Neil Jones, 38, made history for himself during last year’s season of Strictly Come Dancing as he secured a celebrity partner for the first time since he joined the show in 2016. Despite an injury pulling him out the competition for a few weeks, he and former professional footballer Alex Scott, 35, placed fifth on the BBC programme. However, this year, he will be back on the sidelines alongside three of his other co-stars as this season will be shorter due to the current restrictions being put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
How is Boris Johnson handling the coronavirus crisis? Vote in our poll
12 celebrity faces will be partnered up with one member of the 16 strong professional line-up, meaning four of the trained dancers will be exclusively performing as part of group numbers.
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other publications, Executive Producer Sarah James confirmed Neil would be missing out again this year.
The show boss also revealed Graziano Di Prima, 26, would be taking a back seat again after he didn’t perform with a cast member last season.
Nadiya Bychkova, 31, will also be waiting in the wings for the first time since she joined the professional line-up in 2017.
Finally, after being unveiled as a new dancer in 2019, Nancy Xu, 29, will also miss out on competing this year.
READ MORE: Strictly Come Dancing 2020 line-up: Celebrity contestants confirmed
As part of the guidelines allowing the competition to continue in the midst of the pandemic, the celebrities and professional will form their own close contact cohorts.
This allows a certain group of people to work closely together without the need for social distancing, but they have to remain exclusively as part of said group.
For the four professionals who aren’t being partnered up, this means they will form their own CCC to take part in the background.
Sarah explained: “We have two males and two females and they will be forming a CCC together so that they are able to dance in the guest music acts.”
All the professionals have already recorded the 14 group numbers which will be a feature of this year’s season.
In order to do this, the trained dancers isolated away from their loved ones at a hotel to allow them to break social distancing guidelines.
Speaking a little more about the technicalities of trying to record the group performances, Kate Philips, Acting Controller of BBC One, said: “There were over 300 costume changes during that time to make them all look as amazing as ever.
“I cannot tell you how impressed we’ve all been with the work BBC studios have been doing, not just to make sure that it is safe for everyone taking part in the show, but also the inventiveness.”
“I think, as challenges have emerged, new ideas have emerged as well and it really is a case of necessity is the mother of invention,” Kate continued.
Sarah added: “What [the challenges have] sort of thrown up is some really new exciting things which I’m really looking forward to the viewers seeing and obviously our main thing was to keep everybody safe and to make sure everybody was comfortable.
“But what we have benefited from, I think, is having some months of planning – we’ve looked at other territories of Dancing with the Stars around the world.
“We’ve had some foresight of what we need to do. That’s really, really helped. So yeah, I’m really excited that we’re coming back.”
Strictly Come Dancing 2020 begins next month on BBC One.