WE have seen some incredible feats of strength on Strictly Come Dancing over the years.
Think of Anton Du Beke dragging Ann Widdecombe across the dancefloor . . . and more recently, the tenacity of the show’s makers in getting two series aired during a global pandemic.
The 2021 series reaches its climax on Saturday. But producers face another hurdle organising this year’s traditional reunion dance featuring the stars and their pro partners.
I can confirm comedian and actor Robert Webb will not be returning, having left the contest in October for health reasons. That means Aussie pro Dianne Buswell could be without a partner.
She could always pair up with Greg Wise, whose pro partner Karen Hauer has a knee injury and will be out of action until the new year.
If that were not enough, there is a chill in the air at the studios as Nina Wadia prepares to return having described the judges as “shocking and horrible”.
A telly insider said: “There’s nothing to suggest the dance won’t happen but it’s going to be a difficult one to arrange.
“Not only do they have so many more people to organise so they’re as Covid-safe as possible, they have two dropouts and one celebrity who’s not exactly flavour of the month with the cast and crew.
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“But given the past four months, the producers will find a way to make it happen, one way or another.”
Since this series started, two celebrities and two dance pros have been forced to step back after catching Covid. Then Ugo Monye injured his back, causing the rugby pundit to miss a week.
And around the same time Robert had to quit completely following fears for his heart after undergoing major surgery last year.
Meanwhile, Covid forced judges Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse to each miss an episode and self-isolate.
Despite all this, the Strictly production team have done an admirable job keeping the show on the road.
And we’ve ended up with three worthy celebrities for this weekend’s final in Bake Off winner John Whaite, actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and presenter AJ Odudu.
It’s just a shame something as minor as the reunion dance should give bosses a headache . . . just as the end was in sight.
Four Lives start date announced
THE BBC have confirmed a January start date for drama Four Lives, starring Sheridan Smith, which looks at the plight of relatives and friends of young men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port, played by Stephen Merchant.
It follows the conclusion of an inquest into the deaths.
Atack on 'unsexy' Xmas hits
CELEBRITY Juice captain Emily Atack has been romantically linked to one of our biggest football stars in Jack Grealish.
But she insists she doesn’t always get to pick and choose her men.
On this Thursday’s festive special of Celebrity Juice on ITV2 she says she struggles to get snogs from lads she used to go to school with – and blames yuletide tunes for scuppering her chances.
Emily said: “I can’t stand Christmas songs because I go back home, and you want to get off with the guy that’s had a glow up from school so you’re, like, getting prepared.
“And then you go to the pub and all the Christmas songs come on.
“But I can’t dance provocatively to Christmas tunes. I’m sick of the Christmas tunes, can’t get off with anyone.”
That’s the spirit, Emily.
Eye think line was the star
STARSTRUCK is ITV’s eagerly-awaited reboot of Stars in their Eyes, even if it lacks the famous catchphrase: “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…”
The legendary line, uttered as an introduction by every contestant, is not being rephrased in honour of new host Jason Manford.
Speaking on the My Time Capsule podcast, ex-host Matthew Kelly says Jason is missing out.
He said: “The best thing about that catchphrase was it had my name in it. I didn’t invent it, and I was the only one who couldn’t say it.
"People couldn’t come up to me and say ‘Go on, say that line!’ Why would I say that to myself? I couldn’t.”
The new show airs next year, and Matthew reckons Jason is onto a good gig, saying: “What was great was that the punters were doing all the work and I was getting all the money. Absolute genius.”
Whole new level for Carr
HE’S used to doing stand-up in front of challenging crowds, but Alan Carr's latest gig took things to a whole new level.
As part of hosting this year’s Royal Variety Performance at the Albert Hall, he took part in a sensational acrobatics routine with the daring Messoudi Brothers.
The Albert Hall show, which will be screened this Sunday on ITV, saw the funnyman suddenly reveal a physique which looked suspiciously ripped, with rock-hard abs and perfect pecs.
But there was no faking the gravity-defying feats he found himself at the centre of as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked on.
However, even though they were appearing in front of royalty, it wasn’t as make-or-break as the last time the brothers appeared on TV.
That was an audition for talent show king Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent.
After all, if Wills and Kate aren’t impressed, they can’t buzz them off stage.
Midwives facing brutal plot twist
IT’S the gentle BBC drama that has captivated viewers for almost ten years.
But Call the Midwife’s creator says its eleventh series will include a brutal twist.
Heidi Thomas said the nurses of Nonnatus House will end the series in “peril.”
She said: “Nonnatus has been under threat many, many times, but it’s always been the bricks and mortar.
“And this time it’s the people who are in peril. But when I realised what was coming out of my head and my hands onto the computer screen, I couldn’t quite believe it.”
The show has always combined the rough with the smooth, so viewers can expect romance for Trixie.
Helen George, who plays Trixie, said: “It’s a friendship really, and a support mechanism, it becomes for both of them, before it becomes anything romantic, and I think it takes a long time for them to…
"I think it’s one of those things everyone else possibly sees around them, before they see it themselves.”
Heidi added: “Yes, Trixie’s romance with the wonderful Matthew goes from strength to strength.
SERIES OF 'PERIL'
“And it’s been really interesting to follow Cyril and Lucille as newlyweds through the first year of their married life. They face specific challenges, you see those ups and downs of married life.”
Heidi said she is still in awe that the show has managed to span a decade. But she reckons it all comes down to Call the Midwife’s heart.
She said: “The secret of success – I think it’s sincerity, we mean it, we don’t sit down to create an engine or a Leviathan that is shown in more than 200 countries around the world.
"We care about our stories. We care about the people in them. And we mean it.
“And I think it’s fair to say over the decade we’ve been on now, we’ve had many imitators, all of which we’ve now seem to have outlived or most of them anyway.
“Because people have tried to do what we do, but you can’t copy sincerity. It can’t be done.
“Basically you’ve got three feisty middle-aged women saying, what are we going to do now? What do we care about? What needs changing? Well, come on, let’s tell that story.”
Call the Midwife’s festive special airs on Christmas Day and series 11 begins on January 2, 2022.
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