Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has teased details about this year’s celebrity line-up for the popular BBC One series.
Ballroom expert and choreographer Ballas, 60, returns to the judging panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Strictly professional dancer-turned-judge Anton Du Beke.
This year’s celebrity contestants have not yet been officially announced, but Ballas told ITV’s Loose Women that “of all panels, you have never seen such celebrities as you are going to see on this particular show”.
She praised Strictly’s executive producer, Sarah James, saying that “she just delights every time, she tweaks here, she tweaks there, she’s outside the box. She is bringing a show… just when you think it couldn’t get any better, it does”.
Last year’s series was filmed without a studio audience due to coronavirus restrictions, but Ballas said she was hopeful an audience could return this year.
The 2021 series will also miss out on the usual trip to Blackpool for an episode live from the famous Tower Ballroom.
Ballas explained: “We’re hoping that there will be an audience, there will be no Blackpool due to the fact that backstage there is not enough changing facilities with good social distancing.
“But we will still have everything at Elstree and I’m sure she’s (Sarah James) got lots of other little delights up her sleeve…”
James has previously said: “We are 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 some of the much-loved specials.
“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.”
Viewers will also see four new professional dancers join the show.
They are Dancing With The Stars Ireland’s Kai Widdrington, former Let’s Dance Germany professional Nikita Kuzmin, reigning South African Latin champion Cameron Lombard and winner of The Greatest Dancer Jowita Przystal.
The BBC announced in June that Bruno Tonioli, who is also a judge on American series Dancing With The Stars, will miss this year’s UK shows due to “uncertainty over international travel restrictions” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The series will reportedly also feature an all-male partnership this year, with The Sun suggesting comedian Alan Carr and Olympic diving gold medallist Tom Daley are among the names approached.
Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams made history as part of Strictly’s first same-sex dance pairing alongside professional Katya Jones last year.
But their journey was cut short when Jones received a positive Covid-19 test result, forcing them to withdraw from the competition early.