Strictly Christmas special dealt huge blow as star’s ‘forced to pull out’ of show

BBC Breakfast: Dan Walker talks about leaving Strictly

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Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special began filming today at Elstree Studios and is set to see a star-studded line-up compete to become the Christmas champion. However, the BBC production has been dealt a huge blow as Sheridan Smith has reportedly pulled out just hours before filming.

Sheridan Smith, 40, was meant to star alongside Take That singer Gary Barlow, 50, as they performed their new festive single How Christmas is Supposed to Be.

However, before filming began on Tuesday morning, the episode is reported to have been restructured as news of Sheridan’s absence came to light.

A production source said: “The Beeb were given notice quite late in the day that Sheridan wouldn’t be able to film on Tuesday after all.

“So, it’ll just be Gary performing on his own. They’re gutted,” they told The Sun.

The BBC has declined to comment on this at this time.

A representative for Smith also declined to comment when contacted by Express.co.uk.

The BBC had previously announced Sheridan and Gary would be one of two “special” performances for the Christmas Day episode.

The reasons for Smith’s supposed withdrawal haven’t been disclosed but it comes just one week after the star’s car was involved in a crash.

Taking to the Strictly Christmas dancefloor this year is TV and radio presenter Moira Stewart and singer Anne-Marie.

Former Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc, Maître d’hôtel Fred Sirieix and expert furniture restorer Jay Blades will also be showing off their skills.

Current Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton Du Beke has recently expressed his disappointment on being a judge on the special and not being paired with a celebrity.

Anton said in a statement: “I love the Christmas special – it’s marvellous, the songs are great, and the costumes are amazing.

“I’m slightly disappointed that I’m judging as I’d love to be dancing in it because I love it so much. And, you can’t get voted off, that’s what I love about it most.

“I’m looking forward to judging in it though and dressing up, I don’t know what costume I’m going to be in yet, but it will be something fabulous.”

He added: “It’s the most wonderful thing on telly – the Christmas special has become a tradition in itself.”

First Dates star Fred Sirieix debuted his newly dyed, unmissable red hair as he matched professional dance partner Dianne Buswell.

Speaking to Rylan Clark on BBC Two’s It Takes Two, Fred said: “I absolutely love Christmas, so I’m delighted to be taking part in the Strictly Christmas special.

“And to be partnered with the magnificent Dianne. I hope my dance moves bring some Christmas joy to everybody watching at home and don’t make the judges say, ‘bah, Humbug!'”

Fred has become a fan favourite already with his Instagram videos of him causing havoc around Elstree Studios.

He knocked on head judge Shirley Ballas’ dressing room door before pulling a terrified face and sprinting away.

Also teasing his dance partner, he told Dianne: “Look who I’ve got here. Dianne doing her make-up. You don’t need make-up, you’re already too beautiful.”

Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas Special airs on Christmas Day at 5.10pm on BBC One

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