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BBC denies stars or dancers have threatened to quit Strictly amid jab row

·4-min read

The BBC has said it is “not the case” that dancers or celebrity contestants have threatened to quit Strictly Come Dancing over the vaccination row, or raised concerns with the BBC or the show’s production team.

The show has been embroiled in controversy over recent days, amid continuing reports that three of the professional dancers are unvaccinated.

A statement from the corporation said: “A lot has been written about vaccinations and Strictly in recent days.

“The BBC has never commented nor confirmed the vaccination status of anyone 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.”

The broadcast will go ahead as planned on Saturday night following reports in The Sun that three of the professional dancers have not been vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already waded into the row, urging them to get the jab.

Contestant Tilly Ramsay will perform a waltz with professional partner Nikita Kuzmin when the live shows return on Saturday night.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, she was asked if she feels safe on set and if Strictly is “strict” about protocols.

She replied: “It definitely is.

“Firstly, I think it’s just amazing that they’ve been able to even put the show on.

“They’re working so hard to keep everyone safe.

“And I think we definitely do feel that.”

Professional dancer Gorka Marquez told ITV’s This Morning that the reports were “just speculation”.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Gorka Marquez and Katie McGlynn (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

He added: “What I know is the show is taking big responsibility to keep everyone safe, lots of testing, lots of trying to keep everyone distance and safe during the studio.

“They did it last year, we were all safe so this year are they doing the same and it will work because we did it last year.”

Asked if he would prefer a vaccinated environment, he replied: “Everyone is free to do whatever they want.

“You go in the streets right now and some people might be vaccinated and some people might not.”

His celebrity partner, soap star Katie McGlynn, added: “I think it just depends on each individual, because like I know last year, you were in couples and everybody was in a hotel whereas you get a bit more freedom this year because of the vaccinations. But if that was me, personally, I just wouldn’t see my family.”

Speaking to reporters in Washington DC on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said he would urge dancers to get the Covid jab.

He said: “I think that that’s a matter for the producers but I strongly believe that people should get vaccinated.

“I don’t want to bully people or to lecture them but, well I don’t mind lecturing them, I’ll lecture them: I think it is a great thing to do for yourself, your family, your community.

“I think people should get a jab and it is a wonderful thing to do.”

The BBC has said it is following all Government guidelines to ensure the show can be made safely.

The first live show will see Great British Bake Off star John Whaite and professional Johannes Radebe, the first male pairing in the show’s history, perform a tango to Blue Monday by New Order.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
John Whaite and Johannes Radebe (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

Ramsay and Kuzmin will dance a waltz to Consequences by Camila Cabello, while McGlynn and Marquez will do a tango to Black Hole by Griff.

Actor Greg Wise and partner Karen Hauer will do an American Smooth to That’s Life by Frank Sinatra, while McFly’s Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden will tackle a cha-cha to September by Earth, Wind and Fire.

The first live show will air on BBC One at 7pm on Saturday September 25.

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