Strictly Come Dancing confirms pros Neil Jones, Graziano Di Prima, Nadiya Bychkova and Nancy Xu won’t have celeb partners for 2020 series
Strictly Come Dancing professionals Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Graziano Di Prima and Nancy Xu are without celebrity partners for this year’s series, which debuts on the BBC next month,
The BBC show’s executive producer Sarah James has confirmed the quartet have not been assigned a celeb contestant for the main show this year, as there are only 12 pairings rather than 15.
The reduced pairings are due to to a cut-down run for the 2020 series, with just nine live shows instead of the usual 12, after the series start date was postponed by a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Axed: Strictly Come Dancing professionals Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones (left), Graziano Di Prima (right) and Nancy Xu are without celebrity partners for this year’s series
Nadiya, Neil, Graziano and Nancy will still take part in this year’s series, joining their fellow pros in the group dances and when musical acts perform.
Sarah explained: ‘We have four professional dancers who won’t be partnering celebrities this year – they are Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Graziano di Prima and Nancy Xu.’
‘So we have two males and two females who perform CCCs [close contact cohorts] together and they’ll be able to dance in the guest music acts.’
The dancers and celebrities on this year’s series will be in a close contact cohort. A BBC document recently confirmed a CCC on a TV production is ‘as small a number of people as possible who unavoidably need to be in close contact with each other’.
Demoted: The show’s executive producer has confirmed the quartet have not been assigned a celeb contestant for the main show this year, as there are only 12 pairings rather than 15
‘The way we’re doing that is by doing two different things – we’re using close contact cohort, which is an industry workplace guideline, and also bubbles,’ explained Sarah.
‘Close contact cohorts apply to people who need to work more closely together and break social distancing in order to do their job.
‘To be in a CCC you have to be with just one person and you are regularly tested to be in a CCC.
Devastated: Reports Neil was without a celeb partner this year first circulated a week ago, with the pro said to be ‘devastated’ by the decision especially after he finished fifth with Alex Scott in 2019 (pictured)
‘On top of that we are also asking our celebrities and dancers to be part of an exclusive support bubble, which means that one half of the party has to live alone. So either the dancer or the celebrity will be living alone in order to form the exclusive support bubble.’
Last year, Neil was partnered with former England footballer Alex Scott and Nadiya danced with ex-England goalkeeper David James.
Graziano didn’t have a partner, and neither did Nancy, who had just joined the pro dancer cast.
Sarah has also confirmed celeb contestants will be axed from this year’s series if they test positive for coronavirus.
Solo go: Graziano has only been partnered once with a celebrity – radio DJ Vick Hope in the 2018 series
On the dancefloor: Nadiya danced with ex-England goalkeeper David James
Other elements of the flagship BBC show to face the chopping block include the Halloween-themed week and the usual mingling after a dance between pros, celebrities and host Claudia Winkleman.
Reports Neil was without a celeb partner this year first circulated a week ago, with the pro said to be ‘devastated’ by the decision especially after he finished fifth with Alex Scott in 2019.
Neil was part of Strictly’s ensemble of pro dancers for three years before he finally got to be part of the competition last year when he was paired with Alex, 35.
It comes as his ex Katya Jones, 31, is tipped to be part of the show’s first same-sex couple with Nicola Adams, 37.
Strictly Come Dancing Contestants 2020
Profession: Actress, known for roles in Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek
Caroline says: ‘I hope my knees don’t let me down and I hope the foundation garments live up to expectations when I start leaping about!’
Fun fact: She met her now-husband, Sam Farmer in 1998 on the set of Men Behaving Badly when he was one of the studio runners.
Profession: Singer – from former boy band The Wanted
Max says: ‘Nan – I’m doing Strictly this year!’ as he vowed to make his superfan grandmother proud
Fun Fact: Max’s fellow The Wanted bandmate Jay McGuiness was on Strictlby Come Dancing in 2015 – and won it!
Profession: Radio 1 presenter
Clara says: ‘As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy’
Fun fact: Clara has some experience of celeb gameshows, having taken part on Celebrity Masterchef in 2018
Profession: Comedian and TV personality
Clara says: ‘I’m not Lord of the Dance, more a sort of caretaker of the dance’
Fun fact: Bill is a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist
Profession: EastEnders actress
Maisie says: ‘Get me in those sequins, I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter!’
Fun fact: Maisie won the 2019 Children In Need special of Strictly with Kevin Clifton
Profession: YouTube star
HRVY says: ‘Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year.’
Fun fact: HRVY follows in the footsteps of former internet star contestants Joe Sugg and Saffron Barker – the latter of whom is close friends with him
Profession: Retired American Football player – now a pundit
Jason says: ‘I am thrilled. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve been watching it since I came to this country, so it’s time for me to do something cool to impress my daughter, now that she can watch me perform!’
Fun Fact: Jason is the father of Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle’s daughter. The couple were together for 11 years, only splitting recently in 2019
Profession: ITV broadcaster, Political Editor for GMB
Ranvir says: ‘It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster… Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!’
Fun fact: Ranvir is the fourth GMB star to star following Susanna Reid, Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins.
Profession: Double Olympic gold medallist boxer
Nicola says: ‘I’m a huge fan of the show and am thrilled to be part of something that holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts’
Fun fact: Nicola will form the show’s first ever same-sex pairing as she is parterned with a female professional.
Profession: Ex Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist
JJ says: ‘Strictly is a whole different ball game in respect to the challenges I will face but I’m up for an adventure’
Fun fact: JJ is close friends with Prince Harry after they worked together on the Invictus Games
Profession: Made In Chelsea star
Jamie says: ‘I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing!’
Fun fact: Jamie was forced to pull out of the 2019 series of Strictly after a foot injury
RT HON JACQUI SMITH
Jacqui says: ‘I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly – and that’s very rare for me…!’
Fun fact: Fifty years ago, she received a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing