Strictly’s Christmas Special line up announced
It’s coming up to that time of year again when some of our favourite celebrities from past series of Strictly return to the ballroom for a Christmas special. This year, Caroline Flack, Ann Widdecombe, and Anita Rani are among the stars who have been confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special.
The all-star BBC One festive special will be broadcast on Christmas Day, and the likes of Aston Merrygold, Jake Wood and Michael Vaughan will also be gracing the dance floor once again.
TV presenter Caroline, 38, won the series in 2014 and claims her Glitterball Trophy is still on display on her home, and that she can't wait to return.
She said: "I can't quite believe it's been four years since I had the best time of my life, dancing with Pasha on the 'Strictly' dance floor.
"My Glitterball still has pride of place in my living room!
"It always felt like a family at the SCD studios, so how could I say no to performing one last time on this year's Christmas special? It'll be the best present I could imagine."
Former Conservative politician Ann, 71, will also make her comeback.
She said: "I am very much looking forward to returning to 'Strictly', where I shall once again be pushed, pulled, cajoled and coaxed around the dance floor in all manner of ways by my poor dance partner.”
Presenter Anita Rani starred in series 13 and is particularly looking forward to the show's sparkling outfits.
She said: "I can't contain my excitement about dancing again and getting sparkly for 'Strictly', stepping back inside the glitter ball of glam!"Ann Widdecombe is returning to 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Why Debbie McGee isn’t a fan of the Couples' Choice category
After making it to last years final with her professional partner Giovanni Pernice, the 60-year-old performer has criticised the couples choice category of Strictly Come Dancing, suggesting it’s unfair. Debbie doesn't think it's fair that classic Latin and ballroom routines are being marked alongside the new routines, which are either Theatre and Jazz, Contemporary or Street Commercial.
Although she doesn't think the new dances should be scrapped, she thinks it would be a better idea to have a special episode where each couple are able to choose their dance style and be pitted against one another.
Speaking on The Telegraph's Talking Strictly podcast, she said: "I think it’s good to introduce something new so that the programme changes, the pictures change.
"I totally agree that the programme is about Latin and Ballroom. But if they want to put something different in, my personal opinion would be well, why don’t they have a night where it’s all the Couples’ Choice?
"I think it would be fairer with the marking than marking against the Samba."
She’s not the only one who has doubts about the couples’ choice section of Strictly as former show professional James Jordan, has gone as far as claiming the new routines have "no place" on the programme.
He said: "You’re comparing like for like then. Then you compare those dances against each other."
After James criticised the new routines on Twitter, he revealed he had been inundated with messages of agreement.
He said: "A lot of people agreed with me that that sort of dance shouldn’t be on Strictly.
"You can’t please everyone. I’m not saying I’m always right, because I’m not always right."
The Tweet in question criticised Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell’s hip-hop style performance over the weekend.
He posted: "I like Joe and Dianne but for me this dance has no place on Strictly.
"He did a good job but I can’t really comment on the technique."
Katie Piper’s behind the scenes battle
With Strictly well under way after Susannah Constantine and her partner Anton Du Beke were eliminated at the weekend, it’s no surprise the contestants are feeling under pressure as they adapt to their new dance training lifestyle.
One celeb that’s really feeling the pressure is Katie Piper who has admitted that she’s battling something behind the scenes that is taking its toll on her. According to Katie, her acid attacker is due for release from prison very soon. She’d hoped her starting Strictly would distract her but she’s finding it tougher than expected.
Katie, who is partnered with Gorka Marquez said: "I have been having lots of things going on in my personal life, legal things, and I think it became psychologically overwhelming for me...
"I get really emotional on Mondays and Tuesdays, it's always then I want to storm off in a tantrum and cry because it's a new routine and song, it's so overwhelming."
She’s also admitted to the Daily Mirror newspaper that she has requested to dance to more upbeat tracks to dance to, hoping it will lift her mood.
"When the lyrics are emotional, that's tough...
"My hope this week is that we have a much more upbeat song."
Dances for this weekend
The first live show of the series is getting ready to air on Saturday. The dancing is about to begin but what will the stars be performing to this week? Here’s the full list of songs and dances the celebrities will be preparing for:
Ashley & Pasha: Viennese Waltz to Perfect by Ed Sheeran featuring Beyoncé
Charles & Karen: Cha Cha Cha to Ain't No Love (Ain't Not Use) by Sub Sub featuring Melanie Williams
Danny & Amy: Foxtrot to Top Cat Theme by Hoyt Curtin
Dr Ranj & Janette: Cha Cha Cha to How Will I Know by Whitney Houston
Faye & Giovanni: Cha Cha Cha to Lullaby by Sigala featuring Paloma Faith
Graeme & Oti: Samba to Soul Limbo by Booker T and The M.G.'s
Joe & Dianne: Jive to Take On Me by A-Ha
Kate & Aljaž: Cha Cha Cha to Kiss by Tom Jones
Katie & Gorka: Waltz to When We Were Young by Adele
Lauren & AJ: Waltz to I'm Kissing You by Des'ree
Lee & Nadiya: Waltz to Take It To The Limit by The Eagles
Seann & Katya: Tango to SexyBack by Justin Timberlake
Stacey & Kevin: Quickstep to Dancing by Kylie Minogue
Susannah & Anton: Samba to Tico Tico by Carmen Miranda
Vick & Graziano: Jive to Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man
When will it start?
The first episode of Strictly usually aires in early September so hopefully we only have a month to wait! Of course the very first show of the series is the pre-recorded episode where we see the celebs being paired up with their dancing partners. The live shows then start around two-weeks later towards the end of September.
Fancy being there? Apply here to be part of the audience!
Who will be the professional dancers?
This year will see the largest line up of professionals in Strictly history with a total of 18 dancing stars taking to the ballroom - that's a total of 36 dancers once they're all partnered up!
Of course we all heard the sad news earlier this year that Brendan Cole would not be part of the 2018 show as well as Chloe Hewitt. As a result, the BBC have introduced three new dancers.
Graziano Di Prima - Italian Latin Champion dancer who has also represented Belgium at the World Championships.
Johannes Radebe - joining the UK version of Strictly from Strictly Come Dancing Africa where out of the two series he has been a part of, he made the final both times!
Luba Mushtuk - four time winner of the Italian Dance Championship and has taken part in both Giovanni Pernice’s and Karen and Kevin Clifton’s tours.
Who are the judges?
One thing that won't be changing this series is the judging panel, after Craig Revel Horwood accidentally let slip there would be no changes! Alongside Craig will be Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli as well as Shirley Ballas, who will be returning for the second time as head judge - can you remember when she was first on Strictly?
Strictly goes green
Nothing says Strictly like a ton of glitter, but this series of the ballroom dancing show will be very different to previous years. BBC bosses have decided to ban the use of plastic glitter on this year's series in a bid to be more environmentally friendly.
Instead, an eco-friendly liquid glitter will be used each week. The biodegradable glitter will not pose a threat to marine life when flushed or washed down the sink. On top of this, Strictly bosses have also introduced bio-degradable make-up wipes for the first time.
They are also in the process of looking into how environmentally friendly the make-up used on the show is, as they want to ensure this too is eco-friendly and biodegradable.
Same sex couples
Recent Strictly signing Dr. Ranj Singh, who is openly gay, had requested to dance with a male partner on the upcoming series but his request has been denied, despite Dr. Ranj claiming the issue was "incredibly important."
He said: "I would love to dance with a same-sex partner. I would value a time when same-sex couples could dance on shows like Strictly. It is incredibly important. We are making progress but I think there is still time to go."
However, Strictly bosses insist they have "no plans" to move away from the traditional pairings. A spokesperson told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: "'Strictly' has chosen the long-standing ballroom dancing format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples."
Judges Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood have both backed campaigns calling for same-sex couples on the show. Earlier this year, Shirley said: "I couldn’t think of anything more exciting."
And Craig pointed out: "The tango was originally danced between two men anyway."
Kevin Clifton defends the 2018 Strictly line-up
As the celebrity names are slowly being revealed by the BBC, many fans of the show are not happy that YouTuber Joe Sugg has become the first internet star to ever sign up for the show. However, professional dancer Kevin thinks it's a great idea for Joe to be on the show, as he believes it will open Strictly up to a younger audience.
He wrote on Twitter: "The reason i think @Joe_Sugg is such a great signing for @bbcstrictly is he has a HUGE young following (over 8million youtube subscribers) that because of him may watch Strictly and become dance fans. So much potential for inspiring kids to dance here.
After many Strictly fans were quick to criticise the signing of Joe Sugg, Kevin was quick to jump to his defense.
Kevin also retweeted a number of messages of support for Joe, 26, who previously revealed he was first approached by Strictly bosses at the beginning of the year.
He shared: "Back at the start of the year I got approached and asked if I want to be on the show."
He said: "This is huge for my grandparents. My grandparents both love the show, and although they know what I do on YouTube, I think it'll be great for them to see me on a platform they're more familiar with and with a TV show they are very familiar with."
The confirmed celebrity line-up
56-year-old fashion guru Susannah is a little bit nervous about dancing on the show.
She said: "I hope to prove pigs can fly. Sick with nerves and jangling with excitement."
The former EastEnders star - who was known for playing Ray Dixon in the long-running soap from 2012 until 2013 is looking forward to getting his dancing shoes on. Charles, 45, said: "It truly is a pleasure to be a contestant on 'Strictly Come Dancing', to be associated with a show that has such a huge following excites and scares me in equal measure! Dancing on 'Strictly' is going to be quite a challenge but life’s all about testing yourself so there’s lots to look forward to, let the games begin..!"
The 25-year-old Paralympic silver medallist is a double World Champion Paratriathlete and six times European Champion, who was born missing her lower right arm. She began her sporting career aged just 11 when she began swimming competitively. She competed in the Beijing Paralympic Games at aged 14, and after switching sports from swimming to the triathlon after the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she went on to win a silver medal in Rio in 2016.
In a statement about Strictly she said: “I still don’t think it has properly sunk in that I’m actually going to be part of this year’s Strictly! I have loved the show since I was young, and it’s a huge thing to tick off my bucket list. I’m more nervous about being on stage, performing live and in front of the judges than I am about the Elite Paratriathlon Grand Final next month! But I’m up for the challenge and excited to swap my triathlon kit for dancing shoes and sequins.”
The 35-year-old star has confirmed that he is taking part in the new series of Strictly and he hopes he can make it to the final like his friend Simon, did in 2014, ultimately finishing as runner-up with his professional partner Kristina Rihanoff to Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev.
Lee said: "I was nervous even to say yes. They approached me and I'd seen Simon do it, I spoke to him a little bit, but just watching him and his transformation was really important. He really grew on it and that's what the show is about. And he got to the final."
Lee doesn't think his background in pop band Blue will help him master the moves because the group are known for their limited dancing on stage.
He added: "Have you ever seen a blue concert? We lean; we drop the shoulder now and again, that's it! I haven't been practising. I'm just going to try my best."
32-year-old comedian Seann said: “Having seen videos of me dancing on friends’ phones from the night before, it’s safe to say I’m petrified but also so excited. I’m really looking forward to the lifts, the Lycra and the laughs, although as Craig would probably say 'dancing is no laughing matter dahhhhling …’”
You may recognise Kate from BBC News, and now, after 12 years of BBC bosses persuading her to take part, the 48-year-old news reader has supposedly signed up to take part in Strictly.
A show insider said: “Kate has been at the top of the producers’ wish list for more than a decade.
“But she has always put her career and family above everything. Now she’s polishing off her dancing shoes and can’t wait to get started. She was asked previously but was reporting on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan so couldn’t do it.
Ex-Pussycat Doll Ashley has been hand-picked by BBC bosses to bring some glamour to the show as the 9th signing. However, it could be another controversial signing as she began dancing when she was just three-years-old and has also studied modern dance when she was younger. The singer did make clear however that she has no experience with the ballroom styles of Strictly.
She said: "When I got the call I was super excited. I miss performing and I'm excited to learn a new style of dance - the worlds of Latin and ballroom are foreign to me."
The 31-year-old documentary maker is the 8th contestant announced for Strictly. She commented: "It's happening! I'm taking part in Strictly Come Dancing this year and my mother is going to explode. 2018 has already been such an incredible year for me, I've done some amazing things and I'm excited to add 'becoming a dancing GENIUS' to the list! Typically, work for me is very serious and can be quite hard core so I'm going to soak up the escapism and bathe in the sequins. See you on the dancefloor!"
Stacey is one of Britain's most celebrated documentary presenters and her recent BBC Three series concerning child labour and women in developing countries, led her to be awarded an MBE for her services to broadcasting.
Dr Ranj Singh
TV medic Dr Ranj Singh who has segments on ITV's Good Morning Britain, This Morning and Watchdog becomes the seventh contestant to be announced for this years Strictly competition.
Dr Ranj started his TV career five years ago on the CBeebies show Get Well Soon.
He said: "I'm so overwhelmed and excited to be part of this wonderful show. It's an absolute dream come true for me!
"I've been a massive fan for so long, and I can't quite believe this is happening, but I'm going to give it my best shot.
"Anyone that knows me knows that I love a bit of sparkle... so bring on the glitter! I can't wait!"
The former England cricket star has become the sixth name revealed for the upcoming series of the popular BBC ballroom dance competition.
39-year-old Graeme said: “It’s true - I’ve signed up for ‘Strictly’! I’m hoping to follow in the footsteps of the cricketers who’ve come before me who’ve either won the whole thing or had an absolute ball on the show. Keeping it under wraps from my kids has been nearly impossible; they are huge fans of the show and I can’t wait to see their faces when I tell them. I don’t have any background in dancing but can do the floss so let’s hope this comes in useful!”
The next celeb to join this years Strictly Come Dancing is Capital FM's Vick Hope.
28 year-old Vick said: "I'm so excited about being a contestant on this year's 'Strictly'.
"I've always been such a massive fan of the show so it's a huge honour to be part of this series."
She said: "Dances like ballroom and Latin are totally outside my comfort zone, but I love dancing, it makes people happy - myself included.
"To be able to perform every Saturday is such an incredible opportunity - I couldn't be looking forward to it anymore and I will be throwing myself into it, working hard and learning from the judges every week."
The 26-year-old YouTuber is "very nervous" about appearing on Strictly. Joe has made a name for himself on the video-sharing website after amassing 25 million followers.
He said: "I'm honestly so chuffed to be involved in the show this year! Not going to lie, I’m very nervous about it, it's totally out of my comfort zone and I know it will be a huge challenge but that's what life is all about I guess."
The Red Dwarf actor has been announced as the third celebrity contestant lined up for this year’s series. In a statement, Danny said: “Having spent the last few months on two wheels motorcycling around South America in pink leathers, I’m absolutely delighted to be getting back on two feet and into something more comfortable like glittery spandex.”
The 57-year-old actor starred as Cat in the sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf, and was also known for his roles as policeman Dwayne Myers in BBC crime drama Death in Paradise.
Katie Piper is the first celebrity contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2018.
The 34-year-old TV presenter and activist had this to say about the upcoming series: "I feel so privileged and excited to be part of my favourite show on TV. I already know how much of an amazing experience it will be for me and I can’t wait to show my girls some of my new dance moves.
"I’m nervous to put on my dancing shoes but can’t wait to learn a new skill and have the Strictly tan and makeover!"
The latest celeb to be confirmed for this years line-up is Steps star, Faye Tozer. The signing of the 42-year-old 90s pop star has caused anger amongst many Strictly Come Dancing fans as she not only has experience dancing with Steps but also in various West End musicals.
Faye said: “Being on Strictly is literally a dream come true! It’s everything my nine year old self ever wanted from showbiz and I’m going to relish every moment!”