Strictly Come Dancing hires ex-Army minders for ahead of first BBC live show after DEATH THREATS are sent to the show’s stars

Strictly Come Dancing hires ex-Army minders for ahead of first BBC live show after DEATH THREATS are sent to the show’s stars

- in Gossip

STRICTLY was last night put under a security lockdown after letters containing death threats were sent to its stars.

Ex-military personnel surrounded the BBC studio ahead of the first live show.

Chris Eades

An ex-forces protection squad has been brought in to surround the BBC studios at Elstree — with contestants were assigned codenames in a secret briefing[/caption]

A source said a new protection team was brought in after “a couple of specific, very sinister threats”.

Nervous stars performed on the first live show last night  — with a security lockdown firmly in place.

The ex-forces protection squad was brought in to surround the BBC studio — and contestants were assigned codenames in a secret briefing.

Security has been beefed up in the wake of terrifying letters, with death threats to stars including Alex Scott and new judge Motsi Mabuse.

Splash News

Strictly stars, such as Katya Jones seen leaving her hotel,, have been told to stop posting on social media platforms to make it harder for their location to be discovered[/caption]

Contestants have been banned from posting photos from training in case venues get identified.

They have also been advised to guard their homes while they are on TV, and security now has a hotline to police in case of an emergency.

Last night a source said: “A new security team has been introduced to deal with a couple of specific, very sinister threats.

“Each year celebs get letters but this year there have been a few stand-out, deeply sinister ones which were flagged to the in-house team.

ISO Images

Despite the terrifying threats, the show’s Saffron Barker is all smiles as she heads to the Strictly studio[/caption]

“Security were alerted and a concerted effort made to bump up protection. This includes the hiring of an external company made up mainly of ex-military personnel, and a weekly briefing ahead of the live show.

“The team also has an emergency number linking directly to police.”

Beaming celebs including Saffron Barker and Kelvin Fletcher, as well as pro dancers Katya Jones and AJ Pritchard, were seen leaving their hotel yesterday ahead of performing.

They then headed to Elstree studios, Herts, where plain-clothed security staff were stationed.

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Tensions have been heightened since AJ Pritchard was beaten up last year[/caption]

Celebs were assigned codenames in the security briefings, with a “safe location” identified if an incident occurs. All filming venues and staff have also been heavily checked while social media is being monitored.

Head judge Shirley Ballas was among those warned not to post their schedules online.

It was also suggested they get someone to house-sit on a Saturday night — to protect against criminals.

It comes less than three weeks after dancer Giovanni Pernice was temporarily blinded with pepper spray by robbers. Fellow dancer Pasha Kovalev was robbed of his phone in June while AJ was beaten up last year.

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A security source said: ‘Motsi has had death threats in Germany where she previously lived’[/caption]

Strictly’s love curse has also turned some stars into villains. Last year Katya — then-wed to fellow pro Neil — was pictured kissing celeb Seann Walsh, sparking a huge backlash.

A security source added: “The measures sound extreme but welfare is everyone’s number one concern.

“Motsi has had death threats in Germany where she previously lived and, whilst no specific threats have been made against her in the UK, this situation has been monitored.”

Celebs including Catherine Tyldesley, who is partnered with Johannes Radebe, were said to be “upbeat” despite the warnings. The source said: “It has brought them closer together.”

The BBC said: “We have extensive security measures in place to protect cast, crew and audience, and arrangements are reviewed on a regular basis.”

Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe on TV — proving the show must go on

ISO Images

Kelvin Fletcher seen leaving the hotel yesterday ahead of performing on Saturday’s show[/caption]

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Amy Dowden not showing any nerves as she grabs a hot drink on the way to perform on the live show[/caption]

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Giovanni Pernice seems to be taking a more low-profile approach as he emerges from the hotel[/caption]

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