Strictly launch will pay tribute to Sir Bruce before dance partners are revealed

The fifteenth series of the BBC One dancing spectacular is back with new celebrities, new dancers and a new judge.

Strictly Come Dancing returns tonight with a new judge, three new professional dancers, and an emotional tribute to former host Sir Bruce Forsyth, who died last month.

The popular BBC One dancing show is back for its 15th series and will be hoping to trump last year’s record-breaking launch-night viewing figure of 9.3 million.

Strictly Come Dancing launch shows, overnight ratings.
(PA graphic)

New judge Shirley Ballas, 56, makes her debut as Len Goodman’s replacement after he retired his paddle following 12 years of dishing out “tens from Len”.

The returning professional dancer line-up features Strictly originals Brendan Cole and Anton Du Beke as well as other favourites like Gorka Marquez, Aljaz Skorjanec, Karen Clifton, Katya Jones and Oti Mabuse.

The three new professional dancers are Australian Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova from Ukraine and Amy Dowden from Wales.

Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova and Amy Dowden at the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2017 (PA)
Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova and Amy Dowden at the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2017 (PA)

The launch show will feature an emotional tribute to Sir Bruce Forsyth following his death aged 89 in August.

Last year’s winning couple, sports presenter Ore Oduba and dancer Joanne Clifton, will also take to the floor.

This year’s line-up of celebrities includes Good Morning Britain newsreader Charlotte Hawkins, This Morning host Ruth Langsford and The Saturdays singer Mollie King.

Other musicians hoping to impress with their feet and not their voices are former JLS star Aston Merrygold and X Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

Also hoping to shimmy their way to Glitterball glory are TV chef Simon Rimmer, EastEnders’ Davood Ghadami, Holby City star Joe McFadden and actress Chizzy Akudolu.

The full line-up of celebrities for Strictly (BBC/Ray Burmiston)
The full line-up of celebrities for Strictly (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

They will go up against Communards star, turned vicar, the Rev Richard Coles, paralympian Jonnie Peacock, comedian Susan Calman and Debbie McGee.

Completing the line-up is soap star and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson and entertainer Brian Conley.

During Saturday’s launch show, viewers will also discover who this year’s contestants have been paired with.

A two-week break will follow where the couples will rehearse their first routine before returning to impress Ballas and the returning judging trio of Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli.

Strictly Come Dancing
Bruno Tonioli, Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballason (BBC/PA)

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will once again present the main show while Zoe Ball will front BBC Two spin-off It Takes Two.

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