Chris Harrison on What to Expect from Season 16 of The Bachelorette: 'It's a Wild Ride'
According to Chris Harrison, fans won’t have to wait long for new Bachelorette Clare Crawley to “blow up” the ABC dating series.
“Night one, those limos arrived, and so did the drama,” Harrison, 49, tells PEOPLE.
There’s an unprecedented twist in season 16 beyond the usual fights and romantic dinner dates: Crawley, 39, won’t be the only Bachelorette this season.
Multiple sources confirmed to PEOPLE in August that Tayshia Adams replaces Crawley after she falls in love with one of her suitors and leaves the show early.
So far, ABC has not acknowledged Adams — a contestant on Colton Underwood's season 23 of The Bachelor who later appeared on Bachelor in Paradise. Adams, 30, has also not yet spoken out about the news.
Harrison remained tight-lipped when pressed about Adams' role this season, saying, “What I can confirm is this is Clare’s season 100%, it’s all hers. It’s about her story, and everything that happens after that, you’ll just have to wait and see!”
The longtime host also explained how the show’s cast and production crew were able to film The Bachelorette’s more intimate scenes amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I didn’t want a COVID-19 version,” Harrison says. “We have enough politics and craziness going on in the world — The Bachelorette needs to be what it really is, an escape."
He continues: “Unless we could do it right, we weren't going to do it, and we were able to do it right with testing, quarantining. We were able to shoot the show that you will love and recognize.”
Travel restrictions and scaled-back entertainment options (concerts, amusement parks) during the pandemic meant the production team had to reimagine a show known for its international excursions and grandiose concert dates.
“There’s only so many dates you can do [in one place] and so many looks you can give the audience,” Harrison says.
Crawley was spotted in July filming at La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs. Ex-Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher temporarily filled in for Harrison while he underwent a mandatory two-week quarantine after dropping off his son at college in Texas, PEOPLE confirmed in August.
Next, Harrison is getting ready to host Matt James’s season of The Bachelor, which the host clarifies has not begun production yet.
“If they have started, they just didn't tell me, because I'm still at home,” he says, adding that the crew needed “a break” after filming Crawley’s “emotional, tough” season. “It was very stressful, but we pulled it off and now we have this blueprint, so we can roll into Matt James’s season knowing we have that security.”
ABC announced the 31 men vying for Crawley’s heart on Tuesday, ranging from ages 26 to 40. The group includes a charming doctor, a journalism professor, a southern single dad and a former pro football lineman. Harrison hints that the cast will “raise the level of debate” this season.
“We always go into the seasons thinking nothing can top what we’ve just witnessed, and then, inevitably, something happens that will top the fence jump, whatever it may be” Harrison says. “Claire provides the most explosive season we’ve ever had.”
The Bachelorette premieres Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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