It’s back. The BBC’s flagship dance competition series, Strictly Come Dancing, is returning to screens for its 21st series.
The programme has lined up an enviable roster of celebrity guests for the new series, which premieres on BBC One at 6.35pm on Saturday (23 September).
Episodes will continue to air every Saturday, with the acompannying results show airing the following evening.
Among the contestants this year are reality star Zara McDermott and veteran Channel 4 broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy, as well as TV presenter Les Dennis.
You can find the full line-up for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing here.
You can follow along with the first live episode of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 with The Independent’s liveblog below...
Launch episode begins Saturday evening on BBC One
Adam Thomas kicks off episode with dance to Jonas Brothers’ ‘Waffle House'
19:01 , Louis Chilton
The strongest scores of the night for Angela: a seven from each judge.
“You’re top of the leaderboard.”
“But there’s 11 more to come,” Angela replies. Still a long way to go!
18:59 , Louis Chilton
Legendary newsreader Rippon, 78, is dancing the Cha Cha Cha to “Get the Party Started” by Shirley Bassey with partner Kai Widdrington.
This is exactly what Strictly’s all about, isn’t it?
She has history with the series, of course, having previously presented the BBC’s long-running ballroom series Come Dancing that gave Strictly its name.
Motsi: “That is how you start a Saturday night. My goodness. Well done.”
Shirley: “I have to say, I’m getting rather emotional... This was executed with 150 per cent of Angela Rippon. Everything about you is absolutely pure class.”
Anton: “Go on you beauty!”
Craig: “Jaw. Dropping.”
18:54 , Louis Chilton
It’s a four from Craig and three sixes for Eddie and Karen.
Now, we have Angela Rippon making history here as the oldest contestant to have competed on Strictly.
But first, here’s something people picked up on - Amy Dowden spotted in the opening credits for the episode.
18:49 , Louis Chilton
Craig: “It was a little bit hunched of shoulder for my liking... but your personality saved the day. That was amazing.”
Motsi: “I have to say, music lives in your body. I love the joy you bring to the dance. You need to work on your posture, everything in your spine, but I was honestly entertained from the first step to the last.”
Shirley: “You would light up any room with your personality. What you’ve got is something extra, something special, you came out here and gave it 150 per cent. It was fantastic.”
Anton: “Your performance is great, and I’m looking forward to that carrying you through the competition. If you could pick your elbows up, it would look magnificent. Congratulations.”
18:46 , Louis Chilton
Next up, it’s Comedian Eddie Kadi, dancing the quickstep to “Two Hearts” by Phil Collins.
His partner will be Karen Hauer.
You can find out more about him here.
Hauer, 41, is Strictly’s longest serving pro dancer, with her tenure on the series dating back to 2012.
She reached the final with Jamie Laing in 2020, but has never won the series. Could Eddie finally be her ticket to glory?
18:43 , Louis Chilton
Scanlon’s sisters in the crowd... charming stuff.
Three sixes and a five from Ballas for her efforts.
18:39 , Louis Chilton
More savagery from Craig Revel Horwood here.
More booing from the crowd.
The dance goes on...
18:37 , Louis Chilton
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu next, dancing the Tango to “Prisoner” by Miley Cyrus feat Dua Lipa.
18:34 , Louis Chilton
Four from Craig.
Five from Motsi.
Five from Shirley.
Five from Anton.
Could be worse...
18:31 , Louis Chilton
“A little bit sloppy all over,” says Craig.
Cue booing from the crowd.
18:31 , Louis Chilton
Some nice moves here, Thomas interpolating the “robot” into his pastel-coloured routine.
Praise for his chemistry and personality from the judges.
18:28 , Louis Chilton
First couple are up: Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk, doing the “Cha Cha Cha” to “Waffle House” by the Jonas Brothers.
18:24 , Louis Chilton
And it’s live!
18:12 , Louis Chilton
Not long now! Who are you most excited to see perform?
17:30 , Louis Chilton
Another bit of Google catnip - the dreaded Strictly curse.
Is it a real thing? It’s complicated...
17:00 , Louis Chilton
One of the most frequently Googled queries about Strictly, I’m told: do the contestants get paid?
16:30 , Louis Chilton
Another list, this time rounding up the 12 greatest moments of the entire series.
Will this new season give us anything on this level? We can hope...
16:00 , Louis Chilton
A bit more left-field, but here are eight facts you might not have known about Strictly...
15:30 , Louis Chilton
Ellie also went long for this feature on Amanda Abbington, the Strictly contestant whose involvement has prompted calls for a boycott.
15:00 , Louis Chilton
Ellie Harrison spoke personally to Bobby Brazier, the actor and son of Jade Goody who is one of this year’s competitors.
14:30 , Louis Chilton
And here’s who they’re paired with...
14:00 , Louis Chilton
A refresher before the series starts! Here’s a breakdown of all the contestants on Strictly this year
13:16 , Louis Chilton
First up, here’s a great piece about the over-50 stars leading the line on this year’s series
12:54 , Louis Chilton
Good afternoon, and welcome to The Independent’s Strictly Come Dancing 2023 liveblog.
Still a good few hours to go until launch, so I’m going to take this opportunity to share some of the Strictly-related pieces we’ve run recently.