Strictly Come Influencer: The Evolution of Celebrity Guests

PR Account Executive
influencer celebrity guests strictly come dancing

If you’re a fan of keeping up with all the latest BBC shows, then we’re sure you’ve heard of BBC’s glitziest series, Strictly Come Dancing. Aired every Saturday and Sunday evening on BBC One between the months of September and December, the show offers the nation the chance to see some of their favourite celebrities strutting their stuff on the dancefloor in order to win the legendary Glitterball Trophy.

From star-studded actors to Olympic legends, many famous faces have taken to the stage to compete in this fun yet fierce competition. We’re talking Alisha Dixon, Greg Rutherford and Caroline Flack to name but a few. These well-known names have ensured high viewer ratings for the show over the years, with generations of viewers tuning in to watch their favourite celebrities every week.

However, in recent years, we’ve seen a change in the lineups with mainstream celebrity faces being replaced with top-level influencers. What does this new era of celebrity guests mean for the show and why are they now making an appearance on our TV screens?

From Bedroom to Ballroom

Strictly Come Dancing 2018 saw the introduction of world-renowned YouTuber, Joe Sugg, as one of the celebrities taking part in the show. The announcement caused a stir amongst the Strictly fanbase, with some very mixed reviews and reactions to the news.

This year, we saw social media influencer Saffron Barker announced as one of the bombshell celebrities taking part in the show. Once again, this announcement was met with varying reactions, including complete confusion from older generations as to why the 19-year-old girl was even on the show.

However mixed the reactions were, this was exactly the kind of buzz needed to kickstart the new series. After all, a show that has been going on for this long could do with some pre-show press action!

What Caused so Much Controversy?

With the introduction of these influencers came controversy. Many disgruntled viewers took to social media platforms to air their concerns about how the outcome of the show would be affected due to the influencer effect.

People believed that Sugg’s overwhelming following would put him at an unfair advantage when it came to public votes on the show and that better dances would be penalised.

However, after much speculation, Joe got all the way through to the finals and secured his title as runner-up due to overall improvement in his dancing capabilities. Whilst his influencer status may have seen him get more public support from fans, this only goes to show the increase of viewers the show received.

Are “Traditional” Celebrity Guests a Thing of the Past?

With so many stars both old and young, you’d think the show would have a never-ending supply of contestants. However, many A and B list celebrities have actually turned down the opportunity to appear on the show, with 29 stars declining the invitation.

For example, in 2018, it was unearthed that BBC producers had “hit a wall” when it came to finding new celebrity talent for the show. Celebrity and sports star Jamie Redknapp has reportedly refused to ever appear on the show, joining the list of celebrities who are strictly off-limits and therefore slowly limiting the BBC’s choices.

With so many celebrities turning down this opportunity, it seems that influences are the ones we can rely on to help revive the show and ensure that all professionals are coupled up at the start of every season. With an abundance of influencers in varying niche industries such as beauty, gaming and cooking, with many of them showing great interest in appearing on the show, there are now more ways for the BBC to target an even wider audience for the show.

Was this Marketing Ploy a Success?

It is believed that the BBC have started to ask influencers to take part in the show in the hopes that it would increase the number of younger viewers. With millions of willing and loyal followers, it was inevitable that the show would see an increase in viewer ratings. Nowadays, it is actually deemed essential for tv schedulers who are struggling with ageing audiences to add some “social media stardust” to their shows to increase that all-important viewer rating.

In 2018, Strictly Come Dancing almost doubled its social impact on Twitter, with over 88.1K posts being made about the show between 8th and 21st September. In fact, the daily total tweets about the show were up 41% from the previous year.

Diving deeper into the statistics, we can see that out of all the celebrity contestants, Joe Sugg was the most discussed and drove the highest peak of activity. There were an impressive 19.8K Tweets mentioning Joe; perfect for spreading awareness about the show to younger audiences.

Not only this, but Joe’s impressive following also helped put his professional partner (now girlfriend) Dianne Buswell in the limelight, making her the most discussed Strictly professional. The power of an influencer spreads further than just promoting themselves.

Extra Video Content Resulted in Wider Coverage

Throughout the duration of her time on the show, Saffron Barker and her partner, AJ Pritchard, filmed their reactions to their weekly dances for Saffron’s YouTube vlogging channel. With her 1.04M subscribers tuning in to watch these juicy behind-the-scenes videos, Strictly Come Dancing was able to experience higher volumes of coverage.

AJ Pritchard, the professional partner to Saffron Barker, also has his own YouTube channel, offering his fans and viewers with behind the scenes footage in the form of vlogs. Joining the platform back in 2014, he has gained 40.1K subscribers over the years. His coupling with influencer Saffron Barker has certainly seen him posting more on his channel, further promoting the show to a large audience.

With this combined promotional effort from both Saffron and AJ, they were able to spread awareness of the show to an even wider audience in a genuine and organic way.

Will Influencers Keep on Dancing?

Despite some of the professional dancers asking the BBC to consider banning influencers from taking part in the show, we’re certain that other influencers will follow in the footsteps of Joe and Saffron. In fact, popular Influencer and blogger Louise Pentland has repeatedly shown interest in appearing on the show over the years, claiming she’d love to take part as a celebrity guest.

With influencers now being recognised as celebrities just as much as actors, singers, comedians and sportsmen, it’s highly likely that influencers and YouTubers will continue to make appearances on the show in the future.

The added social media presence and new fan bases that influencers bring will offer the show a new life, ensuring it remains as one of the UK’s most popular Saturday night tv shows.

For more information about how you can work with influencers to promote your business, product or service, contact the influencer team on 02039 580427 or email