Former Dancing With The Stars NZ dancer and judge Carol-Ann Hanna has challenged the show's makers, asking why the reality TV show is going ahead this year and not being postponed due to Covid-19.
Yesterday MediaWorks announced that DWTS will not be filmed in front of a live audience, in the interests of the health of New Zealanders and in compliance with new government rules that indoor gatherings of people cannot exceed 100 people.
A MediaWorks spokesperson said, "We care about Kiwis' health which is why we have now made the decision that we will not be filming Dancing with the Stars NZ or any other shows in front of a live studio audience until we feel it is completely safe to do so."
However, Carol-Ann Hanna, who was a judge on the show in 2006 and 2007 and a dancer with celebrity partners Norm Hewitt and Roger Farrelly, says MediaWorks should be taking matters further and postponing the reality TV show, which is scheduled to air later this year.
"In my personal opinion it should probably be postponed because there's so much contact and so many people required for a production like that. It's not just the dancers, it's all the production crew, there are a lot of people working closely together which puts a lot of people at risk.
"And it's not just your DWTS or celebrity partner [that you're in close contact with]. There's the group dances as well where you're dancing with a whole bunch of other dancers...
"Although New Zealand hasn't had community transfer of the virus yet, I think that if we don't isolate ourselves and practise proper social distancing [keeping at least two metres apart] - which you can't do with dancing - then it's going to spread."
Carol-Ann, who wrote a column for Now To Love about the show last season, added, "I'm quite surprised they're going ahead with it. I mean, I'm not even going down the road for a coffee.
"If I was a dancer I don't think I'd be participating at the moment. I'd certainly be talking to MediaWorks."
In response a MediaWorks spokesperon has said, "We are taking all the precautionary measures to ensure all dancers and the team are safe and we are following guidance from the Ministry of Health.
"We understand this is a rapidly evolving situation and we are monitoring it daily and will act accordingly."
Carol-Ann's comments follow news today that across the ditch celebrity contestant Christian Wilkins from DWTS Australia will be dancing remotely on Sunday's show due to Covid-19.
Christian is in self isolation after his father, Channel Nine entertainment editor Richard Wilkins tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week after meeting briefly with Rita Wilson, who along with her Hollywood husband Tom Hanks is recovering from Covid-19 in Australia.
Christian has tested negative for the virus, but as a precaution is remaining in isolation.
DWTS Australia is also going ahead without live audiences.
Carol-Ann has appeared in four seasons of Dancing With The Stars. In the very first season of the show, in 2005, she took rugby legend Norm Hewitt all the way through. They won the series with a spine-tingling Paso Doble, which featured a version of the haka.
In 2006 and 2007 she was a judge, and in 2018 she danced with The Rock's Roger Farrelly.
Carol-Ann has retired from dancing.
MediaWorks is yet to announce the official start date of this year's show. Last year's runner-up Laura Daniel will join head judge Camilla Sacre-Dallerup and Julz Tocker on the judge's panel..
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