It’s that time again… there’s a chill of fall, the kids are finally back at school and sequins are being frantically sewn into dozens of gorgeous costumes. Come back strictly!
Anton Du Beke returns to the jury but this time on a permanent basis as he officially takes over the reins from Bruno Tonioli.
Despite being a bundle of energy, the Italian has clearly decided that the jetlag from bombing back and forth between Los Angeles (where Dancing with the Stars is filmed) and London is too much even for him.
Anton will again be joined by head judge Shirley Ballas plus Motsi Mabuse and wonderful Craig Revel Horwood.
The show is due to start on Friday, after being delayed due to the Queen’s death earlier in the month. To whet your appetite, here’s what the celebrity contestants revealed as they began rehearsals.
1. Kym Marsh had to borrow some underwear on the first day of training
The actress’ husband was supposed to leave her suitcase at the hotel, but he was late and she finished her first dance practice early.
“I had no clothes, no change of underwear, nothing!” she says. “Jade [Adams] I have something to borrow and a Deliveroo.’
Having faced Nasty Nigel on Popstars back in the day, Kym can’t be worried about Craig, surely?
“Nothing can be worse than being called fat on TV. How wonderful! But I think [Craig] it will be terrible,” he jokes.
2. Matt Goss could go full John Travolta or James Bond. Or both.
The singer says Strictly training is very different to preparing for shows as a solo artist.
“The biggest obstacle… is that they don’t tell us [as solo performers] “You have to put your foot in there, leave it there. You have to move this way. You have to do this.” The reason we didn’t want proper jobs is because we don’t like being told what to do on stage. And when you’ve been doing it for so long, it’s hard to break the habit. So you try to move in a certain way [in training] but you are strictly bound by this choreography.”
Matt returned home to the UK after 11 years as a headliner in Las Vegas, but says he “wasn’t happy at the end. I felt cut off”.
“I made a decision after the success of my last record, I’m coming back to the UK. They called me strictly and I thought, if I don’t do this, I’m going back to my comfort zone, just working,” says the former Bros star, who he says the first person he told was Luke’s twin brother.
“I want to go disco, Staying Alive! And I want to do James Bond,” she adds. Strictly, to you!
3. Hamza Yassin has received Lycra advice from Rev Richard Coles
The wildlife presenter and camera operator made a documentary with the man of the cloth, who took part in Strictly in 2017.
“He’s an amazing guy,” says Hamza. “He said: ‘Enjoy every moment. If you don’t normally wear Lycra – and they ask you to wear Lycra – do it, because you’ll look hot in it!'”
Hamza says being on the show is already a victory.
“I’m severely dyslexic. So to know that someone as severely dyslexic as I am is successful on TV, it’s amazing.”
4. Could Brad Pitt make a special appearance for Ellie Taylor?
The A-list movie star is a fan of The Great Pottery Showdown, which is co-hosted by comedian and actress Ellie. So is he hoping for a video message from the man himself?
“I’m sure Brad Pitt will come into my DMs and say, ‘I loved you!'” she laughs.
Ellie adds that having done a Strictly sketch on The Mash Report, it feels surreal to now be appearing in the real thing.
“You walk into the ballroom and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, here I am and it’s Shirley Ballas!’
“It’s crazy. You feel like you’ve just jumped into the TV.”
5. Jayde Adams wants to be Bristol’s answer to Bette Midler
The Alma’s Not Normal star isn’t worried about being dismissed as a novelty because she’s a comic.
“Well, I hope I am! I sing, I dance, I act, I crack jokes. I’ve always wanted to be a bit of Bristolian Bette Midler.”
Jayde will be working with a woman this series and is looking forward to experimenting.
“Whenever you have collaborations where you have a plus size guy [with a female professional], it’s easy for him because he can always pick up the girl, but when you have it the other way around, you have this imbalance. The [professional] The kids are great, they’re not rugby players. So I thought I might as well get into all the stunts.”
On who will lead and who will follow, he says, “I think we might mix it up a little bit.”
6. Richie Anderson has a special Strictly cocktail
The Radio 2 travel presenter will be missing a big Strictly tradition this year.
“Every year I have a big cocktail party at my house on the night of the release,” he explains. “Well, my mom smells [that there won’t be one this year]! I make a Charleston cocktail, it’s like a blackcurrant liqueur. I’ll give you the recipe!’
Strictly super-fan dances with a male partner.
“It was a joke [choosing to dance with a same sex partner]. I wish as a gay teenager … I could have turned on the TV in the front row on a Saturday night and seen two men dancing together.”
7. Ellie Simmonds wants to prove that dancing is for everyone
The Paralympic swimming star finds her feet both on set and behind the scenes.
“With [having] dwarfism, I was able to go to the studio just to make sure that things can work for me, even something as simple as they have given me lower bars so I can wear my clothes. We get physical and psychological support, too.
She and she say [yet to be announced] the dancer will learn together.
“He’s never danced with anyone with dwarfism before. And I’ve never danced before in my life. We’re just… we’ll adjust. Like if I have to hold him differently, I’ll hold him differently… but I think if I can do it … people watching from home can realize they can fit in. Dance is for everyone.”
8. Will Mellor could be Craig’s private dancer
The actor was chosen by the judge during an interview on BBC’s The One Show last month, with Craig saying of Will: “I think he’s got a real charm about him and I think he’ll be able to bring that to the dance. floor.”
Will jokingly refers to a famous Tina Turner line: “I was Craig’s private dancer for many years, his money dancer.”
Before he was Strictly-fied, Will tells us the most outrageous outfit he’s worn (so far) was for “a revival of Mamma Mia on ITV… wearing knee-high boots. I watched it afterwards and thought: “That might have been a mistake!”
9. Tony Adams can’t wait to show off his silk skills
The former Arsenal and England captain is under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
“This isn’t the football pitch. It’s a bit different! I’m quite on my feet. The only thing in common is the back foot!”
Several former professional footballers have taken part in the show in the past, including Peter Schmeichel, Peter Shilton and Robbie Savage.
“Everyone said don’t do it, don’t be stupid,” Tony jokes.
“I’m at a stage in my life where I can do anything. I’m addiction free, I haven’t had a drink or a drug in 26 years and I can just go for it.”
10. Molly Rainford thinks she can handle Craig after Simon Cowell
CBBC star and singer Molly first found fame on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent as a child, reaching the finals 10 years ago. But this time she’s a little more worried.
“When I was 11, I don’t think I knew what I was getting into,” he says. “But now I kind of do. I’m definitely a little more nervous than when I was little.
“Because I had Simon [Cowell as a judge], am I afraid of Craig? I know Simon had a bit of a soft side and he was really a big teddy bear at the end. So I hope Craig is the same!”
11. Fleur East will “give over to the sequins”
The singer and presenter is friends with AJ Odudu, who took part in last year’s Strictly.
“He just said, ‘Surrender to the sequins!’ This is going to be so hard, but the best thing you’re ever going to do.”
“I would love to dance to my own music, that would be amazing. My Ghanaian mum and I grew up on highlife music and Afrobeats. It would be really fun to do something like that.”
Fleur is already feeling the pressure – she was two hours late to the morning radio show after the first day of filming.
“Sorry to disappoint you but I was shaking and shaking until the wee hours and it knocked me out!” she told her Hits Radio listeners. You’ll get used to it, Fleur.
12. Tyler West is slightly afraid of elevators
“I was nervous about the lifts because even though I go to the gym and … I feel pretty strong physically, this is completely different,” he says. “By doing it [a lift] after a full minute of running on the track he’s crazy!”
He says he’s excited that people are getting to know him.
“It gives you an opportunity to just showcase who we really are. And I feel like I was the kid watching a show like Strictly with my family and [could] say, “Wait, I look like them or sound like them or have dreadlocks or whatever,” that’s motivation. The representation is there.”
James By, who plays Martin Fowler in EastEnders, says he feels no pressure after his co-star Rose Ayling-Ellis won Strictly last year.
“I’m not a very competitive person. So as long as I beat Rose, I don’t mind!” laughs.
James is one of the big EastEnders actors taking part, so who else would he like to see do it?
“I would love Lacey (Turner) to do it. I don’t know if she would, but I think she’d be fantastic. Or Steve McFadden. I think Phil Mitchell in sequins would be the ultimate!”
14. Helen Skelton enjoys talking a lot
“I think the nice thing about it for me is… normally I’m on my own, it’s just the nature of my job,” says the former Blue Peter presenter.
“I went to Antarctica [for Sport Relief], they purposely took a healthy man who didn’t speak English because they wanted me to be on my own, like a real explorer. While that, it’s nice to be in and around people, to share something in a group. That’s why I talk a lot!’
Her family are preparing to watch Helen strut her stuff later this month.
“My mum’s excited, my dad’s excited, even my brother, and I love him as I say this, he’s the most serious man in the world – and he’s excited!”
15. Kaye Adams has already put in the hours
The Loose Women anchor practices her spin in Charleston.
“Why did I do this? It took me six weeks [to be able to do it]! I will be signing up for 2023!” he is joking.
Don’t worry though, Kaye’s had some great advice from Loose Women who have already taken part in the show.
“They basically told me, ‘Don’t screw it up!'”