The new series of the multi-award-winning Strictly Come Dancing, recently crowned Best Talent Show at the National Television Awards, premiered on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It once again brought glitter, glamour, and glorious dancing into homes across the nation.

Welcoming back the Hosts, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, alongside Judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Anton Du Beke.

In addition to revealing the celebrity pairings, the show kicked off with a captivating performance by the talented professional dancers, who also joined the Judges in a mesmerising routine, a spectacle unprecedented on the show.

The launch show paid a poignant tribute to the late Len Goodman, with Tess, Claudia, the Judges, and professional dancers reminiscing about the Ballroom legend.

Jessie Ware graced the stage with a rendition of ‘Free Yourself’, accompanied by a spectacular dance routine featuring Nadiya Bychkova, Johannes Radebe, Michelle Tsiakkas, and Neil Jones. Finally, the 2022 Strictly champions Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystał showcased their week 4 Salsa from the previous series, reminding the audience of their well-deserved victory.

Hamza said: “Strictly was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, it’s changed my life, and taught me so much about myself, and I thought already knew myself pretty well”.

Firstly, we saw Amanda Abbington paired with her partner Giovanni Pernice. After being paired, and asked by Claudia how happy she was, Amanda said “I’m ecstatic, we get on really well, same sense of humour ,and dedicated to working hard”. When asked about Amanda’s reaction to the reveal, her partner Giovanni replied: “That was a reaction, I have to be honest… and also there was screaming that I enjoyed very much… very very happy days.”

Next up was Zara McDermott, and when asked about how she was feeling Zara said “I think I’m probably the most nervous I’ve been in my life. I’m not a natural born performer or extrovert, so this is the biggest challenge of my life!” After being paired with Graziano Di Prima, he said to Zara: ‘The sky is the limit! Be positive all the way” Graziano then revealed to Zara the their first dance will the Cha Cha Cha!’

Then we saw Jody Cundy CBE paired with reigning Strictly champion Jowita Przystał. When asked by Tess: “You are an eight time gold medal winning Paralympian. You started off swimming, then you made the switch to cycling so I’m thinking Strictly easy peasy for you?! Jody replied: ‘I’d like to think so, but I don’t think it’s going to be. I’m a complete newbie at this, I had years and years of practice at the other ones so we’ll see what happens…let’s shoot for the stars!’. After the pairing Jowita admitted she was nervous: “I need to admit I’m actually a bit nervous because I don’t want to let him down, but I have a lot of ideas”.

Being paired next was Krishnan Guru-Murthy who was paired with professional dancer Lauren Oakley. He was extremely pleased and said, “oh it’s brilliant and she gets me immediately”. This will be Lauren’s first time having a celebrity partner and she followed up with “It might be the first time that I’m partnered with somebody, but I know it’s a big ask for the celebrities to go out there and dance. So I think I need to be kind and give you confidence to have fun, but when it’s time to be strict I know how to be strict, don’t worry about that!”.

Next it was Angela Rippon CBE’s turn to be paired. Tess said, “Angela, ripping up the dancefloor – we can’t wait for that can we?! 32 years after presenting Come Dancing, how does it feel to be on the other side?”. Angela responded: “It’s weird not being in your place and being in this place, but I’m going to enjoy it I think, yes!”. Angela was paired with Kai Widdrington and said of the pairing “When I saw it was Kai I couldn’t have been happier I promise you”. Kai said, “I am absolutely delighted to have Angela, I think we are going to be fabulous.”

Then it was over to Layton Williams, who was paired with Nikita Kuzmin and together they formed this series’ all-male pairing. When talking about the partnership Layton said “He is going to whip me into shape, and keep me on the straight and narrow because I do like to think I know what I am doing and do the most, but I really don’t have a clue!”

Claudia said to Nikita that Layton has previous dance experience, “Do you unpick that or do you build on it?”. Nikita responded, “Ballroom and Latin are completely different to anything Layton has done so far, the technique, posture and especially the coordination is completely different, he has a lot to learn and I can’t wait to teach him”.

After that, it was Nigel Harman’s moment, and he was paired with Katya Jones. Claudia told Nigel that Katya could be quite strict and asked if he was ready. Nigel replied, “Everyone keeps telling me this and every time they tell me this I get more and more terrified, but I am pretending I’m really calm about it.” When asked about what Katya has in store for Nigel, she said “Ideas will come as we get to know each other”.

Now, it was Bobby Brazier’s turn to meet his professional partner for the series, and Dianne Buswell revealed herself on the set of EastEnders. Bobby said, “I am so pleased!” Dianne explained: “I am so happy I have already adopted Bobby as my little brother, and I already care so much about him, I just want him to have the best time ever.”

The pairings continued and we then saw comedian Eddie Kadi paired with longest serving Professional Karen Hauer. Eddie said, “She’s a little bit like kryptonite… she’s got a sound ‘ta ta’, when you get something a little bit wrong ‘ta ta’. I’m like oh my God, I’ve got to get used to ‘ta ta”. Karen said, “He will be cracking the jokes, but I’m going to be cracking the whip”.

Annabel Croft was then paired on Wimbledon’s centre court with Johannes Radebe. On the pairing she said, “I’ve got the best partner I could possibly have wished for, honestly he’s so special, you really are so special, it’s such an honour and a privilege to be dancing with you, thank you.” When Claudia asked about Johannes’ plans for the first week, he told Annabel “I am going to take you through your paces my darling but the most important thing is that we are going to have fun”.

Actor Ellie Leach was then paired with Vito Coppola. When asked by Claudia about her pairing she said “I’m over the moon that Vito is my partner, honestly I’m so excited I think we are going to have so much fun”. Vito said, “I am just going to have the best time with Ellie, I want to have the best journey and have fun”. Vito revealed that they would be performing a sparkling Jive to which Ellie replied “Oh no, that’s really a hard, Jive!”.

Actor Adam Thomas had been patiently waiting to find out who his partner was, and it was revealed to be Luba Mushtuk. Discussing the pairing he said “I’m loving life… what is not to love? I’m on Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve got this Russian princess, I’m buzzing, absolutely over the moon” Luba continued “I’ve never been this happy… so I am extremely excited and cannot wait to dance with you” When asked by Claudia how much he is looking forward to learning how to dance, Adam replied, “I can’t wait… this is why we do this show, it’s to learn how to dance.”

Next up, TV Presenter Angela Scanlon was paired with Carlos Gu, and said “Thank you universe… I think Carlos will be able to teach me, he is direct… I feel like there is a directness that I might respond to, like brutal honesty that Carlos has.” Claudia asked Carlos if this is going to be the year he won and he replied “Oh yes I have made a better plan and we are going for the Glitterball… we’ll do it one step at a time, no rush”.

The penultimate pairing was Nikita Kanda and Gorka Marquez. She revealed her family’s reaction to her taking part in the show: “My mum cried… she was so happy, it’s made everyone feel good and have a bit of a smile on their face”. When asked about her dancing skills by Claudia, Nikita said “I am a party animal but when it comes to choreography that’s what I’m here to learn… I need to learn some new skills, I’m just like one arm up in the air”. Gorka said, “even if it doesn’t go right, don’t lose the confidence, always believe in yourself, I believe in you already and it’s going to be great!”. He went on to reveal their first dance will be the Waltz and their team name is Gorkita.

The final pairing of the launch show was for Les Dennis, who said “I love a challenge… this is the biggest challenge ever, I am so excited about it, I can’t wait”. It was then revealed that he was partnered up with Nancy Xu. When commenting on the pairing he said “I am so happy… as soon as I met Nancy I knew I could learn from her, she is a great teacher and she is so enthusiastic”. Nancy said, “I am so excited and actually we have already started”. Les revealed that Nancy is teaching him to dance and he is teaching her to speak ‘Scouse’.

As the show concluded, the celebrities and professional dancers united for their inaugural group performance, culminating the launch show with finesse and offering a tantalising glimpse of the celebrities’ dancing prowess.

Strictly goes live on Saturday 23 September from 6.15pm, when you will witness each couple taking to the dance floor for their inaugural performances.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 23 September at 6.15pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.