Strictly will bench two of the new professional dancers

With 15 celebrities and 17 pros it's the new dancers, rather than returning regulars like Anton Du Beke and Karen Clifton, who are set to find themselves without a celebrity partner for the 2016 run

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Strictly Come Dancing will bench two of its six new professional dancers this year, RadioTimes.com understands. 

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This year’s full line-up will include 15 celebrities (of which ten have so far been confirmed). And with a 17-strong pro list already announced, that means two will be left without a famous dance partner. 

AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt, Neil Jones, Oksana Platero, Katya Jones and Gorka Marquez were announced as the new pros last month. And while it seems somewhat party pooping to bring in new professionals only for them to be discounted from having a full-time celebrity to train up, sources close to the show argue that the alternative was not an option.

“They’re not going to put Anton on the bench are they? Or Brendan or Aljaz,” a source told RadioTimes.com. Quite. Feathers (or should that be rhinestones?) would certainly be ruffled if a fan-favourite wasn’t included in the main show, especially with so many professionals having exited ahead of this 14th run, in the form of Ola Jordan, Kristina Rhianoff, Gleb Savchenko, Aliona Vilani and Tristan MacManus. 

And as far as those close to the show are concerned, it’s not about being ‘benched’ anyway. As well as standing by should a competing pro get injured, the two professionals will have recurring spots as ballroom experts on spin-off show It Takes Two (as Joanne Clifton did last year) and will also perform in the group professional dances on the main show. A place on the festive edition of the show usually follows, too.

“The show doesn’t see it as putting people on the bench at all,” the source insisted. “It’s a case of having enough people to cover everything as the show gets bigger. There’s more and more stuff for them to do. They’ll still be part of the family. There’ll be no ‘you’re a substitute’ or anything like that. 

“It’s a nice introduction to the show. It’s one big happily family. Even when people get eliminated the still keep going back to watch it. Everyone that didn’t make it to Blackpool, for example, went anyway. Jeremy Vine went last year. Alison Hammond the year before that.

“The point is when they’ve gone, it doesn’t mean they’re gone – in the same way that if they don’t have a professional partner it doesn’t mean that they’re not as important. It means the dance numbers are going to be even more spectacular than they were before because there’s going to be more options, more people to choose from, more people on the dance floor.

“It’s a way for viewers to get to know the new pro dancers.”

As for those waiting to find out if they’re getting a partner or not, it looks like it’s time to cross those fingers and toes…

Ed Balls, Will Young, Anastacia, Louise Redknapp, Laura Whitmore and Melvin Odoom are among the contestants confirmed so far by the BBC

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Strictly Come Dancing’s launch night will air on Saturday 3rd September