Strictly Come Dancing returns to television screens for launch show

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return to television screens on Saturday night for its launch show.

The programme will see this year’s celebrity contestants get paired with their professional partners, before they all take to the dance floor to perform a group routine.

Among this year’s contestants are former home secretary Jacqui Smith, comedian Bill Bailey and actress Caroline Quentin.

The competition to claim the glitterball trophy is about to reopen (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

They are joined by DJ Clara Amfo, BBC pundit and former NFL star Jason Bell, former Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist JJ Chalmers, soap star Maisie Smith and Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh.

Former boxer Nicola Adams, reality star Jamie Laing, The Wanted’s Max George and YouTube star HRVY, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, will also compete.

According to analysis by the PA news agency, this year’s Strictly line-up is the most diverse since the programme began.

One third of the show’s contestants are non-white – the same record-breaking proportion as last year, and this year will also see the first same-sex couple take to the dance floor – with Adams making up one half of it.

Strictly Come Dancing 2020
Nicola Adams will be part of Strictly’s first same-sex couple (Ray Burmiston/BBD/PA)

This year’s series will be shorter than usual due to the pandemic.

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas will return to the panel this year.

Bruno Tonioli will initially be absent from the Saturday night panel because he is in the US as a judge on Dancing With The Stars.

However he will join remotely for the Sunday night results show and is due to return full-time towards the end of the series, the BBC has said.

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly will again host the programme (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

The show will take place in front of a much-reduced live audience.

Coronavirus measures also mean that while couples will be in close quarters with each other during rehearsals and performances, they will socially distance from other contestants.

Either the professional dancer or the celebrity will also be living on their own for the duration of the series as they form an exclusive support bubble.

Last year’s series of the celebrity dance contest saw actor Kelvin Fletcher, who was partnered with Oti Mabuse, take home the glitterball trophy.

Strictly Come Dancing will air at 7.50pm on Saturday on BBC One.

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