Strictly Come Dancing is returning to screens this weekend as a host of celebrity prepare to tango, waltz and foxtrot their way to the final.
The BBC hit show will kick off on Saturday, September 18 at 7.45pm with a pre-recorded launch show – and this year’s series looks more dazzling than ever.
Featuring one of the strongest line-ups in the show’s history, it’s bound to add some joy and sparkle to evening telly as we enter autumn.
Last year’s show was scaled down and shorter due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still some restrictions and rules in place for the 2021 series.
Here’s all the rules for Strictly come Dancing 2021…
1. Live audience
Hurray! A live audience will be allowed back in the studio for this year’s series.
BBC bosses were keen to have fans and family members back to watch the magic happen.
Last year, the show implemented a number of restrictions and changes to its usual run, including a much smaller studio audience – and sometimes none at all.
As with previous years, members of the public applied to be a part of the ballot which generates a random draw of lucky applicants who will get to watch the live shows.
Last year, dancers were tested twice a week as extensive protocols were put in place to protect the crew and celebs.
Each pair formed a ‘household bubble’ – with some even having to temporarily move out of their family homes for the duration of the show.
Sadly, this is not a thing of the past, and dance duos will still form bubbles and will be tested for coronavirus weekly.
Claudia Winkleman will also interview the dancing stars at socially distanced tables instead of at the top of the stairs.
3. Dancers won’t pull out if they test positive
If a dancer tests positive, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will have to bow out the competition.
Last year, Nicola Adams and Katya Jones were forced to leave Strictly Come Dancing after receiving a positive test result for Covid.
But in a new development for the 2021 series, the isolation period has been reduced from 14 days to 10 – so they only have to miss one episode.
Executive producer Sarah James explained: “If a celebrity does receive a positive test, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are out of the competition.
“It might mean they could miss a week and still get enough training in to return.”
4. Halloween week is back
The fan favourite Halloween extravaganza is back.
Last year’s short run meant the spooky night was axed as producers decided it would have fallen too early in the series to introduce a themed week.
With the 2021 series sticking to the usual time frame, Halloween is back on the agenda.
5. No more Blackpool
Sadly there will still be no more Blackpool this year.
The mid-series trip to the Blackpool Tower is off the cards – because it is too small.
All the dressing rooms are reportedly tiny so ensuring the dancers and crew are social distanced would be a huge issue.
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6. Anton Du Beke has new role
Professional dancer Anton Du Beke will waltz onto the Strictly Come Dancing panel as a full-time judge this year.
Bruno Tonioli, 65, was unable to take part due to uncertainty over international travel restrictions as a result of Covid-19.
The pro dancer will swap the dancefloor for the judging panel as a permanent fixture during the 2021 series.
7. Fresh faces
A host of professional dancers have left the show in recent years, including Kevin Clifton and AJ Pritchard.
Make way for some new faces, including Kai Widdrington, Nikita Kuzmin, Cameron Lombard and Jowita Przystal.
They’’ll be appearing alongside old favourites inlcuding Giovanni Pernice, Dianne Buswell, Gorka Marquez, Oti Mabuse, Neil Jones and Katya Jones.
8. First male same-sex couple
This year’s line-up includes the show’s first male same-sex couple.
It comes after Katya Jones and Nicola Adams were the first female couple before having to pull out last year.
Great British Bake Off’s John Whaite will be paired up with one of the male dancers and has described his partnership as “a great step forward in representation and inclusion.”
9. First ever deaf contestant
EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the series first ever deaf contestant.
The actress has a hearing aid and told the BBC she can “pick up some of the music” and “hear the beat”.
She says she will also pick up on vibrations and will focus on reading her partner’s body movements as she keeps time in her head.
The show’s crew will also be learning sign language for her.
10. Host of new celebrities
This year’s competition may have the most star-studded line-up to date.
Here’s who will be starring in Strictly Come Dancing 2021:
Strictly Come Dancing return on Saturday 18 September at 7.45pm on BBC One.