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BBC ‘looking very carefully’ at airing Strictly in autumn

Kate Phillips hinted the show might go ahead without a studio audience.

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Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/PA)

BBC entertainment boss Kate Phillips has said the broadcaster was “looking very carefully” at airing Strictly Come Dancing in the autumn.

The flagship BBC One show is due to return in September for its 18th series, after Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse lifted the Glitterball trophy last year.

Ms Phillips, controller of BBC entertainment, hinted the show might go ahead without a studio audience.

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BBC handout photo of Kelvin Fletcher with Oti Mabuse after the actor won the Glitterball trophy during the live Strictly Come Dancing Final in 2019 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

BBC handout photo of Kelvin Fletcher with Oti Mabuse after the actor won the Glitterball trophy during the live Strictly Come Dancing Final in 2019 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

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BBC handout photo of Kelvin Fletcher with Oti Mabuse after the actor won the Glitterball trophy during the live Strictly Come Dancing Final in 2019 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

She spoke during an online session held by the Edinburgh TV Festival as part of its The Controller series, which saw her joined by controller of BBC drama Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore, director of content at the corporation.

She said: “We are absolutely looking very carefully at Strictly and how we could do Strictly this autumn.

“That is absolutely one of our big priorities, making sure we can bring you a great Strictly. But I think inevitably things are going to change.”

She added: “The other thing I would say is, if it is shiny floor (light entertainment) it needs an audience, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

“When you look at something like Drag Race, which is a big shiny floor talent competition with all sorts of catwalks, singing, dancing, impressions – it never has an audience.

“The audience is the four judges and I don’t think it suffers from that at all. I think it is a brilliant show.”

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The stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Isabel Infantes/PA)

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The stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Ms Moore said every genre of programme had been affected by the lockdown.

She said: “Obviously, there were things that were in the middle of filming that were not going to be playable until the following autumn.

“But that was just as catastrophic for us as the ones which were coming up next week that we couldn’t get the crews for.

“I would say, actually, every genre has been affected.”

The end of the free TV licence for all over-75s has been delayed until August because of the pandemic.

Asked whether this had impacted the BBC’s content budget, she said: “I’m afraid none of us in the country are not going to have to deal with some financial consequences from all of this.

“So yes, I have absolutely no doubt we will all be affected.

“Where that quite lands all depends on where we get back into production.

“I think that’s one of the hardest things because there is so much uncertainty.

“We are trying to work with the budgets we have got, but not really knowing where we will end up and how much money we will have spent this year, and how much money we will have for next year.

“But yes, we are not going to be immune from financial constraints, I’m afraid.”

Wenger spoke about the impact of coronavirus on BBC drama programming, saying “most of the slate that was for the end of the year and next year has been impacted by the production stand-down”.

He said: “I guess with some shows we managed to just get to the end of the shoot and now the challenge is how we do post-production to get them on air.”

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