'Strictly' promises full-length series in 2021 but says no return to Blackpool due to COVID

Claudia Winklemann and Tess Daly arriving at the red carpet launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2019, held at BBC TV Centre in London, UK. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Claudia Winklemann and Tess Daly will be returning with a full-length series of Strictly Come Dancing this year. (Getty Images)

Strictly Come Dancing bosses have promised fans a full-length series this year but said the show will not be able to return to Blackpool due to the pandemic.

COVID restrictions saw the show cut short last year from 13 weeks to just nine, with the cast and crew quarantined in hotels. This led to the cancellation of both the highly popular Halloween Week and the annual trip to Blackpool's famous Tower Ballroom.

Executive producer Sarah James told The Mirror: “We’re so thrilled that Strictly will be returning for a full-length series this year, and know how much viewers are looking forward to getting their full Strictly fix and seeing the return of much-loved specials.”

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She added: “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."

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Strictly first featured the Blackpool Ballroom Week – in front of a larger live audience – in the second series, and has returned almost every year since series seven. It usually takes place in week nine.

Due to the shorter series in 2020, Halloween fell during the second week of the show. The themed week is a favourite with fans for its elaborate costumes and humorous dances.

James said at the time: "We have done a Halloween group number but Halloween would fall on the second week this year and we thought it would be a bit soon for a themed week.”

As part of the limits placed on the live shows there were just 12 celebrity contestants last year instead of 15.

Embargoed to 0001 Saturday November 2. Strictly Come Dancing contestant Mark Benton flies through the air in a spaceman costume during a rehearsal for his Halloween dance routine at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
'Strictly Come Dancing''s Halloween week is known for its spectacular costumes. (PA)

If a contestant or dancer tested positive for COVID they were forced to pull out of the competition.

This led to boxer Nicola Adams and her professional partner Katya Jones withdrawing after just three weeks when Jones tested positive. The couple had made history as Strictly's first same-sex pairing.

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The shows were all filmed on site at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood with no studio audience present, and the professional group numbers were filmed in advance.

Comedian Bill Bailey was crowned the winner of Strictly 2020 with dance partner Oti Mabuse.

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