‘Dancing With The Stars’ Gets New Showrunner For Season 26, ‘X Factor’ Producer Shakes Up All-Athletes Season

Eric McCandlessABC

Dancing with the Stars is changing things up for its upcoming 26th season. The long-running ABC celebrity ballroom competition will see a major shake-up for Season 26 with a new showrunner and a new focus. Veteran reality TV producer Andrew Llinares will take over as showrunner for the new all-athletes season of Dancing with the Stars, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Llinares has an impressive reality resume. He launched both the British and U.S. versions of The X Factor as well as Britain’s Got Talent. The British reality shows kicked off the careers of One Direction and Susan Boyle. Llinares was also the executive producer of Pop Idol, which paved the way for the U.S. show American Idol, so he definitely knows a thing or two about producing a hit.

Now, Llinares has set his sights on shaking up the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars. The ABC dance-off will return next month with an abbreviated four-week season comprised completely of athletes, but that’s not the only changes viewers will see. Describing DWTS as one of ” the largest scale shows on television,” the new showrunner teased “ambitious ideas” that he plans to bring to life.

“The challenge is to find a way to hold on to the key values of the show while moving it forward while keeping current and fresh,” Llinares said of DWTS.

“It’s definitely about evolution rather than revolution. Story and emotion are absolutely key for me…I want us to find ways to make the stories on the show even more compelling and the emotional connection which the viewer has to the performances, even stronger. I also want us to come up with ideas that surprise and excite the viewers every week so that they keep coming back for more.”

With the upcoming all-athletes season of Dancing with the Stars, Llinares predicts “an intensity and level of competition that we may never have seen before on the show.” With only four weeks to work with, instead of the usual 10, the new Dancing with the Stars showrunner will have this work cut out for him.

There is no doubt that athletes have an edge on Dancing with the Stars, so it will be interesting to see a cast made up entirely of athletes for the new season of the show. In the past 25 past seasons of Dancing with the Stars, 10 athletes have gone on to win the mirrorball trophy, including NFL stars Emmitt Smith (Season 3), Hines Ward (Season 12), Donald Driver (Season 14), and Rashad Jennings (Season 24). In addition, three Olympic skaters have been DWTS champs—speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno (Season 4) and figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6) and Meryl Davis (Season 18)—as well as gymnasts Shawn Johnson (Season 8) and Laurie Hernandez (Season 23). And in Season 5, race car driver Helio Castroneves was crowned the mirrorball champion.

The cast announcement for Dancing with the Stars’ all-athletes season will be revealed during the week of April 9.

Dancing with the Stars all-athletes season premieres Monday, April 30 on ABC.