Strictly Come Dancing 2017 launch show – as it happened

Take a look back at the first Strictly show of 2017, when we saw the pro dancers paired with their celebrities - and there were plenty of tears

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So that’s it until the 23rd September, when the Strictly live shows kick off and officially take over every Saturday night until Christmas.

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For a handy guide to who’s dancing with who, take a look at our list of the Strictly 2017 couples. And if you’re wondering which of the celebrities is in with a chance of winning, Joanne Clifton is on hand with her RadioTimes.com blog to give you the lowdown.

For now, the couples will be heading to the training room to get to know each other – and learn to dance. The pro dancers will be trying to mold their celebrity partners into ballroom champions and Latin superstars, and the judges will be dusting off their number paddles, and Tess and Claudia will be huddled in a room somewhere brainstorming their next skit. Can’t wait.

Until then – keeeeeep dancing!


8.32 The official class of Strictly 2017 is here to show us what they can do in the Strictly group dance. It’s… uh… it’s a little messy (Simon Rimmer and Charlotte Hawkins are definitely dancing out of time, and Debbie McGee seems to have forgotten a couple of the moves) but it’s clear they’re having SO MUCH FUN.

Just look at Susan Calman’s face. Look at Richard Coles striking a pose. Wonderful.


8.25 Holby City star Joe McFadden gets Katya Jones, who seems genuinely excited after her Ed Balls experience last year. “What I lack in ability I make up for in enthusiasm,” Joe says.

Oti Mabuse is paired with Jonnie Peacock. But despite being a Paralympic champion, Jonnie seems pretty uncertain about his dancing abilities: he revealed that his Strictly expectations were “so low” that he already didn’t think he was going to make the final.

Then there’s entertainer Brian Conley who gets the final pro dancer left out on the dance floor: Amy Dowden. “I’ve always wanted to dance with – what’s your name again?” he jokes. And that’s it for the class of 2017!

Strictly Come Dancing Cast 2017

8.20 After a decent Rita Ora performance, it’s time for behind-the-scenes footage from Strictly bootcamp. Let the training commence! This is our first proper look at how these celebs can actually move. Who has rhythm and who has two left feet?

Brian Conley looks like he’s struggling a bit (and pulling some excellent funny faces). Otherwise everyone looks promising: Davood, Mollie and Aston in particular seem to be picking it up quickly.


8.11 After all that build-up, thank goodness they put Susan Calman with the pro dancer she actually wanted (either that or she’s a very good actress). It’s Kevin Clifton, and she’s so pleased she actually starts blubbing. “I’m really sorry, I’m doing an Ore,” she says. (“Doing an Ore” being Strictly shorthand for “crying a lot”).

Kevin: “It’s good, he won.”

Explaining her emotion, Susan explains: “I’ve dreamt of dancing with Kevin. I’m so sorry. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.” She even has a poster of him on the fridge – hopefully he’s flattered rather than creeped out.

That leaves Alexandra Burke with the final male pro dancer, Gorka Marquez. She seems happy enough.


8.07 Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins gets veteran dancer Brendan Cole. He won the first ever series of Strictly in 2004 with Natasha Kaplinsky – could this be his chance to triumph again?  

Mollie King pairs up with AJ Pritchard – sure to be a popular coupling.

Strictly Come Dancing Mollie King AJ Pritchard

8.04 The pro dancers sail around the dance floor with a ballroom routine to Fly Me To The Moon – and the audience members are on their feet.

Tess, who worked most closely with Bruce as his co-presenter, breaks down as she sends a message to his family: “Everyone at Strictly is thinking of you.” She adds: “Didn’t he do well?”


7.59 What an uplifting tribute to the late Bruce Forsyth. Fond memories from Len and Bruce and Craig and Tess and Darcey with some great anecdotes – and some replays of those terrible jokes. “It’s incredibly odd to think that he’s not still around,” says Darcey. “But I bet he’s watching.”


7.54 Oh YES it’s that jive again. Last year’s champions Joanne Clifton and Ore Oduba are back with Runaway Baby. Remember they actually performed this in week four  – so which of this year’s celebrities will be up to that standard when week four comes around?

Ore’s advice to this year’s line up: “It’s going to be the best experience of your life” – but “listen to your partner”. Also “don’t cry all of the time”, although that didn’t seem to do him any harm last year.

Jo Clifton and Ore Oduba jive to Runaway Baby
Jo Clifton and Ore Oduba jive to Runaway Baby (BBC)

7.49 Well hello, Shania Twain. But a missed opportunity here: why not sing That Don’t Impress Me Much? It would be the perfect song for Craig Revel Horwood.


7.46 Sunday Brunch host Simon Rimmer will be going all-out. “There’s nothing that I’m going to hold back on. I want the spray tan, I want the lycra, I want the extravagant outfits,” he says. With Karen Clifton as his partner he will definitely be working hard!


7.43 “Obviously with my smoldering sensuality I am going to take to the Latin like a duck to water,” Rev. Richard Coles says. He gets one of the newbies, professional dancer Dianne Buswell.

Also paired up with a newbie is EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami, who gets Nadiya Bychkova. Davood says his signature dance move is “clapping”, which definitely don’t count – but we do have a feeling he’s underestimating himself.


7.39 It’s the men’s turn to be put out of their misery and finally told who they’ll be dancing with. First up is JLS star Aston Merrygold who is “honestly looking for the shortest partner”. Luckily he gets Janette Manrara, who is the perfect height. And she’s so light that he can lift her straight up in the air, which bodes well.

Strictly Come Dancing Aston Janette

7.29 Time to meet Shirley Ballas! “My judging style will be no nonsense,” she says. She reveals herself as a stickler for footwork, and if Craig is a 10 for strictness, she promises to be an 11, so it sounds like there will be a Strictly strict-off.

It also looks like she’s decided to assert dominance over Bruno Tonioli early on by taking over as arm-waver-in-chief, as well as Head Judge. A clever move.

shirley arms

7.26 Ruth Langsford gets Anton Du Beke, and the This Morning host is so delighted she escapes Tess’ clutches and runs across the dance floor to leap into his arms. What about husband Eamonn? “I hope he’s horribly jealous.”


7.22 Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice – both seem delighted. And Chizzy with Pasha! That even merits a dramatic floor slide. “I want to apologise in advance, because I am going to work you,” says Chizzy, promising to look after her partner as much as he looks after her.


7.19 Here we go with Gemma Atkinson! She’s looking for a partner she can “have a laugh with” and “get the job done with”. And it’s  Aljaž! They both seem pleased – thumbs up from Aljaz as he runs up the stairs.


7.12 Feels quite weird not having Len Goodman walking out onto the dance floor with all the other judges. No more walnut pickling for us, no more tens from Len, no sev-ENs!

But new Head Judge Shirley Ballas seems pretty promising. “I’ve seen it all”, she warns the celebrities, so to impress her you’ll have to show her something different.


7.09 Lots to look forward to in this launch show! A full one hour and 40 minutes of Strictly magic. Of course there will be the Bruce Forsyth tribute later on, so have your tissues at the ready.


7.06 Wonderful start with a Top Hat-inspired red carpet dance. Just a reminder of how talented Strictly’s pro dancers really are.

strictly

7.03 First mention of Brucie, whose absence will be felt as we kick off the 15th series – even if he’s not hosted for the last few years. “We’ve got to do him proud,” says Claudia Winkleman.


7.01 Here we go! With a skit, of course. Fake tan gags, Craig refusing to pick up his 10 paddle…


7.00 It’s time for Strictly Come Dancing 2017! Grab a mug of tea and curl up on the couch because BBC1’s flagship show has returned in all its glittery glory.

Before we get started, here’s a reminder about who’s starring in Strictly 2017 and this year’s pro dancer line-up. Who will be paired up with who? Tonight’s the night we find out.

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Of course we’re all itching to see new head judge Shirley Ballas in action. It sounds like she’ll be pretty tough: she has already warned the contestants to “pull your socks up”. Viewers can also expect an emotional tribute to the late Sir Bruce Forsyth, so have those tissues at the ready.