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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter

Huw Edwards and Graham Norton star in special Strictly opening for BBC centenary

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of the professional dancers during the live show of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1. (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Huw Edwards, Naga Munchetty and Graham Norton were among the BBC stars who featured in a special opening of Strictly Come Dancing to mark the broadcaster’s centenary.

To kick off Saturday’s show, the professional dancers and judges performed a routine which moved through numerous classic BBC shows including Casualty, EastEnders and University Challenge.

The number opened with broadcaster Edwards paying tribute to the dance competition and later Norton featuring judge Motsi Mabuse in his show’s famous red chair.

Opening the show, co-host Tess Daly said: “Tonight we are celebrating 100 years of the BBC.”

Fellow host Claudia Winkleman added: “That was our most ambitious group number ever featuring 14 BBC shows and 35 BBC stars all choreographed by Matt Flint.”

As the BBC marked 100 years on October 18, the dance competition is honouring the occasion with routines to classic BBC theme songs and references to popular shows.

For the first celebrity performance of the night, TV presenter Helen Skelton went back to her Blue Peter days as she danced the Charleston to Mike Oldfield’s theme tune for the children’s show.

Skelton dressed in red dungarees and partner Gorka Marquez donned red trousers as they performed before revealing a puppet creation of the judges.

They secured a score of 35, with judge Anton Du Beke describing it as Skelton’s “best dance yet”, and Craig Revel Horwood agreeing that it was “confident” and “energising”.

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Kiss FM DJ Tyler West and Dianne Buswell brought a haunting atmosphere to the dancefloor as they danced the tango to the Doctor Who theme tune.

The couple remained striking and mysterious throughout their routine, which also featured a Tardis and Weeping Angels, to land a score of 32.

Revel Horwood complimented West’s “sharp” and “staccato” movements, with Du Beke suggesting the DJ should allow more time to stand still within the performance.

Shirley Ballas praised how West’s technique has improved, saying: “I was absolutely thrilled to bits that your postural line is now getting straight.”

In traditional Eurovision style, Norton introduced singer and presenter Fleur East and Vito Coppola to the dancefloor for their performance to Waterloo by Abba, which won the Swedish pop group the song contest in 1974 in Brighton.

The pair dressed in classic Abba style with fringed, sequinned outfits and knee-high white boots as they jived across the floor to score 32 points.

Revel Horwood said it was “slightly heavy-footed” but praised East’s energy and the routine.

Mabuse said she was worried about the jive for East, but added it showed the singer’s rhythm.

EastEnders star James Bye paid homage to the BBC soap opera as he performed the foxtrot to Julia’s Theme, the show’s alternative version of the classic theme song.

Backdropped by a set of the show’s Queen Vic pub, Bye and his partner Amy Dowden glided gracefully to secure a score of 26.

With fellow cast members in the audience, Bye became emotional as he said it was a “dream” to present his show on the dancefloor.

Mabuse said the opening of his movements were “absolutely beautiful” but when he was in closed position he was “struggling”.

Ballas said she could see how hard Bye was working but he needed to focus on his posture.

Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds and Nikita Kuzmin brought the drama of The Apprentice’s boardroom to the dancefloor as they performed to the show’s theme tune.

Dancing a dramatic paso doble to the song, which is originally from Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet ballet, the couple scored 30 points.

Ballas said: “Your laser vision at the very beginning, I could see that you were totally into this, you brought a lovely sense of mood.”

She deducted one point for an “illegal lift” during the routine.

Du Beke also praised Simmonds’ focus and described it as a “tremendous” dance.

Singer and actress Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu performed to the Grange Hill theme tune by Alan Hawkshaw.

Dressed in full school uniforms, including matching purple blazers and striped ties, the pair danced around a canteen set in a routine that ended in a food fight.

Rainford is the highest-scoring celebrity in the competition so far but this week the pairing did not reach the same heights as they scored 30 points.

Du Beke said it was a “brilliant” routine but a “safe” option for their couple’s choice.

Mabuse said: “I don’t think it was that bad. I think it’s very difficult to get the type of vibe with this type of music, that doesn’t offer that vibe of, ‘hey, what’s happening’.

“So I think you did the best with what you had. You can push a little bit more, there’s no need to be safe, but you are one of the most talented girls we have in this competition.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One.

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