Britain’s vaccine tsar has said that celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing should not be made to dance with unvaccinated professionals.
Three professional dancers have reportedly refused to have the jab, causing disquiet on the set. The BBC did not inform their celebrity partners as it regards vaccine status as private medical information.
The celebrities learned the news only days before the BBC One television dance show is about to start.
Dame Kate Bingham, who headed the UK’s vaccine taskforce, said they should be offered a choice whether the wished to continue dancing with an unvaccinated partner.
However, she added that the show’s producers should not force the dancers to have the vaccine.
“It’s very hard to force things on people. It’s not the best way to get people to agree to do things,” Dame Kate told Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
“It’s slightly different with care home workers, because in those cases [they] have chosen that profession and they are working with elderly, vulnerable, frail people who are highly at risk. In those cases, I feel much more strongly that, yes, vaccines should be mandated.
“I think for fit, healthy dancers, it’s harder. But I think their dancing partners and the people around them should have a choice as to whether or not they would like to dance with somebody who has not been vaccinated.”
Dame Kate said she did not know anyone in her professional or personal life who was unvaccinated. However, she conceded: “It may be that people are too scared to tell me.”
The Prime Minister has also weighed in on the Strictly jab row, saying on Wednesday that the professional dancers “should go and get a jab”.
BBC standing firm
However, the BBC is standing firm and said no dancers were being replaced. The corporation denied reports that at least one of the celebrities was furious about the situation.
A spokesman said: “A lot has been written about vaccinations and Strictly in recent days. The BBC has never commented nor confirmed the vaccination status of any one on the show. It’s not our place to.
“It is not the case that concerns have been raised with the BBC or the Strictly production team from dancers or celebrities about vaccination, or that they have threatened to quit.
“We have in place strict procedures to protect those on the show and the wider production. Among the many measures in place on Strictly, the dancers are tested regularly to be in close contact with their partners.
“The cast, crew and everyone working on Strictly are focused on this weekend’s first live show and delivering another brilliant series.”