02 November 2020

BBC ‘refused to delay’ Strictly for Boris Johnson’s second lockdown announcement

The BBC reportedly refused to delay flagship show Strictly Come Dancing for Boris Johnson’s speech on Saturday evening after the prime minister looked to delay the conference for a third time.

Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown just after 6.30pm on Saturday. The conference was originally scheduled for four but then it was delayed until five and then it was pushed back until 6.30.

A source told The Sun: "Strictly is a ­ratings beast for the BBC so they were loath to change the scheduling. No one was afraid to have a showdown with them as Strictly is a priority for the channel.

“Boris’s team asked if the press conference could be moved past 7pm but was sternly told that if that was the case, it would be aired on the News Channel. His team relented and got on air closer to the scheduled time of 6.30pm.

"It was a win for the BBC as they had already taken Little Mix The Search off air and delaying the juggernaut that is Strictly would have been chaos.”

Johnson announced a lockdown on Saturday (PA)

The conference was pushed onto the News Channel at seven o’clock as it ran over but by that time Johnson’s main announcement had finished.

17 million people tuned in to watch the conference and ten million then watched Strictly, an audience boost of 600,000 from last week.

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was the first celebrity to be booted off of the show after a dance off with Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing.

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