'Strictly' hit by COVID: 7 other times the pandemic caused chaos for reality TV

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Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden are now isolating. (BBC)
Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden are now isolating. (BBC)

We're just a week into Strictly Come Dancing's live shows, but already one of the couples has tested positive for COVID and is in self-isolation.

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden have become the 2021 cast's first pair to fall foul of filming restrictions, although they hope to be back on the dancefloor by week three.

Read more: Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden hit by COVID diagnosis

However, they're far from being the only reality TV participants to have been hit by COVID issues – we take a look back at some of the most memorable, and the most disruptive, occasions.

Strictly Come Dancing

Picture Shows:  Nicola Adams, Katya Jones - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Nicola Adams and Katya Jones' 'Strictly' journey had an abrupt end. (BBC/Guy Levy)

Last year, Strictly remained relatively unscathed by coronavirus compared with some other shows, but wasn't completely untouched.

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, touted as one of the star pairings as the show's first-ever same sex couple, were forced to drop out in week four after testing positive.

Last year's tougher restrictions forced an immediate quit for Adams and Jones; this time, Fletcher and Dowden will be able to return once their isolation period is up.

Dancing On Ice

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Frost/ITV/Shutterstock (11736470fp)
Joe Warren-Plant and Vanessa Bauer
'Dancing On Ice' TV show, Series 13, Episode 3, Hertfordshire, UK - 31 Jan 2021
Joe-Warren Plant and Vanessa Bauer had an early exit from the ice. (Matt Frost/ITV/Shutterstock)

ITV's Dancing On Ice had a particularly tough time in the 2021 series, even having to take a week's break partway through as so many couples were forced to pull out.

The drop-outs weren't all coronavirus related – the show is known for its high rate of injuries, and 2021 saw more than most years – but there were two very high-profile COVID disruptions.

Rufus Hound and Joe-Warren Plant had both been pegged as early favourites, with Hound even winning a coveted straight pass through the first elimination after his debut performance.

Read more: Jason Gardiner says Dancing On Ice shouldn't have gone ahead amid COVID

But we were left wondering what might have been when Hound and his partner Robin Johnstone had to withdraw after just one routine, and were later followed by Plant and his partner Vanessa Bauer in week five, due to positive tests.

The series only narrowly avoided complete disaster: Denise Van Outen, Billie Shepherd and Jason Donovan had to quit through injury and the show got through both its reserve skaters for the first time ever, as well as seeing a couple of injured pro skaters.

I'm A Celebrity

Ant and Dec have relocated from Down Under to Gwrych Castle. (ITV)
Ant and Dec relocated from Down Under to Gwrych Castle. (ITV)

Other shows might have seen their recent episodes disrupted by cast members testing positive, but I'm A Celebrity as we know it was completely changed by the pandemic.

The Ant and Dec-fronted celebrity challenge show was all ready to celebrate its 20th year in the jungle with stars camping out under the stars and eating witchetty grubs.

But with Australia's borders closed and strict travel restrictions in place for the UK, there was a change of camp location – to Gwrych Castle in Abergele, Wales.

Read more: I'm A Celebrity to return to Wales for 2021

It might not have been the sunshine break Ant and Dec usually get in the run-up to Christmas, but the show's decidedly chillier format went down a storm with viewers, and with travel blocks still in place it has been confirmed that the 2021 series is heading back to the castle.

Former Strictly pro AJ Pritchard did test positive in the run-up to the 2020 series launch, but was out of isolation in time to take up his place in the I'm A Celeb camp.

Married At First Sight UK

Pictured: Matt on his and Daniel's honeymoon.
Matt's honeymoon was longer than expected. (Channel 4)

The recent reboot of Married At First Sight UK has been a hit with viewers, but one fan-favourite couple were absent from the first dinner party and commitment ceremony with many speculating they were held up by COVID rules.

Matt and Dan had enjoyed an idyllic honeymoon in Mexico as they realised they had each been matched with the man of their dreams.

But when they called the group to tell them they wouldn't be coming to the first dinner, they briefly explained that they had been "stuck on honeymoon".

Pictured: (L-R) Morag, Alexis, Amy and Nikita at the hen party.
The group had to continue without Matt and Dan for a while. (Channel 4)

It was never officially explained what had happened, but fans of the show assumed that they were either having trouble leaving Mexico, or had to stay in isolation once they got home.

The show's 2020 series, the last to film under the old, less structured format where the couples' paths barely cross, saw the pandemic both make and break the two couples involved.

Read more: MAFS UK removes Nikita over unacceptable behaviour

Shareen and David, who had opted to spend some time apart after struggling to hit it off, then found themselves unable to meet up again because of restrictions and ultimately fizzled out.

But Michelle and Owen were thrown together by lockdown and thrived in the time together at home, becoming the only couple from the UK show to remain married to date.

Geordie Shore

Abbie Holborn, Nathan Henry, Sophie Kasaei, Chloe Ferry and Sam Gowland of Geordie Shore attending the MTV Europe Music Awards 2018 held at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, Spain. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Geordie Shore filming was halted during the pandemic. (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

The Geordie Shore cast have been affected by coronavirus in a number of different ways since the start of the pandemic.

First up, production was forced to stop when the first lockdown was announced.

Plans were then afoot to take the hard-partying series on location to Colombia, with many of Newcastle's bars and clubs under restrictions, but travel issues put a halt to the jaunt.

Charlotte Crosby had a wasted trip to Australia.
Charlotte Crosby had a wasted trip to Australia.

Meanwhile, spin-off series Geordie Shore Reacts made use of old clips for the cast to watch back and comment on – but then a member of production crew tested positive.

One of the Shore's biggest stars, Charlotte Crosby, made an ultimately pointless round-trip to Australia earlier this year when she was invited over for work, having starred in the Aussie version of I'm A Celeb.

But during her mandatory two-week hotel isolation after landing Down Under, the country tightened up its border restrictions again and she was loaded straight back on to a plane home having never set foot outside of her hotel room.

The Only Way Is Essex

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/07/25: Chloe Brockett attending the In The Style Summer Party at Libertine in London. (Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Chloe Brockett was rumoured to have broken lockdown rules. (Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

When Towie returned to screens in the spring, Chloe Brockett was absent from episodes and rumoured to have been dropped after flouting lockdown rules.

Reports suggested that she had been to visit boyfriend Jack Fincham, who wasn't in her bubble, during lockdown and that bosses had banned her from returning to work.

A statement from Towie said: "A member of our cast was reminded of the guidelines three weeks ago after appearing to visit the garden of someone not in their bubble.

"Consequently they were not permitted to continue filming until providing negative COVID results."

Love Is Blind

Love Is Blind: After the Altar. Episode 13, Married, Single, and It's Complicated. Pictured: (L-R) Amber, Diamond and LC. c. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021
Amber, Diamond and LC had a tough chat about COVID and exclusivity. (Netflix)

Netflix dating show Love Is Blind was a huge hit pre-pandemic, but the drama continued on another level once coronavirus struck.

In catch-up series After The Altar, there was a jaw-dropping row between Amber and LC over another contestant, Mark, who hadn't even turned up to the reunion.

Mark had been matched to another woman during the series but when that didn't work out, he began dating single LC and stayed friends with Amber.

Love Is Blind Mark
Love Is Blind's Mark was at the centre of the row. (Netflix)

He'd told LC that he wasn't dating anybody else, but it turned out that he was lying – with serious consequences.

LC said: “I have asthma, I’m not trying to get COVID. I’ve been really good about it. I don’t want to date anyone right now who’s dating anyone else, especially.”

But as she questioned Amber about pal Mark's decision to date multiple women during a pandemic, Amber told her: "That's not relevant."

LC replied: "It is relevant. I got COVID."

Even after admitting that Mark's current girlfriend, who he had been seeing at the same time, had also got COVID, Amber continued to defend her friend, leaving LC and viewers lost for words.

Watch: Anton Du Beke addresses reports of unvaccinated Strictly dancers

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