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

Here's everything you need to know about Strictly as the live shows kick off!

strictly-come-dancing

The time has finally come for the eagerly anticipated Strictly Come Dancing 2020 to get underway.

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The Strictly Come Dancing line-up of celebrities took to the dance floor for their first official routines with the Strictly Come Dancing professionals, having been partnered up in a pre-recorded launch show last weekend.

The sequinned-spectacular came back with a bang as HRVY topped the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard with his energetic Jive, which earned him the first nine of the series from judge Motsi Mabuse.

Maisie Smith also impressed the judges with her Samba, but the other end of the leaderboard saw a few underwhelming scores too.

Jacqui Smith found herself bottom of the table following her Foxtrot, while Jamie Laing struggled to impress with his Cha Cha.

As the series progresses towards its second week and the first elimination, here’s everything you need to know about the Strictly line-up of contestants, professionals, judges and how this year will look different to the previous ones.

Strictly Come Dancing start date

The Strictly Come Dancing live shows kicked off on BBC One on Saturday October 24th.

The 2020 series missed its original start date for a later premiere on Saturday 24th October due to the impact of the pandemic. It will 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

There are fewer celebrities in the Strictly line-up this year due to the shorter run time, but the 12 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 is now 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 is be part of the show’s first-ever same-sex pairing with her professional partner Katya Jones.

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.”

Speaking to press, including RadioTimes.com, 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
BBC

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?

There are a couple of big names absent from the list of professionals this year following Kevin Clifton’s exit and AJ Pritchard’s last-minute departure.

However, Gorka Marquez is now back in the main cast, having been left without a celebrity partner last year. He’s been paired up with EastEnders star Maisie Smith.

This year, the professionals are as follows:

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 are able to have close contact routines, meaning no dances will be off-limits – hooray!

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.

Bruno Tonioli is be absent from the Strictly panel, however, he will still play a part in the show.

While the US-based star is not judging the live shows (for now, at least) due to travel restrictions, he shares his thoughts on the routines via video link after all the contestants have performed on Saturday nights.

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

How will the show be different this year?

Lots of tweaks have been made to Strictly Come Dancing in order to ensure the show goes ahead safely.

Socially-distanced audience

There is a much smaller audience in the studio at the moment, all of whom are wearing masks and seated in socially distanced manner.

Dave Arch’s Band

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

Speaking to RadioTimes.com 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 started 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) features only 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 are 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 RadioTimes.com.

“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

The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 judges panel from 2019 is back, albeit without Bruno Tonioli.

Shirley Ballas has resumed her role as Head Judge. She is joined by Craig Revel-Horwood and Motsi Mabuse, who became part of the judging line-up last year.

Long-running host Tess Daly and co-host Claudia Winkleman back at the forefront to host the show for series 18, while Zoe Ball and Rylan Clark-Neal have also returned to present spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two.

Where is 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.

Sadly, however, Blackpool Week has had to be dropped this year due to the pandemic, meaning we won’t be seeing the line-up take to the iconic Blackpool Tower Ballroom floor.

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

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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.