Strictly Come Dancing to launch on Saturday 17th October

Head judge Shirley Ballas has confirmed the launch date for Strictly.

Shirley Ballas - Who Do You Think You Are?

Head judge Shirley Ballas has confirmed that the launch show for Strictly Come Dancing 2020 will screen on BBC One on Saturday, 17th October and the first live show will screen on Saturday, 24th October.

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Ballas confirmed the start dates on Thursday’s edition of The One Show.

She said: “We’re all ready to go and everything is in place. We’ve got a great cast. It’s very very exciting as we go into these dark months. We’ve got baubles, bangles and beads… and lots of joy.”

Ballas commented on Strictly Come Dancing 2020 featuring its first same-sex couple, with former Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams to be paired with a female professional.

“I’m so excited about that and I’d really urge the viewers to look with an open mind,” she said. “Two men have danced together on Broadway, different shows, two women. I had a little girl partner myself. I feel like it’s movement to music with great technique.”

The decision on which of the women would lead would be up to the professional and she added that there were many different ways of dancing together: “shadowing”, “side by side” and “opposite” techniques.

“It would be up to the creativity of the woman who dances with Nicola,” said Ballas.

She added that she thought the pairing was going to be a highlight of this series.

BBC presenter Graham Norton apologised this week after making a “throwaway” comment questioning the need to have same-sex couples on the show.

He tweeted: “Oh God. This is entirely my own fault. Ages ago gave a throwaway comment to a journalist who wanted me to slag off Strictly. Clever clogs remembered and now look!! So sorry”

Strictly announced recently that it would return with a “reduced audience” in the studio for the competition and Strictly Come Dancing tickets have been allocated to groups of four to allow fans to come along as a family bubble or household group.

Producers, cast and crew have been operating under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, which has allowed the jewel in BBC One’s autumn crown to go ahead, albeit reduced from its usual 13-week run to nine weeks.

The Strictly Come Dancing professionals started rehearsals in July for their group performances, which required them to isolate in one big bubble for two weeks.

There was a further isolation period with the professionals and the 12 celebrities after that, to allow the pairs to have close-contact routines as normal.

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While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight, or check out our guide to new TV shows 2020 to find out what’s airing this autumn and beyond.