HOTELIERS, ballroom dancers and fans of Strictly Come Dancing have made an impassioned plea for the hit show to waltz back up to Blackpool.
It comes after BBC bosses announced the prime-time Saturday night show would not be filmed from the famous Tower Ballroom this year.
And the news, which The Gazette exclusively revealed yesterday, has come as a huge disappointment to ballroom fans.
John Baxter, 64, from Bispham, who goes to The Tower Ballroom twice a week, said: “It’s so sad. Dancing in the ballroom is magnificent for the contestants.
“It will have an affect on the resort – the hoteliers and businesses will lose out.
“It’s all down to cost, the cost of bringing all the equipment up.”
Many hoteliers have benefited from the contestants, fans and presenters staying on the Fylde coast during filming – with Sir Bruce Forsyth booking in at The Grand Hotel in St Annes a couple of times.
Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool, added: “It’s a real shame. It’s a loss we aren’t having the event because it was held in a weekend in December which was really good for out of season business. It brought a lot of good publicity for the town.
“The BBC has said it’s not saying it’ll never come back.
“It’s not because Blackpool has done anything wrong, it’s just because of logistics so hopefully it’ll return to Blackpool again soon.”
Strictly Come Dancing – hosted by Sir Bruce and Tess Daly – has attracted huge audience figures since being launched in 2004.
Blackpool hosted the glittering final that year but was dealt a devastating blow when the show was not held in resort for the second year running. A Gazette campaign to see its return galvanised huge support and Strictly finally shimmied back up north in 2009.
Despite the resort being crowned the mecca of dance, television execs say re-locating to The Tower is a “mammoth logistical exercise”. It is expected the new series will be filmed entirely in a London studio.
A BBC spokesman said resources would be put into other areas of the show this year.
He said: “Strictly has enjoyed a fabulous relationship with Blackpool over the years. Though we’re sad not to be going, it’s not to say we won’t return in the future.”
Ballroom dancing fan Vernon Allen, from Freckleton, expressed his disappointment. He said: “I feel sick about it. I was looking forward to it coming back to Blackpool because I’m an avid viewer and I’d love to see it in The Tower Ballroom.
“It brings a lot of revenue to the whole of Fylde so not having it this year will damage a lot of trade for hoteliers and businesses. I really hope it will come back – they should give people on the Fylde another chance of going.
“I used to dance and I love watching the show. It’s such a shame because it looks amazing when it is filmed from the Tower Ballroom.”
Representatives from Blackpool Council, Marketing Blackpool and Blackpool Tower say they are working with the BBC to try and find a solution to bring the show back to the resort in the future.