Strictly Come Dancing is reportedly hoping to a land a ‘star of the pandemic’ for the 2021 series with Professor Chris Whitty at the top of the list.
The hit BBC One dance show is said to be making ‘discreet enquiries’ over the next few weeks in a bid to secure England’s Chief Medical Officer Whitty, 54, his deputy Jonathan Van-Tam, or vaccine tsar Kate Bingham.
It is reported that Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also lined-up as a possible contestant but his ‘hectic schedule’ ruled him out from taking part.
Strictly 2021? Strictly Come Dancing is reportedly hoping to a land a ‘star of the pandemic’ for the 2021 series with Professor Chris Whitty, pictured, at the top of the list
A collection of politicians have taken part in previous series including Ann Widdecombe in 2010, Ed Balls in 2016 and Jacqui Smith in 2020.
A source told The Sun: ‘Eighteen months ago Chris Whitty, Jonathan Van-Tam and Kate Bingham were utter unknowns. Today they’re practically household names.
‘After all the doom and gloom of Covid, it would be brilliant viewing to get one of these three out of their suits and into some sparkles. Chris is top of the list, and discreet enquiries will be made over the next few weeks.’
They added: ‘Obviously it’s all dependent on where we are on the R rate, but landing a star of the pandemic is the goal. Unfortunately it’s been made clear Matt Hancock’s hectic schedule won’t allow for a weekly waltz — so he’s been ruled out.’
Exciting: The hit BBC One dance show is said to be making ‘discreet enquiries’ over the next few weeks in a bid to secure England’s Chief Medical Officer Whitty, 54 (2020 winners Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey pictured)
Line-up? Whitty’s deputy Jonathan Van-Tam and vaccine tsar Kate Bingham (L-R) are also reportedly being lined-up for the 2021 series
MailOnline has contacted Strictly Come Dancing for comment.
Whitty has become a household name in Britain over the past year, regularly appearing at Downing Street briefings to issue updates on the pandemic.
The professor has developed something of a fan following among the public for his straight-talking, trustworthy and unflappable nature at the press conferences.
Earlier this year, a range of merchandise was released in appreciation of England’s Chief Medical Officer – from mugs to T-shirts, birthday cards and cardboard masks.
Reports: It is reported that Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also lined-up as a possible contestant but his ‘hectic schedule’ ruled him out from taking part
Politicians: A collection of politicians have taken part in previous series including Ann Widdecombe in 2010, Ed Balls in 2016 and Jacqui Smith, pictured, in 2020
Among them was a £10 mug referencing Dub Be Good to Me, saying: ‘Hands, face, space, walk jam nitty-gritty; You’re listening to advice from Professor Chris Whitty.’
There were birthday cards with his face on, with one stating: ‘The science is saying that you are one year older’ – and another: ‘If you’ve planned anything, unplan it.’
And there is a range of T-shirts and mugs with the phrase ‘next slide please’ in reference to him asking for a following graphic during the press conferences.
Deputy chief medical officer Van-Tam, who also regularly appears at the press conferences, has inspired his own range of products from T-shirts to mugs.
Household name: Whitty has become a household name in Britain over the past year, regularly appearing at Downing Street briefings to issue updates on the pandemic (pictured in July)
Among them is an £8.95 mug saying ‘J.V. Tea’ and a £33.99 hoodie with his face on, saying ‘The Prof. Jonathan Van-Tam Appreciation Society’.
The deputy chief medical officer has provided a rare ray of sunshine during this Covid crisis with his offbeat analogies.
It comes after it was reported that the BBC is planning for the 2021 series to resume its full 13-show run this autumn after the 2020 show was reduced to just nine weeks due to Covid restrictions.
It was also claimed that the much-anticipated Blackpool special will be back this year, after travel restrictions meant a trip to the seaside town last year was impossible.
A source recently told The Sun: ‘They’re going to put on a full series this year. That means 13 episodes will and all of the themed weeks. The pinnacle will be the trip to Blackpool and that’s always been the way on Strictly.
‘As things stand, the whole show will head to the North West in November. Everyone is really excited.’
Strictly’s eighteenth series faced major setbacks and was forced to go ahead with strict social distancing protocols in place.
This meant the annual Blackpool trip was scrapped, and the competition only ran for nine episodes.
However, the BBC succeeded in keeping the show on air despite a handful of COVID-19 outbreaks with Katya Jones testing positive and leaving the show early with her celebrity partner Nicola Adams.
Popstar HRVY, 22, also tested positive before the show aired, however was able to recover in time to take part.
Here come the girls! Making up the female pros are Amy Dowden, Oti Mabuse, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Dianne Buswell, Janette Manrara, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones and Nancy Xu (pictured L-R in 2020)
Last month the BBC confirmed the 16 professional dancers who will hit the dance floor this Autumn, with fan favourites such as Anton Du Beke, Johannes Radebe and Dianne Buswell all back.
Anton, 54, is to continue his reign as Strictly Come Dancing’s longest-serving professional dancer by marking his 19th season on the show.
Making up the female pros are Oti Mabuse, Janette Manrara, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova and Nancy Xu.
While Aljaž Škorjanec, Anton Du Beke, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe and Neil Jones make up the male pros.
Pros: Anton Du Beke, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Neil Jones, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice and Johannes Radebe make up the male pros (pictured L-R in 2020)