The BBC will reduce the number of Strictly Come Dancing episodes it broadcasts this year as part of its plans to get the show on air amid the coronavirus crisis.
The UK broadcaster has committed to Season 18 of the smash-hit dance competition this year, but producers at BBC Studios are working feverishly to make sure the show can shoot safely as COVID-19 continues to circulate.
A BBC spokesman said the series will be truncated to keep standards high. The show usually runs for around 14 weeks in the fall, but the BBC would not say how many episodes will be axed.
A reduction in season length may also mean that there will be fewer contestants than usual, given couples are eliminated on a weekly basis. Casting is still ongoing for the show, while the professional dancers are preparing for rehearsals next month.
A BBC spokesman said: “The Strictly Come Dancing team are doing everything they can to bring the nation plenty of Strictly magic later this year.
“To ensure we deliver the high standards audiences know and love, and in light of the ongoing considerations around COVID-19, this year’s series of Strictly will have a slightly shorter run than usual.”
The reduction in season length comes as a number of safety proposals are under consideration. One major piece of planning being done at BBC Studios is quarantining cast and crew at a hotel throughout the series.
“We are considering isolating the dancers and key production members to enable our much-loved group numbers to continue,” a spokesman said. “We’re incredibly proud of our professional dancers for their dedication to the show and their commitment to showcasing their love of dance to the nation.”
Strictly remains one of the UK’s biggest entertainment shows, capable of drawing audiences of more than 11M viewers. It is the format on which ABC’s Dancing With The Stars is based.
ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke told Deadline this month that she is confident that the show can return. “I am blown away by the ingenuity and the care which they are producing it,” she said. “We are bringing all of those innovations to the American broadcast. I’m really confident in their plan.”
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