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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Michael Hogan

Strictly Come Dancing: week one – as it happened

Nigel Harman paso dobles to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones perform their scoreboard-topping paso doble. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

Thank you and a glittery goodnight

Nice to have Strictly back in our lives, isn’t it? As Anton said last week: “The children back at school, the world is right again – Strictly is back on the telly!”

We’ll be back for the first elimination weekend, which kicks off at 6.20pm next Saturday. I hope you’ll rejoin me then. In the meantime, I’m @michaelhogan on Twitter, so do swing by and say hi.

Thanks for watching along with me and all your excellent feedback. Have a lovely rest-of-the-weekend. And it almost goes without saying, keeeeeep dancing!

In other TV tip news, flip to BBC2 now for a feast of cheesy pop on Stock Aitken Waterman At The BBC, featuring hits from Kylie, Jason, Rick Astley, Dead or Alive, Donna Summer, Bananarama, Mel & Kim and more.

That’s followed at 10.05pm by Kylie Live In The Park, filmed in Leicester last weekend, then Kylie At The BBC. Hmm, where did I put my gold hot pants?

Hamza gets back to the day job

Reigning Strictly champion Hamza Yassin has his own wildlife programme tomorrow, pretty much in the slot where the results show would be. Hamza: Strictly Birds of Prey (see what they did there?) airs Sunday at 7pm on BBC1 and it’s really rather lovely. From rumbas to raptors. From foxtrots to feathers. From Tony Beak to actual beaks.

YodaknowsAll says: “Who knew that what I needed was Krishnan Guru-Murphy doing the cha cha cha to Boom Shacka-Lak? Not the best, but my favourite dance of the night.” I hear you, Yodez.

And fianlly, Pancake01 says: “I’m really loving the mix they’ve got this year. Some really good dancers who will be amazing to watch, quite a lot who look like they could do a full on journey, and a few who might not go too far. They all seem very nice though.”

On Amanda Abbington’s excellent Viennese waltz, which finished joint second on the scorebaord, girlpanic says: “I hadn’t seen any of the gossip about Amanda and Joe Varney not getting on, but it didn’t seem like it from that dance. It was gorgeous.”

paperview points out: “Amanda and Martin Freeman were playing a couple deeply in love on Sherlock. They were in the middle of a divorce in real life at the time. So we know she’s excellent at acting being love on screen.”

I’m not sure if this is a euphemism from SecretPuddleJumper: “My corn snake has been in its hide for days but just came out to watch Giovanni. It does have great taste. Also likes a bit of Ryan Gosling.”

Annabel Croft was another commenter favourite. Gardener_Maidhc says: “Annabel is doing pretty well at the cha cha cha but as usual, I ended up watching Johannes - although he did manage to tone it down more than I’ve ever seen before in an attempt to make people watch the partner and not him.”

Mike Moonlight adds: “Are all of Annabelle’s dances going to be tennis-themed? I suspect by week four, she’ll be reduced to re-enacting the Athena poster by just standing there scratching her backside.”

Jody Cundy went down well, with OozlumBird saying: Lovely routine from Jody and Jovita. It had a real ballroom vibe and Jovita looked absolutely gorgeous. I think he’ll be even better next week now the first one’s out of the way.”

mcculloch29 was also a fan: “When you think about what Jody was like in the group dance, he must have worked unbelievably hard to perfect his quickstep. I have followed him as a sportsman since the Noughties and cried all the way through his performance.”

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s quickstep.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s quickstep. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Readers’ verdicts

A short, snappy vox pop of your wisdom from the comments section. Pancake01 says: “My verdict on the outfits: Tess and Claudia look like they went to the new Chanel exhibition at the V&A. Unfortunately, they went after drinking 17 pints of snakebite and their memories are somewhat hazy. Shirley can pick up Radio Luxembourg with those earrings (showing my age here).”

Angela Rippon went down a storm, with OozblumBird saying: “Who doesn’t love Angela Rippon? Great stuff and so happy that Kai’s not playing it for laughs. Hope she goes a long way in the competition.” Acanthe adds: “Of course, she’s a complete ringer. Ernie Wise taught her all she knows.”

It’s the Golden Glitterballs!

At the end of each live show, we’ll be dishing out some imaginary gongs to the most (and least) deserving. Let me know if you agree but here goes… drum roll please… *fumbles with gold envelope*

Best dance: Nigel Harman stole the show right at the end but for me, Ellie Leach and Angela Rippon were up there for entertainment value.

Worst dance: Les Dennis was left stranded at the foot of the scoreboard but I suspect he’ll be popular with the public. Nikita Kana and Zara McDermott also disappointed.

Best music choice: Boom Shack-A-Lak or Smells Like Teen Spirit. Dave Arch is nothing if not eclectic.

Worst music choice: That Lewis Capaldi cover for Amanda Abbington’s Viennese waltz was seriously creaky.

Best outfit: Krishnan’s Brooklyn bhangra pimp suit.

Worst outfit: Tess’s fetish waiter trousers.

Best judges’ comment: Anton briefly forgot the name of head judge Shirley, who was sitting right next to him. Awkz. I also enjoyed Craig commenting on Bobby’s “length of bone” like a Victoria Wood sketch. But comment of the night goes to Motsi: “Ah, another year of Craig being jealous of me.”

Worst VT: Was Adam Thomas a bit shouty or was the sound level all over the shop early in the show?

Best Claudia quip: I enjoyed La Winkle’s bone-dry “How charming, Gorka” after Nikita revealed that her pro partner had told her in training to “Pretend you’re sitting on the toilet”.

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.
Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


So Nigel “Mini-Den” Harman sits proudly atop this year’s first leaderboard, with poor old Les Dennis way down at the bottom.

As we know, scores will be carried over to next week, then combined with their second dance and the viewer vote. The bottom two couples will hoof for survival. It’s still all to dance for.

What. A. Show. Saved the best until last for sure but with nearly half the field scoring 28 points or above, that was high quality hoofing for week one.


Credits roll

“Keeeeeep dancing,” chorus Tess and Claud for the first time this year. As the sequin-spangled curtain comes down, please stay with us for analysis, reaction and a round-up of your comments.

It Takes Two is back

Dancing done for the night, we get a plug for the spin-off show, which returns at 6.30pm on Monday with new co-host Fleur East. Play that sax.

Judges’ comments for Nigel and Katya: Craig says “dance of the night”. Motsi says “a spectacular way to end the night”. Shirley says “you’re the one to beat”. Anton concludes “power, intensity, stole the night, well done, sir”. I’m sensing eights here.

Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32 points. Shoots to the top of the leaderboard by a three-point margin.

Nigel Harman’s paso doble.
Nigel Harman’s paso doble. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Nigel and Katya’s paso doble

The actor has plenty of musical theatre experience and oozed confidence in last weeks’ group number, so my hopes are high for the first paso of the series. A bold dance to tackle first up. Here we are now, Nige, entertain us. He’s a circus ringmaster in top hat and waistcoat. Oof, strong start, nice curved arms and dramatic intent. Surely enough Spanish line for Craig? Capework, flames, oof. It’s fast, strong and fab-ew-lous.

Song: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. A bloke from Casualty bullfighting to a grunge anthem? It’s what Kurt Cobain would’ve wanted. Aston Merrygold danced a paso to this for Halloween in 2017, before being shockingly eliminated the following week. Let’s hope that’s not an omen.


Judges’ comments for Krishnan and Lauren: Anton says “lovely from the waist up, good groove”. Craig says “I’ll never watch you on the news in the same way, loads of personality, great job”. Motsi says “rave, swag, get it tighter but loved the attack”. Shirley concludes “natural rhythm and great coordination, well done”.

Judges’ scores: 5, 6, 6, 5 for a total of 22 points. Solidly mid-table.

Krishnan and Lauren’s cha cha cha.
Krishnan and Lauren’s cha cha cha. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

Krishnan and Lauren’s cha cha cha

Channel 4 newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy self-deprecatingly described himself as “physically catastrophic and pretty decrepit” last week but he’s doing himself a disservice. He lost two stone to get fit for the series and has been training like a midlife crisis demon. He’s hit it off well with pro partner Lauren Oakey in her first series with a celebrity partner. She studied broadcast journalism at university and has northern roots, so the pair have plenty in common. Producers not helping the Amanda Abbington/Lauren Oakey lookalike confusion by having them dance in quick succession. Brooklyn pizzeria theme, for some strange reason, and Krishnan is dressed a little like Cuban Pete (“Somebody stop me”!) but this is great fun. Feet and legs not great, walking around at times, but superb attitude and timing. He gave that some serious welly, bless him.

Song: Boom Shack-A-Lak by Apache Indian. The 1993 dancehall hit by the Brummie bhangra ragamuffin was described by Smash Hits at the time as “fabber than Shabba and shaggier than Shaggy”. But can Krishnan wine his body and wriggle his belly? Let alone dip and go down inna the new stylee?


Judges’ scores for Amanda and Gio: 7, 7, 8, 7 for a total of 29 points. Joins the trio tied at the top (Bobby, Layton and Ellie).

Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington.
Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington. Photograph: Ray Burniston/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Amanda and Gio: Shirley says “emotional, fluid, sensitive, styled and coordinated, magical chemistry between you”. Anton is so moved, he momentarily forgets Shirley’s name, saying “exquisite but breathe to free yourself even more”. Craig says “over-powered, soften it (boo!) but you danced it brilliantly”. Motsi concludes “focused, elegant, let go but this was quality, ta-da!”. Can she beat 29 points?


Amanda and Gio’s Viennese waltz

Actress Amanda Abbington looked like a promising hoofer amid last week’s Bee Gees chaos. However, there were tabloid stories yesterday that she’s threatened to quit after a string of clashes with partner Giovanni Pernice, unhappy with his “militant” attitude in training. They’ll be putting on a united front tonight to dispel such rumours, I imagine. Midnight blue outfits, moonlit feel, lovely side-by-side segments, then into hold for a spinning, twirling waltz. Gorgeous mood and arm extensions. Seriously impressive for week one.

Song: Pointless by Lewis Capaldi. A soppy pop balled co-written by Ed Sheeran, fact fans, which Capaldi himself performed on Strictly’s semi-final results show last year. Despite the title, it’s nothing to do with Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman’s quiz show. Shame.


Judges’ comments for Annabel and Jojo: Motsi says “elegant, beautiful legs, very nice”. Shirley says “lovely angles and poise, congratulations”. Anton says “I’m overwhelmed, unexpectedly wonderful, exquisite”. Craig concludes “could have done with more fluidity but one of the most elegant, swanky cha cha chas I’ve ever seen, darling, bravo”.

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 points. Joint fourth so far. Joannes says she’s such a calming influence that he’s got no anxiety.

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe.
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Annabel and Jojo’s cha cha cha

Team “Johannabel” were an instantly adorable couple last week. Now they need to back that up on the dancefloor. Decent start and sweet tennis theming but she lost her steps and timing at the midway mark and struggled to recover for 10 seconds or so. Lots of prop work, a little unsteady, but beautifully poised and sophisticated.

Song: Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. The second best-selling UK single of 1983 after Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon, pop-pickers. Westlife and Olvia Rodrigo have covered it. It’s also soundtracked a Strictly cha-cha before: Helen George and the much-missed Aljaž Škorjanec’s week two dance back in 2015.


Judges’ comments for Bobby and Dianne: Craig says “lovely length of bone but tuck your bottom under and work on rise and fall, loved the storytelling”. Motsi says “nice frame and ease of movement, pure energy gave me goosebumps”. Shirley says “endearing, I was in shock at your exceptional footwork, you look like a dancer”. Anton concludes “my favourite dance of the night so far, it flowed beautifully, I’m a bit stunned”.

Judges’ scores: 6, 7, 8 (ooh), 8 (ooh again) for a total of 29 points. Joint top with Layton and Ellie. Bobby says he’s fallen for ballroom.

Bobby and Dianne’s foxtrot.
Bobby and Dianne’s foxtrot. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Bobby and Dianne’s foxtrot

The bookies’ favourite for the glitterball trophy. Will Bobby Brazier justify that status? EastEnders’ cheeky cherub “hopes viewers will fall in love” with his “super-cute” foxtrot. Some swing-ography to start, then into an adorable foxtrot. He’s tall and poised, travelling around the floor well if a little loosey-goosey. Syrupy floor section, then confetti falls for a lovely finish.

Song: All About You by McFly. The boy band’s best-selling single was famously written by Strictly alumnus Tom Fletcher for his wife Giovanna as a gift after he forgot it was Valentine’s Day. What’s wrong with wilted carnations from the all-night garage, mate?


Judges’ comments for Jody and Jowita: Anton says “right up my strasse, improve your posture but very nice”. Craig says “free arm needs finesse, clumsy in and out of hold but pretty amazing”. Motsi says “raise your performance, too shy, open up and enjoy it”. Shirley concludes “debonair, sophisticated, best frame so far, work on your confidence and finish your extensions”. Fives and sixes? Jowita is tearful with pride.

Judges’ scores: 5, 5, 6, 5 for a total of 21 points.


Jody and Jowita’s quickstep

The decorated Paralympian looked worryingly like a dad-dancer last week, so let’s see what miracles reigning pro champion Jowita Przystal has worked with him. They had to shorten the steps to accommodate his prosthetic leg. Nice classic jazzy feel. Jowita’s counting aloud for him and it’s a little doddery in the runs but the Charleston steps aren’t too bad and there are some old-world Hollywood touches. Sparks fly for the big finish. Jody did much better than I’d feared, happily.

Song: I’m Sitting on Top of the World by Bobby Darin. A swinging, jazzy 60s cover of the 1920s classic. Dear old Len Goodman is approving this song choice up in dance heaven.


Ellie and Vito’s jive

“The jive?” cried Ellie Leach upon hearing what she’d be performing first. “Oh no, that’s really hard!” How will the Coronation Street actress cope, swapping cobbles for flick and kicks? Very well, as it goes. Confident, lots of content, lacks some sharpness and retraction but most impressive. No Jill Halfpenny but reminded me of pocket rocket Chelsee Healey, who was a finalist in 2011.

Song: Can’t Tame Her by Zara Larsson. An 80s synth-pop banger from the Swedish singer, who’ll forever go down in Strictly history for providing vocals on Clean Bandit’s Symphony - the soundtrack for Rose Ayling-Ellis’ groundbreaking showdance with silent interlude.

Judges’ comments: Shirley says “amazing, young lady, good footwork, work on consistency but you’ve got it all”. Anton says “tremendous, work on both feet but what a performance”. Craig says “sharp, precise, energy flagged but you’re an incredible dancer”. Motsi concludes “you were on top, incredible”. I smell sevens and eights.

Judges’ scores: 7, 8, 7, 7 for a total of 29 points. Joint top with Layton.

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola’s jive.
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola’s jive. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Les and Nancy’s tango

Halfway mark now. It’s this year’s oldest celebrity male and one of this year’s headline signings, Les Dennis has lots of goodwill in his favour. He also said this week that he’s desperate not to be first out, so his tango should be instructive. Was Nancy Xu working as a waitress in a cocktail bat when she met Les? No, it was the other way around. Nice twist. His posture’s poor and his feet are plodding. Nancy’s dancing around him here. Stiff but better once it gets going. A bit painful but a game effort.

Song: Don’t You Want Me by The Human League. The synth-pop classic was Christmas number one in 1981.

Judges’ comments: Motsi says “you drew us in but needed your energy going in the right direction”. Shirley says “musicality, timing, intensity and storytelling good, you did better than you think”. Anton says “I enjoyed the character but you seemed slightly hard of hearing”. Craig concludes “you might have been safer staying behind the bar, splayed fingers and feet stuck to the floor with Velcro but you gave it a go”.

Judges’ scores: 2 (lowest so far), 4 (doubled it!), 5, 5 for a total of 16 points. Bottom of the scoreboard so far.

Les and Nancy’s tango.
Les and Nancy’s tango. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Zara and Graziano’s cha cha cha

Graz joked that that Zara McDermott “dances like a camel” in training. Ooh, you charmer. He also made her train with a broom. Zara says she’ll channel her “confident Love Island bikini babe” for Latin dances. Nervous start and a lot of pose-striking rather than dancing. Leg action lacking but hips wiggling. A disco version, not terribly Cuban but kinda spicy. Laughing with relief at the end, bless her.

Song: Crush by Jennifer Paige. This 90s teen-pop hit was rumoured to be about Joey Fatone from NSync, who Paige was reportedly dating at the time. But it isn’t. Spoilsports.

Judges’ comments: Craig says “ploddy, wooden, awkward but the intention was there”. Motsi says “basics, connection but those long legs need to work”. Shirley says “you are lovely, great extensions, timing good but needs more flexibility in the hips”. Anton concludes “nice start but we want more of everything”. Fives incoming?

Judges’ scores: 3, 6 (she doubled it!), 5, 5 for a total of 19 points.

Zara and Graziano’s cha cha cha.
Zara and Graziano’s cha cha cha. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Layton and Nikita’s samba

Actor Layton Williams has teased a “hot and sexy” samba with “his ’n’ hers” outfits, bringing a bit of Rio carnival to Borehamwood. Impressive pop video style solo section to start, then into a stylish and sassy samba. Loses timing in places and lacks a bit of bounce but he has the confidence and ability for sure. Wow. A bit too good?

Song: Touch by Little Mix. The bouncy and empowering tropical house hit has become something of a gay anthem. “Photograph with no T-shirt on / Why you making me wait so long?” *fans self*

Judges’ comments: Anton says “magnificent, your feet were turned in but great from the waist up”. Craig says “footwork let you down but how flexible are your legs? Rhythm, hit the lines, amazing”. Motsi says “your musicality impressed me, that takes talent, it’s gong to be a good year, guys”. Shirley concludes “flexibility, fluidity, salesmanship but get some quality downstairs”. Sevens? An eight?

Judges’ scores: 7, 8, 7, 7 for a total of 29 points. First eight of the series and top so far, one point ahead of Angela Rippon.

Layton and Nikita’s samba.
Layton and Nikita’s samba. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Nikita and Gorka’s waltz

The BBC Asian Network presenter and Stacey Solomon soundalike looked panicked on the launch show when she heard that her first dance was the waltz. She’s also bookies’ favourite for the first elimination. No pressure, Team Gorkita. Dry ice covering up a multitude of footwork sins but sweet and romantic, if a little safe. Too much walking around but some cute shapes.

Song: Run To You by Whitney Houston. This Oscar-nominated ballad is from The Bodyguard soundtrack, so imagine that Gorka is Kevin Costner in this scenario. Gorka the Costna Corker. It’s also a regular Strictly choice, with both Anneka Rice and Naga Munchetty waltzing to it in previous series. Dave Arch can probably play it in his sleep.

Judges’ comments: Shirley says “you look stunning, soft and lyrical but get your core stronger and topline still”. Anton says “beautiful box step into a double whisk but too tense in hold, lovely and intimate but believe in yourself”. Craig says “posture and frame need work (boo!), too floppy and loose but some beautiful hand-shaping”. Motsi concludes “I sensed your nerves, build your confidence, you gotta dance and do it”. Fours and fives?

Judges’ scores: 3 (boo!), 5, 5, 5 for a total of 18 points. Lowest score so far.

Nikita and Gorka’s waltz.
Nikita and Gorka’s waltz. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Angela R and Kai’s cha cha cha

Back on the dancefloor an incredible 47 years after that high-kicking routine with Eric ’n’ Ern, it’s Strictly’s oldest ever contestant. La Rippon has already lost 4lb in training and been having ice baths to help her sore muscles recover. She’s also had a busy schedule, recording her BBC consumer show Rip-Off Britain in the mornings and practising her routine in the afternoons. Tireless and ageless. She begins in a frou frou gown, then throws it off and launches into a sprightly but slightly wobbly cha cha. Kai’s giving her instructions throughout. Fine leg-lift to finish. Kai falls to the floor swooning. Bravo. “Just wow, what a moment,” says Tess.

Song: Get the Party Started by Shirley Bassey. A sweeping cover of the P!nk anthem by Dame Burly Chassis. Chizzy Akudolu and Graziano cha-cha’d to this on the 2019 Christmas special but to me it’ll always recall Rhydian Roberts belting it out in a floor-length white fur coat on The X Factor. It’s a yes from me, Rhydian.

Judges’ comments: Motsi says “wowser, rippin’ up the dancefloor, that was a statement but needed more cha cha content”. Shirley says “I’m getting emotional, pure class, simple in content but executed with 150%” (her favourite number tonight). Anton says “you beauty, go on girl, wham-bam, come on”. A sequence of noises, thanks Tony. Craig concludes “jaw-dropping”.

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 points. Top of the pops so far.

Angela and Kai’s cha cha cha.
Angela and Kai’s cha cha cha. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


There was some debate about the location for that opening pro number but Alan99999 in the comments has come to the rescue, kindly informing us that it’s 4th-century fortress Tantallon Castle in East Lothian. Thanks, Alan99999!


Eddie and Karen’s quickstep

Comedian Eddie Kadi has talked up his snaky hips but needs to keep them in the locker for this smooth, skipping quickstep with pro partner Karen “Hotlips” Hauer. An old-skool sitcom-style opening and some sofa-orgaphy, then they fly around the dancefloor. A little hesitant and loads of gapping but he works the camera well and looks better our of hold.

Song: Two Hearts by Phil Collins. From the Buster soundtrack, it was co-written by Motown legend Lamond Dozier, winning a Grammy and a Golden Globe. This is getting a but like the captions on TOTP, isn’t it?

Judges comments: Craig says “hunched shoulders, wobbly topline but amazing personality”. Motsi says “musicality and joy”. Shirley says “you gave it 150%, well done”. Anton concludes “great performance level but droopy elbows”. Fours and fives, do we think?

Judges scores: 4 (boo!), 6 (yay!), 6, 6 for a total of 22 points. He’ll take that.

Eddie and Karen’s quickstep.
Eddie and Karen’s quickstep. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Angela S and Carlos’s tango

The Irish presenter is hotly tipped. Here’s our first chance to see if that’s justified, although a tango isn’t easy for your debut dance. Angela looking fiery in red. Sharp head swivels and lots of intent. Some flamenco skirt-swishing. This is impressive. Perhaps lacking a little shape and staccato but otherwise very accomplished for week one.

Song: Prisoner by Miley Cyrus feat Dua Lipa. The dark disco-pop stomper includes a melodic nod to Physical by the late, great Olivia Newton-John.

Judges’ comments: Anton says “loved the drama, intent and commitment but work on your posture and backward steps”. Craig says “loose arms (boo!) but you have lots of potential”. Motsi says “focus, attack, too much tension in your body but we loved that”. Shirley concludes “fabulous staccato, sharp head and left arm but solo sections and frame need work”. Sixes a-coming?

Judges’ scores: 6, 6, 5, 6 for a total of 23 points. Top of the leaderboard so far. Out of two but still.

Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu’s tango.
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu’s tango. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Welcome back to the Clauditorium

Dame Winkle is once again presiding over her balcony of ballroom bantz. Adam says “the energy is off the roof”, which isn’t a phrase or saying.

Adam and Luba’s cha cha cha

Emmerdale actor Adam Thomas has the honour/poisoned chalice of opening the series. He hasn’t only been struggling with his rheumatoid arthritis in training but has been spotted wearing a wrist support, so let’s hope he’s not in too much pain. Literal opening set at an actual waffle house, some Bill Bailey tribute hankie-ography and then into a pretty respectable cha cha. He’s confident and enjoying himself. Lots of basic content, even if his timing and leg action are a little lacking in places. Walking around and waffle-nibbling to finish.

Song: Waffle House by The Jonas Brothers, named after the restaurant where Kevin, Joe and Nick used to eat post-show. Shame it’s not called Wimpy or Greggs.

Judges’ comments: Shirley says “loved the chemistry but tighten up your footwork”. Anton says “great rhythm, top half magnificent, bottom half less so”. Craig says “sloppy, lacked precision, got out of time but hips are there” (boo!). Motsi concludes “smiled and showed no nerves but the dancefloor is your friend, keep your feet on the floor”. Fives, do we reckon?

Judges’ scores: 4, 5, 5, 5 for a total of 19 points. Solid. Ish.

Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk.
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Our Strictly stars™

Alan “Deadly” Dedicoat, voice of the lottery balls, announces our couples for the first time this year. Lots of classy outfits. Annabel Croft nods to her tennis career in all-white. Angela Ribbon is a vision in silver. Les Dennis looks like a snooker player. Snooker loopy nuts is he.


Judges make their entrance

We go for the judgular with Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and Shirley Ballas. Shirley’s in Pepto Bismol pink. Motsi’s got her legs out. The boys are both in tuxes. Spins and cheesy grins all round.



Here come our presenting pair, so time to compare their finery. Tess Daly is in crinkly black PVC trousers with white shirt and a tie that looks like braces but isn’t. Claudia Winkleman is in all-black trousers and shirt with white detailing. Nice lippy and she’s had her fringe trimmed, too. Claudia wins by a mile.


Group number from the pros

We open with the professional troupe showing the terrified new celebrities how it’s done. A dramatic, moody routine begins at a suitably epic coastal location before switching to the Elstree Studios ballroom.

That’s enough from Jake Shears. Now it’s our first look at the new-look title sequence. High fives! Comedy moves! Eddie Kadi finger guns! Les Dennis slapstick! Angela Rippon’s leg! And a nice touch with the inclusion on absent pro Amy Dowden. Get well soon, Amy.


And we're off!

Starting with a glossy VT introducing our 15 celebrities. Fancy!

Top up your drinks and take your sparkly sofa seats. We’re about to go over to Elstree Studios. After a VERY exciting Doctor Who trailer, that is. Allons-y!


Alan Carr’s Numberwang, more like.

I see tonight as our first proper dinner date with the 15 couples, after last week’s introductory drinkipoos. Will we end up sharing a chocolatey pudding and snogging at the bus-stop?

A mere five minutes now until the glittery ribbon gets snipped…

Are you enjoying Alan Carr’s Picture Slam on BBC1? It’s Roy Walker’s Catchphrase for overly literal people.


The running time tonight is an epic 140 minutes. You’d get less jail time for a prison break strapped to the underside of a van. Probably.

Best stock up on fluids and comestibles. Ten minutes until choreographic kick-off

Tonight’s 15 dances include a whopping five cha cha chas, plus two tangos and two quicksteps. Lots of opportunity to compare and contrast.

We’ll also be treated to our first paso doble (the drama!) and samba of the series, which is nothing if not ambitious. Fifteen minutes until showtime

Let’s play week 1 bingo

I’ll be continuing the tradition of predicting on-screen happenings each week. Tick them off when you spot them! Take a drink for each! Fall off the sofa midway through the show and blame it on being “tired”! Here’s your 10-point checklist for tonight:

  • Judges attempt a co-ordinated sit-down as they take their seats but one is a beat behind the rest

  • A couple on the new-look titles give each other a high-five

  • Shirley Ballas thanks the first pair to perform for “opening our show”

  • Ginger Neil hogs the camera up on the Clauditorium

  • Celebrity mentions their sore feet/aching muscles/Epsom salts/ice baths

  • Craig’s first negative critique of the series gets booed and he gives the studio audience some panto-style lip

  • Dianne Buswell refers to Bobby Brazier as “my little brother”

  • Claudia pretends she fancies bandleader Dave Arch

  • Celebrity mentions “the Strictly family” , before earnestly reiterating that “it really is a family”

  • Tess exclaims “look at your little face!” after a celebrity dances

No elimination this weekend

Just a reminder of the deal tonight. The couples will be critiqued and marked by the judging panel for the first time. I can almost hear Craig sharpening his talons and buffing his “2” paddle from here.

There is no public vote yet. Instead the judges’ scores will be carried over to next week, when us viewers can vote for our favourites for the first time and the bottom two are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. So our pro-celeb pairs get two chances to impress before one of them is cruelly sent home. Any early thoughts on who it’ll be? I fear for Nikita Kanda and Jody Cundy


Strictly 2023 goes live!

The glitterball is about to start spinning. Good evening all and welcome to the first live show of Strictly Come Dancing 2023. I’m Michael, your liveblogging dance partner. I hope you’ll watch along with me as this year’s sequin-spangled action begins in earnest.

After last week’s pre-recorded launch show, tonight our 15 newly formed pro-celebrity pairings hit the Elstree Studios ballroom floor for their first full routines together. They’ve been sweating away in the rehearsal rooms all week, marvelling at how much weight they’ve lost and grumbling about their sore feet. Now we get to see the fruits of their legwarmer-clad labours,

It’s showtime at 6.15pm on BBC One. I’ll be liveblogging from 5.45pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis, reaction and mild snark. So don flesh-coloured Spanx, lace up your dancing spats and see you on the sofa.

I’d love to hear from you too. You can tweet me @michaelhogan, email me and the comments section below is back open for ballroom business. I’ll shimmy down every now and again to say a cheery “hiyaaa!” and gauge your reaction to the show. So please share your thoughts, no matter how random or trivial. I’m new here too, so don’t be shy if you’re a first-time caller.

Snacks, drinks and second screens to hand? I hope so. Nearly time to, yes, staaaaaart dancing!

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