STRICTLY IN BLACKPOOL: Iconic show heads to the Pleasure Beach
A TV institution, Strictly Come Dancing's live Blackpool Tower Ballroom broadcast has become a highlight of the resort's calendar.
Hailed each year as a ‘money can’t buy’ advert for the town, the show beams live into around 12million homes in a dazzling showcase of all that is great about Blackpool.
So tourism chiefs in the resort are happy to adapt their plans to make the TV event the great success it has become.
With eight celebrity couples taking to the dancefloor, and a performance from Take That - this year's extravaganza is shaping up to once more put the resort in the spotlight.
The amusement park has featured several times on Strictly’s Blackpool show, and in recent years its Big Blue Hotel has been the base for the cast and crew staying in town, with the after show party even taking place there last year.
Pleasure Beach managing director Amanda Thompson said: “For many years we have worked with Strictly out of season to convey the magic of the resort to the millions of viewers at home.
“Although we are usually closed for the season when Strictly arrive in town, our teams always work hard to keep at least one ride open to allow the contestants to experience what Blackpool Pleasure Beach has to offer.
“In the past we have welcomed Georgia May Foote to ride the Big One, Judge Rinder braved the Ice Blast, Pamela Stevenson had a scream on the Ghost Train and Anita Rani recreated cherished family memories during her visit.
“This year, as we have opened our new £16.25 double launch coaster, Icon, it would be amazing to see an ‘iconic’ star ride it on such an ‘iconic’ show.”
Among the celebrity dancers heading to Blackpool is Casualty actor Charles Venn, and he’s all set to shake up the ballroom with a samba to Connie Francis hit La Bamba with his professional partner Karen Clifton.
En route to rehearsals yesterday morning, Charles told The Gazette: “I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Blackpool, but Karen has given me a good idea of what to expect.
“I’m a big kid and a really want to hit the funfair. I’ve got a big coat and I’ll be doing that regardless of the temperature.”
He’s excited for the experience of dancing at the ‘mecca of ballroom’, having repeatedly been in the bottom two dance-off throughout the series.
“As someone who’s never danced before, if you told me 30 years ago as a 15-year-old, ‘You will be dancing at one of the most lauded ballrooms in the world’, I’d have never believed it,” he said.
“I’m 100 per cent looking forward to having a big crowd in the audience, and reaching Blackpool is a milestone.
“It was so close to being the end for us in the third round when we ended up in the bottom two, I honestly thought the experience was over.
“[When it happened again] we were thinking ‘We are not going to make it [to Blackpool], and now we’re here talking about the anticipation.
“You work hard, take the knocks and it’s how you pick yourself up that counts.”
The actor teased some of the treats in store for viewers on Saturday night, confirming extra dancers will be taking to the floor for both the celebrities’ routines and for the group numbers which will open each night’s broadcast.
“It wouldn’t be the big spectacle without a bit of extra, and extra dancers, at Blackpool Tower Ballroom,” he said. “The group number we will be performing is unreal - at rehearsals, my mouth was agape.”