The judges get dressed in broom cupboards, the physio’s treatment room is in the disabled toilet, and the props won’t fit through the doors. But Strictly Come Dancing loves coming to Blackpool.
When you move Britain’s biggest TV show to one of the country’s most historic ballrooms, you have to make use of every available space.
“We turn broom closets into dressing rooms for our cast. They literally are tiny little broom closets,” explains Strictly’s line producer Kate Jones, who is in charge of all the backstage logistics.
“Which everyone loves,” she adds, slightly unconvincingly. “We even use a large toilet as our physio room. So the poor physio gets to spend the whole day in the toilet. We do cover the toilets for them.”
Make do and mend
The Strictly celebs and dancers – plus members of the crew – have made the trip from Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire to Blackpool for the show’s annual seaside outing this weekend.
But the ornate ballroom, which was opened in 1899, wasn’t designed with the demands of television in mind.
The backstage area is a warren of cramped corridors, dark stairs and small rooms. Behind the doors, there are makeshift wardrobe rooms where costume ladies busily adjust outfits amid racks of bright clothes. Or you might find a room filled with rows of tightly-packed, brightly-lit mirrors where the stars will do their make-up and hair.
Sound equipment is stacked in one corridor, and piles of empty kit cases are in another. Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly have the pick of the dressing rooms, but they are hardly grand (even if Claudia does have a grand piano stored in the corner of hers).
Dame Darcey Bussell seems to have drawn the short straw and is in one of the broom closets, which just about has room for a nice chair to give the illusion of luxury – but not much else.
The professionals must make do with shared dressing rooms – one for men, one for women – which will be cramped and hot come Saturday night.
And the celebrities? They don’t even have dressing rooms. Presumably, the wardrobe rooms and corridors will suffice. Luckily they aren’t precious.
Steps star Faye Tozer says: “In Elstree, we’ve all got our own lovely modern dressing rooms and here it’s a bit makeshift, but it brings everyone together. This is the entertainment biz – we’ve all changed in a toilet.”