Strictly fans poke fun at ill-timed opening song after restrictions

‘Everybody’s Free… are we heck!’ Strictly viewers poke fun at ill-timed opening number after UK is hit by new restrictions… as show outlines its strict social distancing measures

Strictly Come Dancing fans were left less than impressed after the show made an ill-timed song choice for its professional group number.

The hit BBC show returned to screens on Saturday night with a pre-recorded episode to reveal who the celebrity contestants had been paired with.

However its choice of song Free by Ultra Nate in one performance caused dozens of viewers to take to Twitter, with some poking fun that the show was ‘out of touch’. 

They’re back: Strictly Come Dancing returned to TV on Saturday night, but some viewers were left puzzled by the show’s music choice song of Free by Ultra Nate for the opening number

Also during the glittering first instalment, Strictly outlined its strict social distancing measures and new ways of putting on a sensational show.

One person wrote: ‘Tonight’s #Strictly began with a pro routine to ‘Everybody’s Free’. You been watching the news this year, pal?’

While another was also confused, tweeting: ‘You’re free to do what you want to do. Strictly there, totally in touch with the times’

And someone else penned: ”Seriously…. no one thinks that the opening song choice was ridiculous!!???!, you’re free to do what you want to do…. are we heck! Rub it in.’

Agreeing with the sentiment, a fourth fan said: ‘A very strange start to Strictly, they are playing a song stating ‘you are free to do what you want to do.’ I don’t think so!’ 

Staying safe: Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly also outlined the shows strict social distancing measures as they opened the series

Others made direct links to the new coronavirus rules which were announced this week, with London being put into Tier 2 restrictions on Friday night.  

A viewer said: ‘Whilst half the UK are suffering under extra restrictions, and the global pandemic has restricted social freedoms for billions of people, Strictly Come Dancing has decided to open with the song ‘Free’?’ 

While at least some viewers tried to see a lighter side to the song choice, with one tweeting: ‘Strictly band destroying Free by Ultra Nate, one of the most amazing tracks of the 1990’s, an in an empty room is about as 2020 as it gets.’  

Questions: Dozens of viewers took to Twitter to express their confusion at the song choice

‘Nothing like an Ultra Nate cover to remind over half of Britain how #Free they aren’t!!!,’ added another person on the social media platform. 

The show’s return to TV comes just a day after London, Essex and York were moved to Tier 2 restrictions and as 16,171 new cases of Covid-19 were announced.

During the night Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly also outlined how the show had adapted to the current climate and introduced safety measures.

They told the audience: ‘Earlier in the year out dedicated profesional  dancers isolated at home before moving into a hotel together and becoming a household.

‘Because of this they were able to perform their group dances together. We will explain more about that later in the show.’ 

In action: The professionals were sure to bring the glamour and talent as they showed off their moves to the hit 90s dance tune

The glam pair then continued: ‘And there are some other changes too, Tess and I are two metres apart and we have a smaller audience in household groups and socially distanced from each other.

‘And thankfully Dave Arch and his wonderful orchestra and singers are here and are able to perform safely too.’ 

It had been reported that stars and their professional partners may be forced to undertake daily checks for coronavirus after a former crew member tested positive days before the new series. 

The Sun has also claimed that bosses have a list of ‘stand-by’ celebrities for the show in case a star falls ill with relatives likely banned from rehearsals.  

It’s back! The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series

This year has already seen the pros pre-record all of their group performances while isolating together in a hotel, and the couples have formed separate bubbles to train and perform together.  

The series will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in small groups and will only be allowed to attend if from the same household or bubble.

In a recent Q and A, executive producer Sarah James shed light on the show’s contingency plans in light of the pandemic and insisted she’s ‘confident’ the competition series will go ahead even if the current coronavirus restrictions change. 

As the nation waits to see how the stars will fare, Strictly bosses have drawn up tough plans to deal with anyone who falls ill.

Paired: The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link (Jamie and pro partner Karen Hauer pictured) 

Making history: Celebrities including Nicola Adams (pictured with pro partner Katya Jones), Jamie Laing and Maisie Smith discovered which professional dancer would put them through their paces in the upcoming weeks 

Sarah said: ‘Obviously according to government guidelines if you receive a positive test you have to isolate for two weeks and that would unfortunately rule them out of the show.’ 

This year’s series will be a pared down nine-week run with a very different look. The 12 partnerships – three less than usual – will be unveiled via video link rather than in the studio and the annual trip to the Blackpool Tower ballroom is also off the cards. 

Sarah also discussed how hairdressers and make-up artist have had to adjust to the new guidelines as she added: ‘Hair and make-up and costume are all allowed in accordance with government guidelines. 

‘We were able to have our hair and make-up team working with full PPE and sanitising once hairdressers and other facilities reopened. 

Sweet: Hrvy, 21, and Janette Manrara, 36, were announced as a pairing on the show 

‘Hair and make-up were able to work with as many of the different cast as they wanted or needed to, but this year we’ll have specific makeup teams assigned to specific couples to ensure people don’t mix as much.’

During the night pairings were also revealed with Nicola and Katya Jones, Jamie and Karen Hauer, Maisie and Gorka Marquez all being matched.

Others included Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe, Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk, and Max George and Dianne Buswell. 

Rounding off the Strictly duos were Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice, Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec, Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse, JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, Hrvy and Janette Manrara, and Rt Hon Jacqui Smith and Anton du Beke.  

Happy: Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, 57, and Anton Du Beke, 54, were delighted to be partnered together 

The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link. 

This will allow for couples to form their own individual ‘bubbles’ for training and performances, meaning the stars will have maintain distance from each other during filming.  

Elsewhere during the show, the pros dazzled with a sensational opening routine with judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel-Horwood were seated on separate podiums to ensure the programme adheres to COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

Fourth judge Bruno Tonioli was unable to travel back to the UK from his home in LA for the filming due to the Covid-19 crisis and his work commitments on Dancing With The Stars. 

He has spent the last 15 years jetting between the US and the UK for the two shows but coronavirus travel restrictions have scuppered his schedule.

How is Strictly 2020 going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Strictly Come Dancing has introduced an array of strict measures to ensure the new series can go ahead during the COVID-19 crisis.

Celebrity contestants and their professional partners are tested regularly, with cast and crew told to isolate should they contract the virus.

Bosses have already confirmed any celebrity that tests positive once the series begins will be dropped from the show, with reports saying there are celebrities on stand-by.

The professional dancers have already pre-recorded their group performances after isolating together in a hotel.

It’s also been claimed that celebrities and pros will be axed from the show if they are caught kissing during filming.

Strictly 2020 has also seen the series run shortened to just nine weeks, with 12 celebrities taking part instead of the usual 15.

The show’s annual trip to Blackpool has been cancelled, along with this year’s Halloween and Christmas specials.

Only three judges – Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse – will be in the studio with separate rostrums, after Bruno Tonioli was unable to appear due to travel concerns. 

Veteran judge Bruno has said he will be ‘involved remotely’ and hopes to return full-time towards the end of the series as he is filming the US version of the show in Los Angeles. 

With limited studio crew, big sets may not be built – so producers will use augmented reality, which adds computer-generated elements.

To ensure the contestants can work closely with their partners, they will ‘bubble up’ to train, along with being tested regularly. 

Strictly will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in groups on separate tables, and will only attend if from the same household or bubble.

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