The return of Strictly Come Dancing was even more welcome than usual this year, providing a source of much-needed glitter in uncertain times.
But series 18 was only able to go ahead during the coronavirus pandemic because of substantial changes made to the way the show is produced, such as pre-recording all of the group routines earlier in the year after the pro dancers isolated together at a hotel to form a single household.
Perhaps the biggest change, though, has been the need for each couple in the competition to form a ‘support bubble’, where one of them must live alone so that the other can remain with their family.
For married professionals and show favorites Janette Manrara and Aljaz Škorjanec – who are partnering singer HRVY and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo respectively – this means living apart for the entirety of this year’s contest.
Here, in an exclusive interview, Janette, who turns 37 on 16 November, and Aljaz, 30, tell TV Times more about the big changes this year, and how they’re keeping in touch while apart...
It’s lovely to have Strictly back on our screens, but was there ever a time when you thought this series might not happen?
JANETTE: I didn’t want to think about that! I missed dancing so much – not being able to be on stage in theatres and touring across the UK, which is what I normally do. I was crossing all my fingers and not even thinking that Strictly wasn’t going to come back!
ALJAZ: I think every single person in the country needs Strictly, just to have some sparkle and some happiness on a Saturday night. We were all chuffed when we found out it was going ahead – probably more than ever, to be honest!
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