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Exclusive: Tess Daly makes heartbreaking confession about filming Strictly in lockdown

The host said it was a privilege to bring the BBC show back during the pandemic

tess daly strictly
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
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Tess Daly has been the face of Strictly Come Dancing for the past 17 years, and has been a vital part of the team who managed to get the nation through those difficult Saturday nights under lockdown and various tier restrictions in December.

Although the majority of the public were forced to stay in, the stars on the show and the crew backstage undeniably went the extra mile to deliver a few hours of wonderful distraction week after week in the lead up to Christmas. Now with 2021 well and truly upon us, the host of the popular dancing series has heaped praise on the team and how it managed to be a salvation for herself as it was for us.

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Speaking exclusively with HELLO! this week, the 51-year-old confessed: "It did genuinely feel like a privilege to actually get the show up on air last year. We were determined to.

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"Ever since March when the first lockdown happened, I was in talks with the producers - 'Can we make it happen?' They were saying, 'We are going to try our hardest. We are going to make this happen and do what we can.'"

She added: "[Just] to make it happen with the odds stacked against us was a feat in itself. It felt so wonderful and extra celebratory."

tess daly strictly claudia winkleman

Tess and Claudia kept their two-metre distance as they filmed Strictly

Despite the joy of bringing the show to our screens, Tess confessed it was extremely heartbreaking to not step in when a contestant was reduced to tears.

"Sometimes it was challenging, when someone was crying next to me - human instinct is to reach out and comfort them. You really want to hold their hand," she shared. "They're going through something, and you want to reassure them.

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"That's my job on the show. Not be physically next to them was tough but we had to do what we had to do to make the show happen."

Tess was also forced to keep her two-metre distance from co-host and good friend Claudia Winkleman - unfortunately, during the last series, viewers were unable to see the pair hold hands as they preached their iconic "Keep Dancing" moto.

tess daly strictly come dancing© Photo: BBC

The TV star expressed her gratitude for being able to work

"Standing away from Claudia was challenging too, I love that girl," the TV star explained. "I love standing side to side with her. Distancing was challenging but I'm so proud of us that we managed to do it. We did it because we had to do it. If we didn't do that then people may have got sick and the show wouldn't have been able to air had we lost more couples or crew."

Sharing her gratitude for being able to work, Tess continued: "It was a wonderful series. We were grateful to be at work - so many people weren't able to work at that time. Just to be able to do that, be creative at work was a luxury.

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"We've all been so deprived of social contact - that is such a big thing for human beings. We need that interaction. I'm a people person and I like to talk. I love exchanges with people whether that's in a supermarket or in the streets. It felt great to work and be a joy booster - people have said it really helped during the second lockdown, which was tough."

tess daly claudia winkleman

The presenter has been the face of Strictly for the past 17 years

Meanwhile, away from the TV screens, Tess is busy homeschooling her children as well as keeping up with her dedicated fitness regime. She has also partnered up with Activia to support its 14-day #ActiviaChallenge, where alongside focusing on their gut health, participants are being encouraged to do other small things that help make them feel good.

MORE: Tess Daly shares previously unseen photo with husband Vernon Kay

"Basically, for now, at this time, it's about nurturing your wellbeing," she said. "[Taking care] of your mental health, your physical health and just to look after yourself.

tess daly

Tess has teamed up with Activia for their new campaign

"What I've found really helps me is staring the day with an online yoga class. After the kids have had their breakfast and get on their first online lesson of the day, I will take myself off for a 20-minute online yoga class because it's brilliant."

Of the campaign, Tess concluded: "It's never been more important to look after our immune system. For me, wellbeing is everything and it begins in your gut. I've been a gut health enthusiast for as long as I can remember."

To take part in the 14-day #ActiviaChallenge, which goes live on Monday, visit

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