'Strictly' brings Blackpool to Elstree as COVID cancels Tower Ballroom trip

The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 Professional Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: screen grab
The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 Professional Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: screen grab

Strictly Come Dancing may have missed out on its annual Blackpool jaunt, but it brought the Tower Ballroom to Elstree in a special theme week.

It’s usually a highlight of the BBC series that the contest goes on location to Blackpool with celebrities getting the chance to dance at the world-famous Tower Ballroom, but with the production sticking to tight bubbles, it was off the cards this year.

Read more: Bill Bailey can’t believe his Strictly success

However, the Class of 2020 didn’t miss out on their seaside trip altogether as Saturday night’s live episode took inspiration from Blackpool for its week five routines.

The show opened with a summer holiday-themed routine from the professionals, paying tribute to Blackpool’s pier and seafront.

Dancer Oti Mabuse offered a fascinating insight into how long she and the other pros have known each other as she talked about her memories of Blackpool, competing against Aljaz Skorjanec, Katya Jones, Nadiya Bychkova and Luba Mushtuk when they were children.

She said: “We all love Blackpool and we all miss it.”

Head judge Shirley Ballas teared up a little as she critiqued the first routine from Bill Bailey, saying it was 53 years since she had first danced at the Tower Ballroom.

Despite having to socially distance from the other contestants and the show missing its usual packed audience, the couples did their best to bring the spirit of Blackpool to the Elstree studio.

As is traditional in Blackpool week, there was plenty of party atmosphere with a Salsa from Maisie Smith, a Samba from Clara Amfo, and a Cha Cha from Caroline Quentin.

There was also an elegant American Smooth from Bill Bailey and a steamy Argentine Tango from Ranvir Singh.

But the routine of the evening was Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer’s hugely entertaining couple’s choice street dance, with the Made in Chelsea star poking fun at himself by labelling it “Straight outta West Brompton”.

Once again, Anton Du Beke was covering Motsi Mabuse’s judging desk as she self-isolates following a trip to Germany.

Strictly Come Dancing returns for the results show tomorrow night at 7.25pm on BBC One.