THE BBC has sensationally pulled the plug on Strictly Come Dancing returning to Blackpool this year.
Despite the resort being crowned the mecca of dance – and Strictly contestants’ love of the world famous Tower Ballroom – TV execs today dropped the bombshell news.
BBC bosses say re-locating north for one night at The Tower is a “mammoth logistical exercise” and resources would now be put “into other areas of the show”.
It is expected the new series of the prime-time Saturday night show will be filmed entirely in a London studio.
Today’s news is a massive blow to Blackpool tourism bosses who have previously said Strictly can create more than £20m of prime time exposure for the resort.
In a joint statement a spokesman for Blackpool Tower, Marketing Blackpool and Blackpool Council said: “It is obviously a huge disappointment to learn the programme will not be returning this year, not just to us but the many thousands of ballroom fans who love to see Strictly in Blackpool each year.
“We appreciate all the efforts made by the BBC in bringing the programme to Blackpool in previous years and working with us to try to find a solution for 2013.
“They have undertaken a tremendous amount of work and disruption over the last 12 months and are going through massive change within the corporation making it impossible to deliver outside of the London studio for 2012.
“We are grateful for their commitment to Blackpool and are working with them to ensure that Strictly will return to Blackpool in the future.
“Everyone knows Blackpool is the home of ballroom and a mecca for dance and we will look forward to making a positive announcement in the future.”
BBC bosses said the announcement regarding this year’s programme did not mean the show would not return to Blackpool in the future.
A spokesman said: “Strictly has enjoyed a fabulous relationship with Blackpool over the years but it’s a mammoth logistical exercise and on this occasion the decision has been taken to put resources into other areas of the show. Though we’re sad not to be going to Blackpool, it’s not to say we won’t return in the future.”
Strictly Come Dancing – hosted by Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly – appeared on our screens for the first time in 2004 and there was huge hype around the show’s final being held in Blackpool.
The resort was dropped the following year, only for The Gazette to launch a campaign to bring Strictly back to Blackpool after one of the show’s judges, Craig Revel Horwood, made an impassioned plea for it to return to the resort in October 2008.
He told The Gazette at the time: “I love Blackpool – I demand Strictly goes back there!”
The campaign saw huge support from across the world of dance as well as backing from celebrities and Fylde coast MPs – with Blackpool’s two MPs putting forward an early day motion for a debate in the House of Commons.
The pleas for its return were finally heard by the BBC and Blackpool hosted a special edition of the show in November 2009.
In 2010, Strictly featured a spectacular live Blackpool show and last year the ballroom was buzzing with excitement when McFly pop star Harry Judd stepped out onto the famous dance floor for the shimmering final.
After clinching victory as Strictly champion, Harry said: “There is so much history here and it is such an incredible building and you can see why it is such a special place.”
But news of Strictly’s departure from the Tower Ballroom has shocked and disappointed the dance fraternity.
Sheila Ganley, from Whittaker Dance and Drama Centre, said: “This is so disappointing. The Tower Ballroom is amazing and a wonderful place to host the show.
“It’s not quite the same for the dancers or the viewers when the show is in the studio, compared to The Tower.
“The dancers – both the professionals and amateurs – all look forward to dancing in Blackpool, and want to make it to that point in the competition.
“Blackpool is all about dancing and shows – it’s very important to have these events in Blackpool. It’s a big part of the resort.
“I’m really disappointed for everyone.”