Dust off those disco balls, dig up the glitter and shine your dancing shoes: Strictly Come Dancing is back.
The 20th series of the dance competition will, as always, see a star-studded selection of competitors take the stage as they waltz, briskwalk, dance and dance their way to that coveted Glitterball trophy.
The show kicks off on Friday, with a taped opening in which the stars are paired with the professional dancers. It is then direct with the first competition live on Saturday.
Among the dancers in this series is Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, from Aldridge in the West Midlands.
She will be joined by Birmingham-based radio presenter Richie Anderson, as well as Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, Kaye Adams, Jayde Adams, Tyler West, Matt Goss, Ellie Taylor, Molly Rainford, Tony Adams MBE, Fleur East, Hamza. Yassin, James Bye and Helen Skelton.
All say they can’t wait to leave, even if they’re a little intimidated by the whole ordeal. They have been busy training with their partners, whose identities will be revealed on Friday.
It’s a particularly significant moment for 27-year-old Ellie Simmonds, who hopes to show fans that they can achieve anything they want.
Ellie, who suffers from dwarfism, admitted she has been upset by some of the ignorant and abusive messages that have been circulating on social media since she was announced as a candidate.
Prior to her debut with Strictly, Ellie said, “I’ve had it before. Some people said, ‘How will the dwarf dance?’ It’s sad and it touches you.
“I asked my professional partner if he was going to be ok with it because I’m short but he said, ‘I want to dance with you, I want to try it.’
“It’s scary. Yes, I’ll be embarrassed. I’m a woman anyway, I’m different. We all worry about our wobbly bits. I’m not going to be like any other celebrity, with this partnership where you can hold each other. But from this comment there are so many other amazing comments.
Although it has not yet been announced who will be dancing with whom this series, it has been revealed that former Sunday League footballer and TV and radio personality Richie Anderson will be dancing with a male partner, following the footsteps of John Whaite and Johannes Radebe who made history in 2021 as the series’ first all-male couple.
Richie, 34, who is on Radio 2 and has also appeared on BBC WM, said: “When they called me and offered it to me, they said we wanted you on the show, and that’s it. is up to you if you dance with a man or a woman – which I found amazing.
“I went home and talked to my other half, and October is our 10th anniversary, and he said, ‘On our 10th anniversary, you have to dance with a man.
“I remember watching John and Johannes last year and Nicola and Katya the year before and thinking, when I was growing up as a teenager, finding out what I am and what I’m not, I would have liked to have seen this in prime time on television.
Loose Women’s Kaye Adams, 59, says she had “two light bulb moments” that led her to agree to be on the show.
She said: “One was on vacation after two Aperol Spritz, and I was like, ‘What the hell is this?!’
“The other was standing in my kitchen thinking, ‘If I’m here at the end of September watching this on TV, will I be thinking: Why did I turn this down?’
“And I thought, ‘Yeah, I will. “”
Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps and Coronation Street’s Will Mellor also says he wanted to grab life by the horns and take on the challenge Strictly, and for very heartwarming reason.
“The loss of my father changed everything,” says the 46-year-old actor, whose father died in 2020.
“He was my hero and my best friend, and it changes you, really. I would easily say no to stuff just because I’d be so worried about what everyone would think, and then you realize how absurd it is when you lose someone like that.
“I just thought: I have to say yes to more things and make memories – that’s life, step out of your comfort zone.
“And my mom, it’s one of her favorite shows, she had the worst years of her life, so it’s good to do something positive. She can’t wait.
“I’ve been asked a few times,” says former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams, 55.
“I had a nervous breakdown when I was 49 and working too hard in China, and I just have time now.
“After my heart operation – I almost died at 49, my main artery was 99% closed – and the stresses of life. I just decided to take things a little easier and go for a silly show.