The BBC has revealed it uses a “speed dating” technique to pair Strictly Come Dancing professionals with their celebrity partners.
Strictly producers stage what they call a “chemistry circle” in which all the contestants and dancers meet for the first time.
Aljaž Škorjanec, one of the pro dancers, explained: “They put us in a circle. We do a salsa and a waltz. The celebrities do, like, four steps and then we sort of move on.”
A fellow dancer, Dianne Buswell, said she referred to the process as “speed dating”.
As the celebrities dance with each professional in turn, producers walk around the room observing which pairings have the greatest chemistry.
Footage of this year’s session will be included in a BBC One special, Strictly The Professionals, to be broadcast this Saturday.
It features interviews with former contestants. Jake Wood, the EastEnders actor, said the event was unnerving: “The producers all walk around and you’re not sure what they’re looking at,” he said.
Mollie King, the singer and 2017 semi-finalist, joked that “all of us female contestants danced with all of the pro boys and it was one of the best moments of my life, just being swung from man to man”.
Brian Conley, the comedian, said the professional dancers were more interested in where the celebrities were based than their dancing ability.
He recalled: “Everyone will come up to you and say, ‘Hello, where do you live?’ I thought, why does everyone want to know where I live? And it’s because they know they’ve got to rehearse with you and they don’t want to be too far away from London.”