Strictly Come Dancing has been disrupted by Covid-19 just one week into the new series, with a couple set to miss the next live show after testing positive for the virus.
Musician Tom Fletcher and his professional partner Amy Dowden, who together earned a score of 21 for their Cha Cha during Strictly’s opening show on Saturday, have been forced to self-isolate.
The pair tested positive for Covid-19, the BBC has announced, and will miss next week’s live show after managing just one dance without disruption.
The announcement follows recent controversy surrounding Strictly sparked by reports that some professional dancers on the show have refused to be vaccinated.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently weighed in on the issue and urged dancers, who are subject to a strict regime of testing, to be jabbed.
The BBC has refused to comment on the vaccination status of those taking part in this year’s series of Strictly, and it is not known whether Fletcher and Dowden have been vaccinated or not.
It is still possible for those who have been double-jabbed to get Covid-19 if they are exposed to the virus.
‘They will return the following week’
A statement from the BBC said that Fletcher and Dowden “are now self-isolating separately following the latest government guidelines”.
It added: “While they will both miss Saturday’s live show, Strictly Come Dancing protocols mean that all being well, they will return the following week.”
The announcement was made on Sunday just hours after McFly frontman Fletcher said he was pulling out of a gig in Glasgow due to feeling “unwell”.
Fletcher had successfully performed a Cha Cha to September by Earth, Wind and Fire on Saturday evening during the first live show of the new Strictly series, in which no couples are voted off.
He and Downden will miss the first truly competitive show next weekend, when the public are able to vote off one of the bottom two couples on the leaderboard. It is not clear how their points score will be calculated.
Safety concerns had reportedly been raised among the cohort of competitors this year after two professionals were alleged to have refused the Covid-19 vaccine, sparking fears that an outbreak could halt the show and undermine the rigorous health protocols in place.
Contestants are required to isolate in a Covid bubble in a hotel near the Strictly studio and submit to a regime of frequent testing.
It was reported that prior to pairings being announced, celebrities had protested against the allegedly unvaccinated dancers and refused to be coupled with them.
The BBC denied that there were any safety fears among those taking part, stating that: “It is not the case that concerns have been raised with the BBC or the Strictly production team from dancers or celebrities about vaccination, or that they have threatened to quit.
“We have in place strict procedures to protect those on the show and the wider production. Among the many measures in place on Strictly, the dancers are tested regularly to be in close contact with their partners.
The statement added that: “A lot has been written about vaccinations and Strictly in recent days. The BBC has never commented nor confirmed the vaccination status of anyone on the show. It’s not our place to.”
‘Everyone is free to do whatever they want’
Professional dancer Gorka Márquez has commented on the alleged row among Strictly stars, saying in regard to being jabbed that “everyone is free to do whatever they want”.
He added on Lorraine that: “You go in the streets right now and some people might be vaccinated and some people might not.”
The Spanish dancer explained that the BBC had introduced: “Lots of testing, lots of trying to keep everyone distanced and safe [while in] the studio.”
Representatives of Fletcher and Downden have been contacted for comment.