Dianne Buswell says 'Strictly Come Dancing' rehearsals "start really shortly".
After it was revealed earlier this week that fans of the BBC One celebrity dance contest will get their "full fix" of the show this year - but no Blackpool - the professional dancer has revealed they are due to put their dancing shoes back on again very soon.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Dianne said: "Pro rehearsals will start really shortly. I’m so excited about that, to get the dance shoes back on and to dance again is like, oh my God a dream come true.
"I can’t wait for that. This last period before it starts up goes so slowly. I’m counting down the hours and minutes!"
The BBC Latin and ballroom show aired in a reduced form in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and didn't hit screens until October, but the celebrity competition will be back with its usual early autumn date and popular themes including movie, musicals and Halloween weeks will be back after COVID-19 restrictions meant they were impossible to pull off last year because of safety measures around hair and make-up.
And while only 12 couples competed last year, there will be a full quota of 15 for the new series, and producers hope it will all take place in front of a full live audience.
Executive producer Sarah James said: “We’re 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 much-loved specials.”
However, the action will all take place in the studio this year.
Sarah confirmed: "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.”
Insiders explained an early decision had to be made on the special episode, which traditionally comes towards the end of the series, but decided not to risk transporting the cast and crew to Blackpool.
A source said: “Production had to make an early call on it and sadly couldn’t make it work due to the advanced planning and logistics required plus the uncertainty over the ever-changing Covid protocols.”
Various measures will stay in place, including isolating the professional dancers together in a hotel near the studio for weeks before the show starts in order to pre-record the group numbers.
And there will be just a week between the show revealing which celebrity contestants have been paired with which dancer and the start of the competition.
Comic Bill Bailey won the Glitterball Trophy last year with Oti Mabuse, who also danced her way to victory with Kelvin Fletcher in 2019.
tagged in Anton Du Beke