Ballroom bonanza... marred by backstage theft

The cast dancing during last night's results show. Below: The Strictly Come Dancing judges - Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and presenters Tess Daly (left) and Claudia Winkleman.
The cast dancing during last night's results show. Below: The Strictly Come Dancing judges - Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and presenters Tess Daly (left) and Claudia Winkleman.
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Blackpool was catapulted into the national spotlight as the resort’s glittering Tower Ballroom saw the triumphant return of Strictly Come Dancing.

The venue hosted the biggest ever edition of the prime time dance show in front of more than 11 million television viewers on Saturday night.

The Strictly Come Dancing judges - Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli.

The Strictly Come Dancing judges - Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli.

More than 80 performers took part in the event and nine celebrities with their professional dance partners starred in the 90-minute live spectacular which was broadcast across the nation, bringing an expected six-figure boost to the town’s economy.

But the night threatened to be overshadowed, after thieves broke into the changing room being used by the female celebrities and dancers and stole property.

Police were called to the Promenade venue at around 9.45pm on Saturday to report of a phone, an iPad and jewellery having been taken from the dressing room.

Officers are today continuing to appeal for witnesses to the incident, and say their investigation is focusing on how the thieves came to gain access to the room.

Presenters Tess Daly (left) and Claudia Winkleman.

Presenters Tess Daly (left) and Claudia Winkleman.

But those behind the huge event today insisted nothing could dampen the spirits of what producers said was the most watched episode of the series so far, seen by 11.3 million viewers.

A spokesman for Strictly said: “The incident was dealt with swiftly by police and ballroom staff.

“The celebrities and dancers went on to have a fabulous night on tiles in Blackpool, they didn’t let it dampen their spirits.”

A spokesman for the BBC added: “Once again a truly special and fantastic night was had by all at the Tower Ballroom.

“Blackpool certainly lived up to everyone’s expectations.

“The celebrities and professional dancers will be basking in the glow of dancing at Blackpool for weeks to come.”

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The Gazette revealed on Saturday how the visit of Strictly Come Dancing was expected to bring a £250,000 boost to the resort’s economy in ticket sales and spend on accommodation and food.

Tourism bosses, who told The Gazette the show would offer Blackpool a “money can’t buy” advert, also said they are confident the incident would not tarnish an evening that deserved perfect 10s from the show’s judges.

Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool, said: “It (the theft) is a shame but that’s not what we’ve got to concentrate on, it could have happened anywhere and to anyone.

“Everyone had a fabulous time and that’s what was reflected in the show and that’s what to concentrate on.”

Kate Shane, general manager of The Tower, said of the night: “It was great. We feel privileged to have had it at the Tower.

“The BBC have left happy. Altogether it was positive, despite an incident.”

She said she did not want to comment on the theft as it was the subject of an ongoing police inquiry, but she did move to quash fears the incident could have tarnished the BBC’s view of the town. Ms Shane added: “I asked the question point blank and they said it’s not.”

It has not been confirmed who the victims of the theft were, but reports have suggested dancers Abbey Clancy, Natalie Gumede and Sophie Ellis Bextor were among those to have property stolen. Police are now appealing for information.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Officers are investigating a theft that has occurred at the Tower and are making a number of enquiries to trace the person or people responsible and we would appeal to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area to contact police.”

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