Strictly Come Dancing 2020 start time: Your guide as the show returns

Here's everything you need to know as the show returns for another series.


It’s official: Strictly Come Dancing is back, and it’s only going to get bigger and better from here on.


This year’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up have all waltzed onto the dance floor for the 18th series of the BBC One show, the contest launching with a pre-recorded instalment on 17th October.

As viewers of the opening episode saw, new social distancing guidelines has meant it’s possible for Strictly to go ahead as normal, but with no Strictly audience. There are also a few other tweaks to the show’s format, including the need for judges for sit two metres apart (see more on that below).

One of the contestants this year, Jamie, has admitted he’s feeling the pressure from Kelvin Fletcher’s win last year, and he’s hoping being partnered with Oti Mabuse will help him get to the finals.

They’ll be joined by EastEnders star Maisie Smith, who has said her “hips don’t lie” and has got some of the contestants (ahem, HRVY) feeling a little worried.

Also in the Strictly Come Dancing line-up is boxer Nicola Adams, radio presenter Clara Amfo, and Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh, who has had lots of advice from her co-stars.

Now this year’s celebs have found out which Strictly Come Dancing professionals they’re partnered with, we’ll get to see them in action together on October 24th when the live shows air.

Taking on the much-coveted Glitterball this year is comedian Bill Bailey, and returning star Jamie Laing, who is eager to stay in the competition after having to drop out last year due to a leg injury.

But which professional dancer is each celebrity paired with? And how will this year’s show differ from previous contests? We take a look at the Strictly Come Dancing 18th series.

When does Strictly Come Dancing start?

The Strictly Come Dancing launched on BBC on 17th October. The series will resume with its first live show on 24th October.

It was confirmed by head judge Shirley Ballas that the show will miss its usual start date in September for a later premiere on Saturday 24th October and continue until 19th December, the weekend before Christmas.

That means that Strictly 2020 will clock in at just nine weeks in length, a significant reduction from the usual 13.

Strictly Come Dancing 2020 contestants

The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 line-up is now complete, with all 12 dancers confirmed to take part.

There are fewer celebrities this year due to the shorter run time, but the confirmed contestants are:

All eyes were on Jamie Laing after he pulled out of the competition early last year. During the 2019 launch show, he injured himself and had to withdraw from the show.

Jamie Laing Strictly (BBC)
Jamie Laing has returned to Strictly for season 18

Although his space was filled by Kelvin Fletcher, many suspected he’d be given another shot on the show.

The Made In Chelsea star has now been confirmed for the 18th series, and he’s hoping to make this one a success!

Speaking of his Strictly signing, he said: “Here we go again, hopefully this time I can last long enough so my mum can see me dance.”

He added: “The reason I’m doing it, is to make my mum proud but all I did last year was make her even more disappointed. Let’s change that this year, can’t wait!!”

Former boxer Nicola Adams will be part of the show’s first-ever same-sex pairing.

The 36-year-old confirmed the news, after she was announced as the sixth celeb to join the show.

She said: “I also wanted to thank the BBC for supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing; and it’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”

Karen Hauer previously suggested she would like to be in a same-sex couple. She told The Sun on Sunday: “It’s a beautiful way to showcase emotion on stage and I’d definitely like to do it. I’ve danced with women a lot over the years, so I feel very comfortable about it.”

Speaking to press, including, Ranvir recently revealed the warning Susanna Reid has given her ahead of the dancing show.

She said: “Susanna keeps saying to me in like a really sensible tone, ‘Ranvir you have no idea what’s about to happen.’ She’s like, ‘You have no idea and it’s like a whirlwind.’”

Strictly Come Dancing's Ranvir Singh
Ranvir Singh

Similarly, politician Jacqui Smith – who is also in the 2020 line-up – has been seeking advice from a former contestant.

Jacqui Smith revealed the tips her pal and fellow politician Ed Balls has given her as she takes on the Glitterball.

Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings

Here are which professional dancers this year’s celebrities are paired up with…

  • Jamie Laing is paired with Karen Hauer
  • HRVY is paired with Janette Manrara
  • Jacqui Smith is paired with Anton du Beke
  • Maisie Smith is paired with Gorka Márquez
  • JJ Chalmers is paired with Amy Dowden
  • Bill Bailey is paired with Oti Mabuse
  • Nicola Adams is paired with Katya Jones
  • Clara Amfo is paired with Clara Amfo
  • Ranvir Singh is paired with Ranvir Singh
  • Max George is paired with Dianne Buswell
  • Jason Bell is paired with Luba Mushtuk
  • Caroline Quentin is paired with Johannes Radebe

Who are the professionals returning for Strictly 2020?

We now know who the Strictly Come Dancing 2020 professionals will be this year. Surprisingly, there’s been a couple of big names missing following Kevin Clifton’s exit and AJ Pritchard’s last-minute departure. It’s currently unknown whether they will be replaced.

However, Oti Mabuse’s husband, Romanian dancer Marius Lepure, has reportedly joined the cast as one of the professional backing dancers, who will take part in the group performances only.

This year, the professionals are as follows:

  • Aljaž Škorjanec
  • Anton Du Beke
  • Giovanni Pernice
  • Graziano Di Prima
  • Gorka Marquez
  • Johannes Radebe
  • Amy Dowden
  • Dianne Buswell
  • Janette Manrara
  • Karen Hauer
  • Katya Jones
  • Luba Mushtuk
  • Nadiya Bychkova
  • Nancy Xu
  • Oti Mabuse
  • Neil Jones

The Strictly Come Dancing professionals started rehearsals in July for their group performances – to make this happen, they had to isolate in one big bubble for two weeks.

After that, there was further isolation with the professionals and the celebrities in order to create more isolation bubbles.

As a result of this, acts will be able to have close contact routines, meaning no dances will be off-limits – hooray!

The BBC’s Charlotte Moore previously revealed that there was “a lot of work” being done behind the scenes to make the show possible.

She told The Times: “We’re looking at how that would work. Could you quarantine people? Can we test everyone before filming? There’s a lot of work being done. It’s a big task.”

And with the new changes, it sounds like it’s finally coming to life. We can’t wait!

Is Bruno leaving Strictly Come Dancing?

Strictly Come Dancing Bruno Tonioli

No. Well, not really. Earlier this year, it was revealed Bruno Tonioli wouldn’t be taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing in the same way he usually does.

It has now been confirmed that Bruno will be absent from the live panel, however, he will still play a part in the show.

What that means is that he will be absent from the Saturday night live shows as he currently resides in America and the travel restrictions in place mean he couldn’t pop between countries as he has done before.

However, that doesn’t mean we’ll be completely Bruno-less this year. We’ve been told by the BBC he will be Zooming in for a chat on a Sunday evening for the results show.

And the best news of all? Strictly are currently planning on his return towards the end of the show. All is not lost!

But will Bruno be replaced? Though no official announcement has been made, we’ve had rumours along the lines of Cheryl and Stacey Dooley.

How will the show be different this year?

Reports have suggested this year’s show will be a little different to previous years, with lots of tweaks being made to ensure the show goes ahead safely.

No audience

According to The Sun, this includes a practically empty ballroom, with a source claiming that it would be “impossible to safely socially distance audience members” in the studio.

The source said: “The current plan is no audience, which will inevitably affect the show. They are the energy in the room, and dancing in an empty room is like dancing in a training room. It’s a different intensity and pressure.

“But Elstree is a very cosy set-up, where it will be impossible to safely socially distance audience members. So for now, with the current rules, it’s a ‘no’ to anyone watching.

“Everything in terms of people is being scaled back dramatically. There will be less security because there’s no audience to control. Anyone deemed non-essential is a goner.”

Dave Arch’s Band

A fab-u-lous stalwart of Strictly Come Dancing’s many years, the Dave Arch’s Band WILL be appearing in this year’s show. However, they’ll be fewer musicians in the studio than previously.

Speaking to and other press, Strictly executive producer Sarah James said: “There will of course be some differences. We aren’t able to fit the whole band in the pit, so some of them will record during the week. But Dave will be there, the singers will be there, and a few other key members will be there.”

Fewer celebrities

Strictly fans may have noticed that rather than waltzing onto the TV schedules in September, this year’s competition is starting a month later. That’s because the 2020 contest features fewer celebrities.

While the 2019 series saw 15 celebrities battle for the glitterball trophy, this series (the show’s 18th) will only feature 12 contestants.

The post-dance interviews

Remember how after facing the judges’ critiques contestants would swan up the stairs to be greeted by their fellow celebs in the ‘Clauditorium’? That isn’t happening this year.

Due to social distancing requirements, only one couple at a time will be permitted in this area to be interviewed by Claudia Winkleman.

Contestants could be eliminated if they test positive for coronavirus

 In previous years, contestants who fall ill haven’t necessarily been forced to pull out of the contest. For instance, after Coronation Street actress Tina O’Brien was unable to perform after coming down with chickenpox in 2010, she was given a bye into the next week.

However, any contestant that tests positive for coronavirus during the 2020 contest will be automatically eliminated from the contest.

“Unfortunately if you receive a positive test, that means you wouldn’t be able to continue in the competition,” executive producer Sarah James previously told

“Obviously with government guidelines, if you receive a positive test you have to isolate for two weeks and that would unfortunately rule them out of the show.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2020 judges

Strictly Come Dancing judges
Strictly Come Dancing judges

There hasn’t yet been any official word on who will be part of the Strictly Come Dancing 2020 judges panel, but it would be safe to assume the 2019 panel will be back.

With that being said, we can expect to see Shirley Ballas resume her role as Head Judge. She will probably be joined by Craig Revel-Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, who have judged since the very beginning.

Last year, Motsi Mabuse joined the judging line-up and after making her mark, it looks like she will be going nowhere.

A couple of times a season, Bruno has been replaced by Alfonso Ribeiro while he fulfils other duties in the States.

Long-running host Tess Daly and co-host Claudia Winkleman are likely to return to host the show for series 18, while Zoe Ball and Rylan Clark-Neal are also likely to be back on spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two.

Where will Strictly Come Dancing 2020 be filmed?

Since 2013, the Strictly Come Dancing filming location has remained the same, in Elstree Studios, following the closure of BBC Television Centre.

There’s one week every year we all look forward to – Blackpool – where the cast and crew pack their bags and head north to the seaside town for a glitter-filled special.

It’s currently unknown whether this will change on account of the pandemic, but we have already heard rumours that Blackpool Week could be axed to aid with social distancing guidelines – though as of August 2020, Blackpool will still be going ahead.

Who won Strictly Come Dancing last year?

There has been a whopping 17 Strictly Come Dancing winners, and every year we get more and more surprised by the talented celebrities.

Last year was no different, as Kelvin Fletcher stormed to victory with professional partner, Motsi Mabuse. The former Emmerdale star had to replace Jamie Laing last minute and impressed the judges and viewers alike.

Strictly, Kelvin and Oti (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing 2019 winners, Kelvin and Oti

Read more about Strictly Come Dancing


Strictly Come Dancing live shows starts on BBC One on October 24th. To find out what else is on in the meantime, check out our TV Guide.