One of Strictly’s unvaxxed professional dancers has ‘decided to get the jab after mounting pressure’
One of Strictly Come Dancing’s three unvaccinated professional dancers has reportedly decided to have their jab.
The anonymous pro dancer’s change of heart comes after mounting pressure from former Strictly stars and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to have the vaccination.
Speaking to The Sun, an insider revealed: ‘No-one told them they have to get jabbed but it was a decision they came to themselves and felt it was the best thing to do for everyone involved.’
U-turn: One of Strictly Come Dancing’s three unvaccinated professional dancers has reportedly decided to have their jab
The source continued: ‘The pro felt that the narrative had gotten out of control and wants to bring back the focus to the competition.
‘It was becoming a guessing game as to who had been vaxxed and who hasn’t where as the professional dancers’ main focus is the dance floor.’
The U-turn comes after there were reportedly growing concerns from the show’s cast and crew about working closely with unvaccinated dancers.
MailOnline has contacted Strictly representatives for comment.
Judgement: The anonymous pro dancer’s change of heart comes after mounting pressure from former Strictly stars and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to have the vaccination
It comes as BBC bosses are refusing to use licence-fee payers’ money to keep the identity of the Strictly Covid jab refuseniks secret.
The professionals have prompted fury among their co-stars by not having the vaccine and two have now instructed top solicitors to stop their names being made public, citing privacy laws.
BBC chiefs last night confirmed that neither the BBC nor BBC Studios, the commercial arm that makes the hit programme, will fund the legal bills. This leaves the pair to settle their own costs, which could run into thousands of pounds.
A source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It appears that these dancers are out on a limb after all. As employees of the BBC, you might expect some help when it comes to matters like this but this isn’t the case.’
The show goes on: BBC bosses are refusing to fund legal bills to keep the identity of the Strictly Covid jab refuseniks secret. Pictured: Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec
The jab row has threatened to overshadow the start of the 19th series, which began in earnest last night as the 15 celebrities and their professional partners took to the dancefloor for the first time.
Three out of the 18 professional dancers remain unvaccinated and in the run-up to the opening of the competition there was also a confirmed Covid case among the participants.
Now it has emerged that two of the dancers have instructed the Central London law firm Payne Hicks Beach to represent them, with fees costing in excess of £500 per hour.
The BBC insists it stands by the cast, saying that vaccination status is a personal choice and it is not its place to demand it be mandatory. However, some sources suggest there is ‘light pressure’ being applied by bosses to have a Covid jab.
There is also confusion as staff and stars have been told that they must abide by the two-metre rule, even though it is no longer a Government requirement. It is understood a pact has been made by celebrities and professionals not to comment publicly on the issue.
On Friday, Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec refused to divulge their own vaccination status.
Two professionals have now instructed top solicitors to stop their names being made public, citing privacy laws. Pictured: Greg Wise and Karen Hauer, left, and Adam Peaty and Katya Jones, right
When asked, Aljaz batted away the question while Ms Davies said: ‘From our point of view, we just don’t really want to talk about it.’
However, the judges appear happy to discuss the issue with Craig Revel Horwood, saying it drives him ‘nuts’ that people refuse a potentially life-saving vaccination.
Claiming not to be aware of the furore surrounding the show, he told The Times: ‘If I came into a situation, certainly when I am doing panto, for instance, I am hoping everyone has had a vaccination that I’m performing with on stage because that will make me feel safer.’
Last night defending Strictly champion Oti Mabuse took to the floor with sports pundit Ugo Monye, who had attended his father’s funeral earlier in the day. Their performance of a samba to Iko Iko (My Bestie) by Justin Wellington featuring Small Jam was dedicated to him, receiving 18 out of a possible 40.
Bake-Off star John Whaite and Johannes Radebe received a standing ovation from the studio audience for their tango to Blue Monday by New Order.
However, the judges appear happy to discuss the issue with Craig Revel Horwood (pictured), saying it drives him ‘nuts’ that people refuse a potentially life-saving vaccination
As the first all-male pairing on the show, they switched leads mid-routine and received 30 with head judge Shirley Ballas describing it as ‘exquisite.’ Olympian Adam Peaty and his partner Katya Jones also scored 30 for their Cha, Cha Cha to Beggin’ by Maneskin.
EastEnders actress Rose Ayling- Ellis also made history as the first deaf contestant to participate, scoring 22 with partner Giovanni Pernice for their jive to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.
TV presenter AJ Odudu and her partner Kai Widdrington scored 34 for their jive to Gold Dust by DJ Fresh, with judge Motsi Mabuse calling it the ‘best dance of the evening.’
Greg Wise and partner Karen Hauer also made a strong start, scoring 24 for their American Smooth to That’s Life by Frank Sinatra. The actor was cheered on by his wife, Dame Emma Thompson.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE COUPLES?
TOM FLETCHER & AMY DOWDEN
Celebrity’s Age: 36
Profession: McFly musician
Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’
Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
ROBERT WEBB & DIANNE BUSWELL
Celebrity’s Age: 48
Profession: Actor and comedian
Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’
Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title.
RHYS STEPHENSON & NANCY XU
Celebrity’s Age: 27
Profession: CBBC presenter
Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’
Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
KATIE MCGLYNN & GORKA MARQUEZ
Celebrity’s Age: 28
Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’
Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
TILLY RAMSAY & NIKITA KUZMIN
Celebrity’s Age: 19
Profession: CBBC presenter
Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’
Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.
NINA WADIA & NEIL JONES
Celebrity’s Age: 52
Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’
Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
ADAM PEATY & KATYA JONES
Celebrity’s Age: 26
Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’
Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
UGO MONYE & OTI MABUSE
Celebrity’s Age: 38
Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit
Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.
Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
AJ ODUDU & KAI WIDDRINGTON
Celebrity’s Age: 33
Profession: TV presenter
AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’
Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
JOHN WHAITE & JOHANNES RADEBE
Celebrity’s Age: 33
Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef
John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’
Fun Fact: The duo are the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.
SARA DAVIES & ALJAZ SKORJANEC
Celebrity’s Age: 37
Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’
Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.
DAN WALKER & NADIYA BYCHKOVA
Celebrity’s Age: 44
Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’
Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.
GREG WISE & KAREN HAUER
Celebrity’s Age: 55
Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’
Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.
ROSE AYLING-ELLIS & GIOVANNI PERNICE
Celebrity’s Age: 30
Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’
Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant.
JUDI LOVE & GRAZIANO DI PRIMA
Celebrity’s Age: 41
Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’
Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.