The 20th series of the multi-award winning Strictly Come Dancing launched on BBC Brit on Sunday 2nd October at 19:00, once again bringing glitter, glamour and glorious dancing to homes across the nation.
We welcomed back our hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, along with judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke.
As well as revealing who our celebrities are paired with, the show opened with an eye-catching ballroom performance from our fabulous professional dancers, plus introduced our four new professionals, Lauren Oakley, Vito Coppola, Michelle Tsiakkas and Carlos Gu via a cinematic group number. John Legend also performed his new single ‘All She Wanna Do’.
Firstly, we saw five-time Paralympic gold medalist, Ellie Simmonds introduced to the dancefloor. When asked by Tess about what it meant to her to be representing people with dwarfism on Strictly, she said: “It means everything, to represent not just dwarfism but disability in general, for me to go out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before. Dancing is for all, yes, I’m going to have to adapt, I’m going to have to see what it’s like, but to be out there every Saturday night dancing… I’m so so proud.” After being paired with her partner, Nikita Kuzmin, he shared his ambitions, “For me, the goal for this season is for Ellie to have the best time of her life!”
Next up was KISS FMDJ, Tyler West. When asked about whether his Mum, a huge Strictly fan, was pleased with who he’d be partnered with, he answered, “Oh absolutely! I don’t actually think she’s come here tonight to see me; she’s come to see her!” We then saw him paired with his partner, Dianne Buswell, who quickly suggested the team moniker, ‘Team TyeDie’.
Then we saw actor and presenter, Kym Marsh, join Tess on the dancefloor. She admitted she knew all the Strictly professionals well due to them frequently appearing on Morning Live, which she presents. Kym was then paired with her professional dance partner, Graziano Di Prima, on the Morning Live set. Both were ecstatic with Kym admitting, “my stomach was churning, but I was delighted!”
Up next we had actor, Will Mellor, who revealed he had an unexpected connection to Anton, “I’ve seen Anton about because he lives near the same village as me, I saw him at the tip!” Anton admitted, “We love the tip! It’s so cleansing, my favourite place in the world!” After being partnered with professional dancer, Nancy Xu, he told Claudia how he thought they were perfectly paired, “We match well… I’m like an excitable puppy and so’s she!”
We then saw presenter, Helen Skelton, who was asked by Tess how she felt about facing Craig Revel Horwood. Helen responded, “I’ve got three little kids so I don’t think there’s any tantrum you can throw at me that I haven’t already seen.” When asked what was important for her in a dance partner she said, “They need to be fun, patient, they probably need to be good with dogs and kids and understand a Northern accent!” She was therefore delighted to discover she was paired with professional dancer Gorka Márquez.
Next up we saw Tess introduce EastEnders actor, James Bye, onto the dancefloor. When asked about his nerves he said, “For me, coming into the unknown is what’s scary, I’ve got zero dance experience… and then I met my dance partner, and he/she was amazing and completely made me feel at ease.” After being paired with professional partner Amy Dowden he added, “I’m so relieved and I couldn’t be happier, I feel like the winner already!”
It was then the turn of singer and presenter, Fleur East. When asked how she will manage doing Strictly and her Hits Radio Breakfast Show, she responded, “I’ve got six alarms that I set, because I snooze all of them. I’ll be up at 4.30am waking everyone up and then dancing at night!” After it was revealed that Fleur had been paired with professional partner Vito Coppola, Claudia asked Vito what sort of teacher he is, to which he responded, “behind this smile I’m very tough but I’m sure that she’s going to be alright because she’s a hard worker too!”
Next up we saw wildlife expert and presenter, Hamza Yassin, who revealed top of his Strictly wish list is to get a 10 from Craig. After he was paired with professional dancer partner Jowita Przystal she expressed her excitement, saying, “he is just fearless, I can see that, which is very helpful for me! He’s strong and he’s also patient, that’s really important. So, I just cannot wait to go and start rehearsals!”
We then saw singer, Matt Goss, who admitted he was ready to embrace being ‘strictyfied’, stating “I want to be rolled in sequins and glitter!” Matt was introduced to his professional dancer partner, Nadiya Bychkova at the 02 arena, who said, “I can’t wait to start teaching him and I can’t wait to start dancing with him.” Matt added, “I’m ready to put my heart and soul into this!”
Next up we saw Tess welcome comedian and actor, Ellie Taylor, to the dancefloor. Ellie admitted she was a show-off but caveated, “I like showing off at things I can do, this is awful!” Asked about her wish list for a partner she said, “it was Johannes, Johannes or Johannes”. She was therefore utterly thrilled when her professional dance partner was indeed revealed to be Johannes Radebe. Johannes said, “I’m really chuffed to be partnered with Ellie, meeting her has been joyous and to see her excited about the season ahead makes me excited!”
We then saw CBBC’s Molly Rainford meet herprofessional dance partner, Carlos Gu. A delighted Molly said, “I can’t wait to get dancing and get learning some stuff, I feel like it’s going to be electric!”. She did however reveal to Claudia that she’s not sure where her Dad’s loyalty lies when it comes to the voting, “Obviously he’s going to have to vote for me but if it was his choice, he’s a football fan, Tony Adams might get his vote.”
Next up was Radio 2 host, Richie Anderson, who admitted he had specific requirements for his partner, saying, “As the great 80s philosopher Sinitta said, ‘he’s got to be big and strong and enough to… whirl me around the dance floor!” Richie was paired with his professional dance partner, Giovanni Pernice, in the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show studio, exclaiming, “Could you get anyone better than Mr Giovanni? I feel like I’m the envy of the British public right now!” Giovanni was also pleased saying, “He’s got A LOT of energy, I’m very very happy!”
Up next was comedian and actor, Jayde Adams, who revealed that she is a Strictly superfan. After being asked if the show is living up to expectations so far she said, “I feel like it’s not real, I feel like someone made a Strictly themed birthday party and I’m in the middle of it!” She then was paired with professional dancer Karen Hauer. Jayde was delighted, saying, “Karen IS Strictly”, as was Karen,who said, “I’m absolutely excited, I have so many ideas, too many ideas, this is going to be a golden moment for me.”
Our penultimate celebrity to meet their professional partner was former England and Arsenal player, Tony Adams. When asked what he was looking for in a partner he revealed, “I want someone that’s talented, that’s a winner!” His wishes came true as he went to the pitch at Highbury Stadium, where he was paired with Katya Jones. Katya told him, “We’re going to tackle some dancing, we’re a team now, we’ll work together.”
Lastly we saw broadcaster, Kaye Adams who admitted she’d never done anything like this before, saying, “This is like walking to the North Pole in flip-flops for me!” She also told Craig, “I’m your early Christmas present, I’m the turkey with all the trimmings!” We then saw her paired with professional dancer, Kai Widdrington, with a delighted Kaye later saying, “Can I just say to Mrs Widdrington, you have done an amazing job with this guy, he’s such a lovely man, he really is, I’m so happy to be with Kai!”
At the end of the show, we saw our celebrities and professional dancers perform their first group number to finish the launch show in style, giving us our first sneak peek at the celebrities’ dancing skills. Strictly goes live tomorrow evening, when we will see each of our couples take to the dance floor for their first performances.