ABC has a ball with ‘Dancing’

Alphabet frolics with BBC hit

The BBC hit “Strictly Come Dancing” is waltzing its way across the pond, as ABC has ordered six episodes of a U.S. version.

Project will be renamed for the U.S., but the concept will remain the same: Eight celebs are paired with professional dancers and train to compete in a live ballroom-dancing competish.

ABC locked up domestic format rights to the series earlier this year (Daily Variety, Jan. 17).

For the first time in the Beeb’s history, the ABC version will be produced by the same BBC Entertainment team that handles the U.K. version. Richard Hopkins, creative head of format entertainment at the BBC, will exec produce.

“Working with ABC in this unique way gives us a new opportunity to develop a hit BBC property in this extremely important market,” said Colin Jarvis, BBC Worldwide’s director of format licensing.

Casting for American celebs is already under way; net hopes to air the skein this summer. Competition will be broadcast live on ABC.

“I am fully aware that this may sound like the craziest show anyone has ever heard of,” said Andrea Wong, ABC’s exec VP of alternative programming, specials and latenight. “But in a world where it’s easier for reality series to imitate than innovate, I just loved how fresh this format is.”

Like the cult Australian film “Strictly Ballroom,” the series will focus on the spectacle of ballroom dancing competition, including the loud, sequined costumes.

“Strictly Come Dancing” is nominated for a BAFTA in the entertainment series category and took the new program prize at the Broadcast Awards.

“Richard and his team have created the television phenomenon of the past year,” said BBC Entertainment Group head Wayne Garvie.

Fox, meanwhile, is working on a rival project, “Dance Nation,” from Dick Clark and “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller (Daily Variety, Jan. 17).

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