower Ballroom so special?
To most of us, Blackpool is a chilly seaside town, but to the ballroom dancing fraternity, it’s akin to Hollywood.
Many of the major competitions take place in the town and they attract the best dancers from all over the world.
“Everybody knows about Blackpool,” Giovanni Pernice says, while fellow pro Pasha Kovalev, who competed in Blackpool before joining Strictly, says the town is a Mecca for ballroom dancing.
“Thousands and thousands of dancers come here every year,” he says. “Every single dancer, every year I remember growing up – you wanted to get to Blackpool at some point in your life. So when I first got here it was absolutely incredible.’
What happens when Strictly goes to Blackpool?
When the huge Strictly crew arrive in, the team make themselves at home and try to squeeze all their camera equipment, lights, costumes and makeup into the historic building.
“We turn broom closets into dressing rooms for our cast. They literally are tiny little broom closets,” Strictly line producer Kate Jones told radio Times.
“We even use a large toilet as our physio room. So the poor physio gets to spend the whole day in the toilet. We do cover the toilets for them.”
Having been built in 1899, the decadent building wasn’t exactly designed with the demands of future TV in mind.
So the temporary backstage area set up by the production team is a maze of cramped corridors, lined with tech equipment and small rooms which are commandeered by the wardrobe and makeup departments.
Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly have their own dressing rooms but they are not quite as grand as they are used to (even if Claudia’s is home to a grand piano stored in the corner).
The pros have to share dressing rooms – one for men, one for women – which get very hot on show night, which is one of the reasons why Blackpool is not happening this year.
Even though the celebs have to slum it, they still get excited by the jaunt north.
“In Elstree we’ve all got our own lovely modern dressing rooms and in Blackpool it’s a bit makeshift,” Faye Tozer told Radio Times in 2019.
“But it brings everyone together. This is the entertainment biz – we’ve all changed in a toilet.”
And something else that is different to the Elstree studio – the floor at the Tower Ballroom is springy!
Springy Strictly floor
When the team are dancing on it you can actually see it wobble and occasionally makes some dancers feel queasy!
Because the ballroom is much bigger than the studio back in London, producers fill the floor with larger than normal props and extra dancers to create more elaborate routines that look good in the auditorium and on the telly.
They transport some from Elstree, but the judges’ desk and the plush booth where Claudia chats to the dancers actually live in Manchester and the dusters get busy once a year for the Blackpool special.
So what can we expect instead of Strictly Blackpool this year?
Well, last year, to make up for not travelling north, show producers, brought Blackpool to London and the cast put on a show to remember set against a seaside backdrop.
Though producers are keeping plans close to their chest, we can expect them to once again to put on an extravagant show.
Will there be a Strictly tour in 2022?
Depending on whether or not Covid is behaving itself, a 2022 tour looks likely to go ahead. Hoorah!
In fact, tickets are already on sale, kicking off in Birmingham on January 20-23.
The tour, which will feature many of this season’s stars, will take in Leeds (Jan 25-26), Newcastle (27-28), Manchester (Jan 29-30) Sheffield (Feb 1-2), Liverpool (Feb 4), Glasgow (Feb 5), Nottingham (Feb 9-10), London (Feb 11-13)
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