Strictly Come Dancing attracts big audience for launch show

The launch episode of Strictly Come Dancing was watched by an average of 8.6 million viewers, according to overnight ratings.

This marks an increase from the 2019 series opener, which launched to an average audience of 7.8 million people.

Saturday night’s episode achieved a 42.2% audience share and had a peak audience of nine million viewers, a spokesman for the programme said.

The launch saw a celebrity perform as part of a same-sex pairing for the first time in the programme’s history.

Here are the pairings for this year’s series of Strictly:

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse

Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey
(Image: BBC)

Comedian Bailey has previously said he was looking for a partner “who’s very patient, very patient indeed. And doesn’t mind the odd misstep”.

He added: “I’m a very quick learner but I might make a few mistakes along the way. So as long as someone is gonna be very patient with me, then that will be fine.”

Mabuse won the 2019 series of the BBC One show with celebrity partner Kelvin Fletcher. In 2016 she partnered actor Danny Mac and the pair were the runners-up.

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe
(Image: BBC)

Men Behaving Badly actress Quentin, 60, said her partner needed to have “a sense of humour. If there’s any lifting involved, I’m going to need someone with a bit of bicep action”.

Last year, professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima performed together on the show in a same-sex dance in a series where Radebe was paired with Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley.

They were eliminated midway through the competition after a dance-off against Mike Bushell and Katya Jones.

Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec

Aljaž Škorjanec and Clara Amfo
(Image: BBC)

Radio DJ Amfo has said she is “not afraid of hard work” and was looking for “someone who is going to push me – I don’t want someone to go easy with me”.

Last year Skorjanec partnered with Emma Weymouth, but in 2013, he lifted the Glitterball trophy alongside model Abbey Clancy.

HRVY and Janette Manrara

HRVY and Janette Manrara
(Image: BBC)

YouTube star and singer HRVY has earmarked the “quicker, up-tempo, energetic dancing” as routines he is looking forward to.

Last year she danced with paralympian Will Bayley, who had to retire early from the competition due to an injury.

Her previous partners over the years include JLS singer Aston Merrygold, EastEnders star Jake Wood, Melvin Odoom and Dr Ranj Singh.

Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke

Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke
(Image: BBC)

Politician Smith has found her perfect match in ballroom favourite Du Beke after saying previously she wanted a partner who is “very patient, a good teacher”.

Du Beke is the show’s longest-serving professional and will celebrate his 18th series of Strictly this year.

Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer

Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer
(Image: BBC)

Made In Chelsea star Laing was all set to strut his stuff on the dance floor last year but had to pull out after injuring himself before the series started.

The TV star and entrepreneur has made it clear he’s keen to lift the Glitterball trophy saying: “I’m pretty damn competitive, I don’t like losing at anything, and especially something I fell out of last year. I’m going for the win – that’s what I’m going for!”

Last year, Hauer partnered comedian Chris Ramsey and has also previously danced with Mark Wright, Nicky Byrne, Jeremy Vine and Simon Rimmer.

Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk

Luba Mushtuk and Jason Bell
(Image: BBC)

Former NFL star and BBC pundit Bell has cited previous winners Kelvin Fletcher and Ore Oduba as being among his favourite Strictly competitors.

Russian dancer Mushtuk was previously a choreographer on the series but in 2019 she partnered her first celebrity contestant, James Cracknell, but the couple received their marching orders in the second week of the competition.

JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden

Amy Dowden and JJ Chalmers
(Image: BBC)

Former Marine and British television presenter Chalmers, who is also an Invictus Games medallist, has said his nephew Rory is starting a fan club with his friends at school.

He said: “I believe they’re calling it ‘The JJ Cha Cha Cha Chalmers Fan Club’ which is absolutely amazing.”

He was seriously injured by a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2011.

Welsh dancer Dowden last year partnered Karim Zeroual and the couple made it to the finals.

Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez

Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez
(Image: BBC)

EastEnders star Smith, best known for her role as Tiffany Butcher in the long-running soap, has said the dance she is most looking forward to performing is “probably Street because that’s the only one that I know that I’ll be able to do”.

Marquez did not have a celebrity partner in 2019, but danced his way to the final in 2018 alongside singer Alexandra Burke.

Max George and Dianne Buswell

Max George and Dianne Buswell
(Image: BBC)

The Wanted singer has a tough act to follow after his bandmate Jay McGuiness won Strictly in 2013.

Asked if he felt added pressure due to McGuiness’ win, he has said: “Not really no, Jay is an amazing dancer he always has been. When I perform on Saturdays I’ll be contacting Jay to ask his thoughts.

“If he says that was pretty good then I’ll be happy. Jay has already texted me a couple of times out of the blue asking how it’s going so I’ll be asking him for a few tips”.

Buswell danced with Dev Griffin last year, but it was 2018 that was a stand out year for her as she partnered YouTube star Joe Sugg.

The pair made it all the way to the final and despite not winning, later confirmed they were dating. They are still a couple.

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones
(Image: BBC)

Boxer Adams pairing with Jones is an historic moment for the BBC One series. Adams has said: “I think it’s a brilliant step in the right direction especially on the diversity side of things”.

Professional dancer Jones has made headlines off the dance floor, notably in 2018 when she and her celebrity partner, comedian Seann Walsh, were pictured kissing on a night-out.

In 2019, Jones partnered BBC presenter Mike Bushell but it was undoubtedly also her debut on the show in 2016 that got people talking as she danced with Ed Balls.

Former Labour minister Balls and Jones danced a salsa to Gangnam Style, which went on to become one of the show’s most memorable routines.

She was previously married to Strictly professional Neil Jones, but the pair announced their separation in 2019 after six years of marriage and 11 years together overall.

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice
(Image: BBC)

Good Morning Britain presenter and journalist Singh has said that because she will still be working on the ITV breakfast show while also doing Strictly, her professional partner will need to be mindful of that “and the tiredness element that will bring”.

Pernice was partnered with singer and TV star Michelle Visage last year. The Italian dancer made his Strictly debut in 2015 alongside soap star Georgia May Foote and the couple were a formidable duo, reaching the grand final.

Two years later his partnership with Debbie McGee saw him reach the finale yet again and in 2018 he and Steps star Faye Tozer also made the final, but the series was won by Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on October 24.

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