It’s finally here! Strictly season is in full swing for 2019, with our 15 celebs (met with a mixed reaction after they were announced) now partnered up with their pro dancers.
Head judge Shirley Ballas recently teased “the most unpredictable set of pairings in the show’s history” – and judging by who has landed who, she’s certainly not kidding.
But the line-up is full of nice surprises too, as a number of pro-dancers who have never managed to land themselves their own celebrities (we’re looking at you, Neil Jones) have now seen themselves bumped on to the main line-up.
While we usually have a fair idea of who’s going to take home the coveted Glitterball trophy, the new partnerships have thrown us all into a spin.
Could we about to see the most shocking Strictly yet?
Strictly Come Dancing 2019 partners
David James and Nadiya Bychkoba
James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk
This is Luba’s first time with a celeb partner after she joined the series last year. Being paired with a popular sports personality like James Cracknell could see her go far.
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara
With Paralympian Will Bayley being quite short in stature, it’s fair he’s paired with the petite Janette – who had some strong dances when she was paired with Jake Wood and Peter Andre. In more recent years, Janette has failed to make it into the final 10 – could Will be the one to change their luck?
Dev Griffin and Dianne
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
Katya is the queen of goofy choreography, making us cry with laughter when she was paired with Ed Balls (Gangnam Style will always haunt our dreams). But underneath the silliness is some seriously slick dancing, with the pro winning Strictly 2017 with Joe McFadden.
As she’s paired with prone-to-a-tumble Mike Bushell, we’re expecting a paddling pool in at least one routine, and nothing less.
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
Oti was originally paired with Jamie Laing – until Jamie’s injury forced him to withdraw from the programme. She’ll now be partnered with ex-Emmerdale actor Kelvin, who’ll join from Strictly’s first live show on Saturday 21st September.
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
Amy’s choreography really shone through last year, with her stellar jive with Danny-John Jules seeing them earn the first 10 of that series. Karim has been picked out by the other celebs as one to watch in the competition – could he be Amy’s ticket to her first final?
Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer
Karen has not had much luck with celebrity partners in more recent years, pulling out of Strictly in week four when she was partnered with Will Young in 2016, and leaving in week six when paired with Simon Rimmer the following year. She had better luck when she was paired with Charles Venn (but faced the dreaded bottom two four times) last year, but she’s yet to have someone as successful as her run with Mark Wright back in series 12. Could Chris Ramsey change that?
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard
Not much of a surprise, given that they’re both quite small (and AJ prematurely announced the news on The One Show). AJ has a proven track record as a pro dancer (and has reached the semi-finals on every series he’s been on), and Joe Sugg has shown even YouTuber’s can make the final. This couple could go all the way.
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
At first, these two are one of the more eyebrow-raising couples among the bunch – but sources from the BBC have told RadioTimes.com that Michelle is actually a really good dancer, with “good hip action.” With Giovanni having made the semi-finals for the last two years, with both Debbie McGee and Faye Tozer, Michelle’s footwork could see Giovanni score a hat-trick.
Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton
Another surprising couple. Given that Anneka called herself the “Anne Widdecombe” of the series, we immediately thought she’d be partnered with Anton. But with Kevin being so popular, we can see these two easily making the semi-finals. Perhaps Anneka should have called herself the “Susan Calman” of the series instead.
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke
Anton might actually be in the competition longer than five minutes this year, as he’s been partnered with someone who could be a real contender. Emma Barton has said she’s a hard worker, and, following a stint in Chicago in 2008, has “some musicality”. Could she break the real Strictly curse and get Anton past week one?
Alex Scott and Neil Jones
The heat is on for Neil, having finally landed himself a pro partner following three years on the sidelines. The spotlight is sure to be on this couple, with Neil being placed under greater scrutiny after his now ex-wife Katya kissed her partner Seann Walsh last year. With fans calling for Neil to receive his own partner for years, and with Alex Scott already being the bookies’ favourite, they’re likely to go far.
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
Having joined the show as a backing dancer last year, Johannes’s first partner is former Corrie star Catherine Tyldesley, who has been rumoured to be Strictly-bound for years.
Soap stars tend to do well on theBBC ballroom show, so we’re likely to see the pair make it at least to the half way mark.
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skorjanec
At five foot eight, Emma is one of the taller girls, so it makes sense for her to be teamed with the six foot tall Aljaz. Could she be able to replicate Aljaz’s success from his first ever series, where he won with the equally statuesque Abbey Clancy?
Strictly Come Dancing returns later this year on BBC 1