RTS Midlands celebrated the runaway success of Strictly Come Dancing with a masterclass held in partnership with BBC Birmingham at the end of January.
Head judge Shirley Ballas, dancer Giovanni Pernice and his celebrity partner from the 2018 series, Faye Tozer, joined the new executive producer, Sarah James and her predecessor, Louise Rainbow, to discuss the work that goes into producing the hit BBC One show.
Rainbow, who has been Strictly’s executive producer for the past six years, explained that pre-production begins in January, when discussions start on securing celebrities before the show’s launch the following September.
BBC Studios, which makes Strictly, is constantly tweaking the show. “This year we made a choice to target young people and were very proud that we achieved a 6% increase in viewing by children and an 8% increase in 16-34 year-olds,” said Rainbow.
The 2019 edition – the 17th series – will be overseen by the experienced James, a former Strictly series editor and producer.
Former professional ballroom dancer Ballas, who replaced Len Goodman as head judge in 2017, praised the production team for their support, adding that she felt “ecstatic” to be working on the show.
Tozer – once a member of pop group Steps – and Pernice finished as runners up last year and were taking time out from the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour to speak at the RTS Midlands event. “She is just a friend – I am teaching her to dance,” said Pernice, an Italian choreographer who has danced on Strictly since 2015.
“Strictly Come Dancing: the masterclass” was held at The Mailbox, Birmingham and attracted a capacity crowd of 100 guests – it was standing room only at the back of the room – from the BBC and local universities, as well as RTS members.