As the multi-award-winning Strictly Come Dancing makes its return to BBC One and BBC iPlayer, hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman extend a warm welcome to our celebrity contestants onto the Strictly dancefloor, once again bringing glitter, glamour, and glorious dancing to homes across the nation.

The celebrities gracing our screens this year are Adam Thomas, Annabel Croft, Amanda Abbington, Angela Rippon, Angela Scanlon, Bobby Brazier, Eddie Kadi, Ellie Leach, Jody Cundy, Krishnan Guru Murthy, Layton Williams, Les Dennis, Nigel Harman, Nikita Kanda, and Zara McDermott.

Tess Daly spoke to Bradford Zone.

And we’re back! This is Strictly’s 21st series, how does it feel to return to the show for such a monumental series?

It does indeed feel monumental that we have reached our 21st series. Strictly is a now a worldwide hit format. It is known as Dancing With The Stars globally, and it’s just incredible to think that it now plays in so many territories and yet we were the very first!

Every year there is so much excitement when Strictly comes back on our screens, what keeps audiences coming back for more?

It feels like a huge privilege to be part of a TV show that the nation has taken to their hearts. Families have grown up together, watching it on a Saturday night, they tell me all the time! It feels wonderful to be a part of that.

I think the reason it’s remained so popular is because, in a nutshell, it’s joyful, it’s warm and celebratory feel good television, which happens to be made by the most wonderful and talented production crew you could ever wish to work with. I love every last one of them.

What is the biggest joy from your job as a Strictly host, and the biggest challenge?

The biggest joy for me is that this is a live TV show. It’s such an adrenaline rush. I love that it’s completely authentic and anything could happen at any given moment. I absolutely love watching the audience’s faces as they react to the routines in the studio.

And it’s talking about it with everybody I meet and being a part of something that feels authentic and special. The biggest challenge is probably running up the stairs and across the studio at speed in stilettos! My calves do not thank me the next day!

Do you find yourself looking forward to watching particular styles of dance as the weeks go on? Which ones are your favourite?

I always look forward to all of our specials; Musicals, Movies, and Halloween. The hair, make up and costume team surpass themselves each time. And of course, Blackpool is a real milestone, not just for the celebrities, but for us too. It’s a real highlight in the series and the whole team decamps up north.

When it comes to dance my favourite has to be the Argentine Tango; when it’s executed perfectly, you can cut the air in the studio with a knife.

Do you have one stand-out dance and/or celebrity dancer from your previous series of Strictly Come Dancing?

Two routines and celebrities that are really stood out for me over the past 19 years are Ed Balls and his now infamous Gangnam Style routine. Once seen never to be forgotten! Ed threw himself into the challenge of learning to dance and thoroughly surprised himself in the process.

Another favourite is Hamza Yassin, 2022 champion. His salsa was on a whole other level to anything we’ve seen before it: he showed such exquisite skill and control -and pure strength when he threw his partner, Jowita up in the air, and caught her. Sublime.

There are so many great departments and roles involved in Strictly, if you could spend a day with one of them, who would it be and why?

One of the reasons the show is so successful is because of the incredibly talented people who work on it. We are spoilt because we have the best in the business.

Dave Arch and his team, are surely the best live music on television? The costumes are absolutely brilliant and sometimes the wardrobe department provide up to three changes for the entire cast during a live show. They work so hard.

I am in awe of the make-up and hair teams if I could, I’d love to spend the day shadowing them watching them work, their magic.

Strictly returned to Blackpool last year, after some time away, how was that, and does it make you excited to return this year?

It’s always a treat to return to Blackpool. We love the wonderfully warm, Northern welcome we receive there – and of course the fish and chip supper! It’s no mean feat, transporting a cast and crew of this size to the Tower Ballroom, along with all the equipment, props, costumes and cameras, but all the hard work is so worth it as soon as you step onto that iconic Tower Ballroom sprung floor and feel the electricity generated by the audiences excitement. The energy is like nothing else.

We have 19 brilliant pros for this series, some being with the show for ten years, how would you sum up their contribution towards making the show what it is?

Strictly is what it is because of our brilliant professional dancers; they really are the best in the world and their contribution to the show is what makes it so special, they are SO talented and not only are they skilled performers, but also nurturing teachers who bring out the very best in their celebrity partners.

Is there a song that will never fail to get you on the dancefloor at parties or weddings?

The one song that never fails to get me on the dancefloor at parties is Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s We Found Love.

When we had no audiences in the studio, we would play it between shows to lift the energy in the studio and me and Claudia would dance around like no one was watching!

Finally is there anything you are particularly excited for this series?

This new cast are so exciting. They’re so full of fun and just totally up for it and they’re also completely adorable. I fell in love with them all from the off at the launch show. I have high hopes we are in for a spellbinding series.