Strictly Come Dancing creator paid only £4,000 by BBC for show

She was also given a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne but no on-screen credit

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Being the creator of an insanely popular TV show doesn’t always pay, it turns out. Fenia Vardanis was reportedly only given £4,000, some chocolates and a bottle of champagne for inventing the BBC’s hugely successful Strictly Come Dancing.

The 52-year-old, who at the time was a middle ranking executive at the BBC, told The Sunday Times that she had come up with the idea in 2003 during a commissioning meeting.

“I suddenly said, wouldn’t it be funny if we did [a] Celebrity [version of] Come Dancing. I [later] came up with the title, suggested Bruce [Forsyth] and the judges.”

Remarkably, Vardanis has not received any royalties for the show even though it is more commercially successful than Top Gear and has been licensed to 53 territories.

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Simon and Kristina performed The Foxtrot to ‘My Guy’ by Mary Wells and The Samba to ‘I Like To Move It’ by Reel 2 Real this weekend at Strictly Come Dancing

“In those days there were annual staff bonuses and I didn’t get anything extraordinary,” she added. “I got a staff bonus which I probably would have got anyway.

“The only thing I got was a bottle of Champagne from BBC Worldwide. I also got a box of chocolates which spelt the words Strictly Fantastic and I’m not saying this in a bitter or twisted way at all. The champers and the chocolates were very nice.”

As a commissioner at the BBC, Vardanis was not allowed to have a credit because “it would look as if I was commissioning my own show.”

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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing

While the show may have gone on to be a massive success, apparently at the time no one thought it would do well.

“At the time, I promise you, everybody thought it would be a horrendous flop so it was a risk – I mean ballroom dancing on a Saturday night?”

Vardanis left the BBC in 2005 to start up her own production company, MelinaMedia. Last year’s Strictly was won by Caroline Flack.

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