The launch of the new series kicked off with a dance from the Strictly professionals to The Pointer Sisters’ classic I’m So Excited. As the routine came to an end, with a spectacular leap from Bruce (well his double), Tess and the judges made their way onto the new set at Elstree.
After the celebrities made their way onto the dancefloor, Tess chatted to the judges with Len saying he was expecting to see some great dancing. Craig told the contestants not to answer back and to listen to their professional partners. Darcey told the celebs to work through the pain barrier in order to become great dancers.
The first instalment of the pairings reveal was next with four celebrities being introduced to their professional dance partners. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Deborah Meaden, Natalie Gumede and Rachel Riley were the first to find out who they would be dancing with over the course of the series.
Sophie was paired with Brendan Cole and seemed delighted to be dancing with the show’s notorious bad boy. Natalie was paired with Artem Chigvintsev and looked very happy about that fact (who wouldn’t be?). Deborah found out that she would be dancing with EF favourite Robin Windsor and we know she’s in safe hands. Rachel found herself in the arms of Pasha Kovalev which we think is a pretty great match.
Taking a break from the pairings for a little bit, it was time to introduce the show’s new professional dancers. Anya Garnis, Aljaz Skorjanec, Iveta Lukosiute, Janette Manrara and Kevin Clifton took to the floor showing off their moves. They were joined by the other professionals at the end of their routine.
Tess caught up with the celebs who’d found out their partners to talk about how they felt about their pairing. Seemed they were all happy! Jessie J then performed her new single It’s My Party before the pairing reveals continued.
Now it was time for some of the guys to find out who they would be dancing with. First up was Patrick Robinson, Ashley Taylor-Dawson, Julien Macdonald and Tony Jacklin. Before revealing Patrick’s partner Tess told the audience that Natalie Lowe had been forced to pull out of the pro line-up due to injury. Tess then revealed Patrick would be dancing with Anya Garnis. Ashley Taylor Dawson was next up and he pretended to faint when he found out he’d be dancing with Ola Jordan. Fashion designer Julian Macdonald revealed he wanted all of the remaining female pros but had to make do with just one – Janette Manrara. Golfer Tony Jacklin was the last of the four to find out his partner and was delighted to be dancing with Aliona Vilani.
Tess turned to the judges for their reactions. Bruno reckoned that Ashley and Ola would be an explosive couple on the dancefloor. We think he could be right!
The moment the celebs first met the pros was captured on camera (of course) and we got our first glimpse at who could dance and who may need some help. We’d say at this early stage we don’t hold out much hope for Tony Jacklin.
Back to the pairings and time to find out who Abbey Clancy, Fiona Fullerton, Vanessa Feltz and Susanna Reid would be dancing with. Abbey’s partner was revealed to be Aljaz Skorjanec the lucky, lucky girl. Fiona reminisced with Bruce about working with him 25 years earlier before she found out she would be dancing with Anton Du Beke. That left Vanessa and Susanna who were paired with James Jordan and Kevin Clifton respectively.
Talking to the judges, Bruce was told by Craig that James needs to pray for a miracle with Vanessa but thought that Aljaz and Abbey would be a great couple. Tess had a quick chat to the celebs again asking Fiona about her crush on Len Goodman making the poor woman blush. Then Rod Stewart stopped by for a performance of a track from his latest album. Karen and Kevin performed with Robin and Kristina as Rod sang.
Saving the best for last we finally got a glimpse of the celebrities and the professionals dancing together in their first group dance of the series. Who was a mover and who was a mess? Well from what we could tell Ashley and Ben were leading from the guys whilst Natalie seemed to be the strongest of the women.
After that it was all over for the launch and now we’ve got three weeks to wait!!
The list of pairings for the 2013 series is:
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
Deborah Meaden and Robin Windsor
Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec
Fiona Fullerton and Anton du Beke
Natalie Gumede and Artem Chigvintsev
Vanessa Feltz and James Jordan
Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton
Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ola Jordan
Julien Macdonald and Janette Manrara
Patrick Robinson and Anya Garnis
Tony Jacklin and Aliona Vilani
Dave Myers and Karen Hauer
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
Mark Benton and Iveta Lukosiute
Strictly Come Dancing will return on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September for the first live shows of the series.
Take a look at the couples below in our gallery: