The new judge, 55, admitted that although everybody wants this year’s installment to work out, there is no guarantee.
When asked what was going on behind the scenes, Anton said: ‘In all seriousness I don’t know because I’m not a pro anymore so I’m not involved in the group.’
‘If something spreads through the group – it’s the end of the show’: Anton Du Beke waded into the Strictly controversy on GMB on Friday after a ‘third professional dancer refused the Covid vaccine’
Shock: The new judge, 55, admitted that although everybody wants this year’s installment to work out, there is no guarantee
‘Everyone’s keeping their distance and wearing masks and everything’s geared up like we’re in the grip of the pandemic,’ the former professional added.
‘It’s all taken seriously and everyone’s following government advice. If something spreads through the group then it’s the end of the show.
‘Everyone wants it to work because of all their hard work. I can’t wait for the first show.’
When asked what was going on behind the scenes, he said: ‘I don’t know because I’m not a pro anymore so I’m not involved in the group’
Controversial: His former dance partner Kate Garraway pressed Anton on rumours that three choreographers had refused their vaccine
Anton went on to make a jibe at this year’s contestants, who he said did a ‘terrible’ job during their first group dance last Saturday.
‘As usual the group dance was terrible. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to produce. It can’t get any worse than that group dance.’
It follows a recent claim that a third star, who has already been paired with a celebrity and it is well-known among the cast, refused the jab, sparking resentment behind the scenes.
Assuring: ‘Everyone’s keeping their distanced and wearing masks and everything’s geared up like we’re in the grip of the pandemic,’ the former professional added
Hilarious: Anton went on to make a jibe at this year’s contestants, who he said did a ‘terrible’ job during their first group dance last Saturday
Oh no! ‘As usual the group dance was terrible. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to produce. It can’t get any worse than that group dance’ (pictured last Saturday)
The reports came just days after it was claimed that two professional dancers had refused the Covid vaccine, sparking fears from bosses the show could be hit by another outbreak.
The pro, who has not been named, does not have to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated to BBC bosses, because it is a private medical matter.
A source told The Sun: ‘Producers are dreading an outbreak of Covid on the new series, which is a crucial part of the autumn schedule.
‘They are taking every possible precaution to make the set as safe as possible, particularly as the studio audience is returning.’
Drama: Strictly has reportedly seen a third professional dancer refuse the Covid vaccination (Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse are pictured)
Scare: Sources claim the star has already been paired with a celebrity and it is well-known among the cast that they have refused the jab (Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez pictured)
A Strictly spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We do not comment on speculation of somebody’s COVID vaccination status.
‘Strictly Come Dancing production has, and will, continue to follow strict government guidelines to ensure the safety of all on the show.’
This year’s Strictly has once again seen stars and their professional dancers required to adhere to strict Covid safety measures, including being tested multiple times a week, and forming bubbles to perform and train safely.
Saturday’s launch show, which was recorded earlier this month, saw this year’s celebrity contestants discover their professional partners, with the 15 couples set to perform in the first live show this weekend.
Worries: On Saturday it was reported that two of the show’s professional dancers had refused to get Covid jabs (Giovanni is pictured getting a Covid test)
On Saturday it was reported that two of the show’s professional dancers had refused to get Covid jabs, ahead of the launch show being broadcast.
The identity of the dancers was not revealed and BBC bosses were said to be fearful that there could be a larger outbreak among those participating in the show.
They added: ‘Strictly already has to jump through hoops just to be able to broadcast. The dancers who won’t get vaccinated have been a topic of conversation among cast and crew for weeks — even before the positive test.
‘There were vocal protests from celebrities that they didn’t want to be paired with them. It’s a headache for bosses but employers cannot force workers to get jabbed.’
Reacting, ex-Strictly contestant Dr Ranj Singh said: ‘I think, you know vaccination is not mandatory, it’s an offer, and I think we should all be playing our part and doing whatever we can to try and keep everybody safe. Not just ourselves but those around us.
‘There may be legitimate reasons for those people to not be able to have the jab and we’ve got to understand that, but I think we’ve all got a part to play to be as safe as possible.
‘And that’s not just about vaccination, that’s about being careful around hand hygiene, trying to distance, wear a mask in enclosed spaces, and all those other things that we should be doing well.’
Worries: The identity of the dancers was not revealed and BBC bosses were said to be fearful that there could be a larger outbreak among those participating in the show
It came just three days after it emerged that one professional dancer has tested positive for Covid-19. The unidentified dancer was forced to isolate for ten days, but their celebrity partner tested negative.
Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse told Good Morning Britain in response to the news of the positive test that ‘it is still a pandemic, we cannot ignore the fact as much as we want our lives back.’
She added: ‘We will all be there and we will all be healthy and all keep on dancing – that’s what I can say.’
Speaking of the two dancers’ refusal to get vaccinated, the source added to The Sun: ‘There were vocal protests from celebrities that they didn’t want to be paired with them.’
As part of the measures in place to lessen the risk posed by the virus, dancers are tested multiple times a week.
Judge Motsi said on Friday: ‘There are still issues here and the BBC is doing the upmost to keep everybody safe.
‘We are being tested and we are trying to isolate as much as we can, but things can happen and we should be able to go through that, and everyone should be responsible and take care of themselves.
‘But we can’t plan these things so we just have to react, and hope that everybody stays healthy.’
Show bosses are reportedly still enforcing Covid-19 bubbles for its professional dancers, despite lockdown restrictions easing.
Wanting to minimise all potential risks, Strictly bosses have requested the show’s dancers all stay at a London hotel in ‘bubbles’, according to The Sun.
Such bubbles were put into practice for last year’s Strictly series amid lockdown, while the show’s professionals have been busy pre-recording group dances ahead of this year’s launch.
As well as forming bubbles ahead of the series, the professional dancers filmed most of their group routines in advance and only a limited number of guests will be allowed in the studio audience.
Fans, along with friends and family of the celebrity contestants, will be allowed back into Elstree studios to watch the live shows, but only in small numbers.
Last year, Strictly bosses brought bubbles and close contact cohorts into play in order to ensure the safety of the contestants, dancers and crew during filming.
Each dancing couple formed an exclusive support bubble – meaning one half of the bubble was a single adult household living alone and the other could remain with their household, allowing them to have close contact with one another.
Concerns: It came just three days after it emerged that one professional dancer has tested positive for Covid-19 (Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are pictured)
Close contact cohorts were also introduced and work similarly to support bubbles, but included regular and routine testing for coronavirus. Each couple was put into a close contact cohort and could not form a cohort with anyone else during the competition.
Despite the measures in place, Covid still wreaked havoc with the series, as same-sex couple Katya Jones and Nicola Adams were forced to leave the competition, after Katya tested positive for the virus.
The series was won by Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse, with EastEnders star Maisie Smith, singer HRVY and Jamie Laing all finishing as runners-up.
Producers have also reportedly put a kissing ban on contestants in a bid to stop Covid causing havoc again for the new series.
Producers are said to have told this year’s stars ‘one snog and you’re out’ after last series celebs Maisie Smith and HRVY allegedly broke social distancing rules because of a brief romance.
An insider told The Sun: ‘Although the pandemic has eased since last year’s series, the BBC aren’t taking any chances.
‘This kissing ban is likely to be part of a package of measures introduced by producers to make the show as safe as possible.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE COUPLES?
TOM FLETCHER & AMY DOWDEN
Celebrity’s Age: 36
Profession: McFly musician
Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’
Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
ROBERT WEBB & DIANNE BUSWELL
Celebrity’s Age: 48
Profession: Actor and comedian
Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’
Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title.
RHYS STEPHENSON & NANCY XU
Celebrity’s Age: 27
Profession: CBBC presenter
Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’
Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
KATIE MCGLYNN & GORKA MARQUEZ
Celebrity’s Age: 28
Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’
Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
TILLY RAMSAY & NIKITA KUZMIN
Celebrity’s Age: 19
Profession: CBBC presenter
Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’
Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.
NINA WADIA & NEIL JONES
Celebrity’s Age: 52
Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’
Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
ADAM PEATY & KATYA JONES
Celebrity’s Age: 26
Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’
Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
UGO MONYE & OTI MABUSE
Celebrity’s Age: 38
Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit
Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.
Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
AJ ODUDU & KAI WIDDRINGTON
Celebrity’s Age: 33
Profession: TV presenter
AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’
Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
JOHN WHAITE & JOHANNES RADEBE
Celebrity’s Age: 33
Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef
John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’
Fun Fact: The duo are the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.
SARA DAVIES & ALJAZ SKORJANEC
Celebrity’s Age: 37
Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’
Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.
DAN WALKER & NADIYA BYCHKOVA
Celebrity’s Age: 44
Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’
Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.
GREG WISE & KAREN HAUER
Celebrity’s Age: 55
Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’
Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.
ROSE AYLING-ELLIS & GIOVANNI PERNICE
Celebrity’s Age: 30
Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’
Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant.
JUDI LOVE & GRAZIANO DI PRIMA
Celebrity’s Age: 41
Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’
Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.