Strictly Come Dancing: Tess Daly sparkles in silver sequinned midi for showstopping launch13 min read

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Strictly Come Dancing kicked off in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as this year’s 15 celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners for the first time.

This year’s hopefuls took to the stage to discover which of the pros would be their teacher throughout the BBC primetime show, as they head off for two weeks of training before their first live performance.

The sparkling launch also saw a sensational performance from special guests Nile Rodgers and Chic, Craig David and Stefflon Don.

New faces: Strictly Come Dancing kicked off in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as this year's 15 celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners for the first time

New faces: Strictly Come Dancing kicked off in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as this year’s 15 celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners for the first time

It appeared Strictly also had a high-profile viewer in the form of Prime Minister Theresa May, who jokingly tweeted that the contestants should ‘get in touch if you need any tips.’

The politician made headlines earlier this week when she showcased her dancing skills on an official visit to Africa.

First up was journalist and BBC news presenter Kate Silverton, who after saying she had hoped for a tall dancer who could avoid her big feet, was paired up with Aljaž Škorjanec.

Struggling to hide her beaming grin, Kate said: ‘I couldn’t be more thrilled,’ while Aljaz said: ‘I can’t wait to get started.’

The Slovenian pro has a strong Strictly track record, having made it to the final with actress Gemma Atkinson last year, and the quarter-finals with actress Helen George two years before.

Watching on: It appeared Strictly also had a high-profile viewer in the form of Prime Minister Theresa May, who jokingly tweeted that the contestants should 'get in touch if you need any tips.'

Watching on: It appeared Strictly also had a high-profile viewer in the form of Prime Minister Theresa May, who jokingly tweeted that the contestants should ‘get in touch if you need any tips.’

Thrilled: Journalist Kate Silverton was first to be partnered up with Aljaž Škorjanec

Good record: The Slovenian dancer stormed all the way to final last year with actress Gemma Atkinson

Thrilled: Journalist Kate Silverton was first to be partnered up with Aljaž Škorjanec, who made it to the final last year with actress Gemma Atkinson

Next up was DJ Vick Hope, who admitted she needed a pro who could cope with her ‘clumsiness,’ and was immediately partnered up with Strictly newcomer Graziano Di Prima.

Ahead of taking to the stage the Capital FM breakfast presenter said: ‘Music is obviously a massive part of my life, I’m really looking forward to a bit of samba, Argentine tango the juice ones, I used to dance in heels in Newcastle when I go out. On Strictly every single dance is in heels and I’m petrified.

Exciting: Strictly Come Dancing kicked off in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as this year's 15 celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners for the first time.

Exciting: Strictly Come Dancing kicked off in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as this year’s 15 celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners for the first time.

Elated: Susannah Constatine squealed ‘bring on the Strictly curse!’ after discovering she had been paired up with longstanding Strictly legend Anton Du Beke

Presenter Susannah Constantine appeared to be revelling in the sparkling atmosphere of the show, and after hearing she would partnered with legend Anton Du Beke, screamed with delight: ‘Bring on the Strictly curse! I wanted someone with an evil sense of humour and he loves it!’

Susannah’s coupling-up comes after she hit back at fans who had viewed this year’s line-up as ‘barrel-scraping.’

She told MailOnline: ‘Really this is a great show. We are all really privileged to do it. It’s a fun show, it’s entertainment and we’re all here to do our best. So just get over it,’ Susanna insists.

And she only had praise for the likes of YouTuber Joe Sugg, who has attracted a particular strong amount of vitriol from Strictly’s core audience, who tend to favour soap stars over vloggers.

‘I think it’s been such a clever move for the BBC to get an eclectic group like this, it’s been really smart and having someone like Joe is genius,’ she says.

And Steps’ songstress Faye Tozer struggled to hide her joy as she was partnered with a runner-up of last year Giovanni Pernice, who after being paired up with Debbie McGee in 2017 wowed viewers and the judging panel.

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Up next was Blue singer and EastEnders star Lee Ryan, who was appropriately dressed in a sequinned suit the same colour as the famous band.

He was paired up with Nadiya Bychkova, who also competed with an EastEnders star last year in the form of Davood Ghadami.

And despite being a star of one of the Noughties biggest boybands, Lee has previously said their dance routines had in now way prepared for what Strictly had to offer.

He told MailOnline: ‘Oh yeah, absolutely not! Like yeah, I learned loads. If they go to me ‘lean, wink, airgrab’ I’ll get ten points! I wake up going like that. It’s like a brain reaction in the morning.

Lee had previously admitted he wasn’t looking for romance with any of this year’s Strictly pros, admitting last month: ‘No. I’d be blessed to get with any of them.

‘I’m single but I’m not really looking to get with anyone. Just learning the Charleston.

‘Everyone’s talking about the Strictly curse but I don’t really see how it’s a curse the girls look amazing.’

Dr Ranj Singh was up next, and after saying he would need a little dancer due to his short stature, he was partnered with ‘pocket rocket’ Janette Manrara.

The This Morning star admitted he loved Janette’s energy from their first meeting in rehearsals, and said before taking to the stage: ‘I think my colleagues will find it a bit weird me waltzing down the wards.’

Actor Danny John-Jules was paired with Welsh dancer Amy Dowden, and Youtube star Joe Sugg was partnered with Aussie beauty Dianne Buswell.

The brother of beauty guru Zoe Sugg – or Zoella – confessed he had never dance sober, and joked that fans would have to wait and see the outcome after taking to the training room.

And among the next group of girls was author and presenter Katie Piper, who was paired with last year’s runner-up Gorka Marquez.

Saying that it was a ‘massive relief’ to be paired with a dancer who is as determined as her, Katie confessed that her husband Richard Sutton had said she might need to ‘fake it’ with her dancing to wow the judges.

Paralympic champion Lauren Steadman said that despite having to juggle competing in the World Championships with her first week of training, it made her more determined than ever.

The 25-year-old was paired AJ Pritchard, who last year set tongues wagging to due his close relationship with celebrity contestant Mollie King.

Fans were left adamant that the pair were dating off-screen due to their sizzling chemistry on the dance floor and in the training room, though they insisted they were just close friends.

TV presenter Stacey Dooley – who admitted to MailOnline on the red carpet she was desperate to be partnered with Kevin Clifton – got her wish as she and the Grimsby-born dancer bounded around the stage at the news that they had been paired up.

Kevin’s appearance on the show comes following his split from professional dance partner and wife Karen in March of this year, though the pair had insisted they are still close friends.

At the time Kevin told BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans: ‘We wanted to let everyone know that privately we’re not together anymore, but professionally we are stronger than ever.

‘Dance has always been the thing… dance is how we came together and has been the glue that held us together for years now.

‘We’re still the best of friends, we’ve got a lot of love and respect for each other, I still pretty much see Karen every day.’

The pair said they wanted to speak out and ‘be upfront’ with their fans because there had been ‘a lot of talk’ about their relationship in recent months.

Kevin went on: ‘What we’ve found is, since we’ve been honest with each other about our relationship, it’s unlocked a new wealth of creativity.

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‘We feel like we’re stronger than ever and taking our dance partnership and professional relationship to the next level now, which is why we’re so excited about this tour.

The final girl to land her dancing man was Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, who landed former champion Pasha Kovalev.

Comedian Seann Walsh had big shows to fill as he was paired up with last year’s winner Katya Jones, leaving the comic squealing ‘I’ve got the former champion!’

Casualty star Charles Venn was near-speechless by the news that he had been paired with Karen Clifton, after her Strictly performance last year was cut short by singer Will Young’s decision to quit the show early.

And the last contestant to land his partner was cricket star Graeme Swann, who showed off his flossing skills along with dancer Oti Mabuse.

Graeme previously admitted he had no fears about the so-called ‘Strictly curse’ joking that his wife Sarah already thought he was ‘punching above his weight.’

He told MailOnline: ‘She’s got nothing to worry about. I’ve got the perfect little home with three great little kids.

‘I’ve been doing a lot of running because I’m so paranoid about looking fat on telly. In the entertainment world you’ve got to look your best. So I’ve been doing a lot of training recently so I felt alright.

‘It’s more a mental thing as when I go home I’m exhausted. I’ve got three little kids and so coming to Strictly is like a holiday for me.’

Tess Daly was also putting on a sparkling display in a stunning silver sequinned midi on Saturday as she joined Claudia Winkleman to host the lavish launch show.

The 49-year-old was embracing her inner disco ball in the stunning gown, while Claudia was looking sharp in a black trouser suit look.

The duo were out to present this year’s star-studded Strictly launch show, which sees the celebrities paired with their professional dance partners. 

Glamorous: Tess Daly was putting on a sparkling display in a stunning silver sequinned midi on Saturday as she joined Claudia Winkleman to host the Strictly Come Dancing launch show

Glamorous: Tess Daly was putting on a sparkling display in a stunning silver sequinned midi on Saturday as she joined Claudia Winkleman to host the Strictly Come Dancing launch show

Tess’ dress had a futuristic twist to it, as it boasted a long high neck and black trim, but remained eye-catching as it was covered in silver sequins.

The beauty had her blonde tresses styled into long effortless waves, and added some height with simple black suede heels.

Tess was also showcasing her flawless complexion with a classic smoky eye and nude lip, along with her signature beaming smile.

Meanwhile Claudia showed off her androgynous sense of style, sporting a plunging black trouser suit and matching heels.

Adding a cheeky pop of colour with a red lip, the 46-year-old sported her signature black blunt fringed tresses in a simple up-do, accessorising with gold hoop earrings. 

It comes as the long-awaited 16th series of Strictly finally commenced, with stars such as Ashley Roberts, Lee Ryan, Kate Silverton and Seann Walsh set to take to the dance-floor.

Keep dancing! The new series will also see the introduction of the Couples Choice category, which sees the couples choose from one of three new dance styles

Keep dancing! The new series will also see the introduction of the Couples Choice category, which sees the couples choose from one of three new dance styles

And along with plenty of this year’s signature dances – from the Waltz to the Jive to the Tango to the Charleston – the new series will also see the introduction of the Couples Choice category.

As the weeks progress, couples will be allowed to choose from one of three new styles on offer – Contemporary, Street/commercial or theatre/jazz – to best showcase their skills.

After the first few weeks of the new series, at least once celebrity contestant a week will be asked to perform a ‘Couple’s Choice’ dance.

Their selection will be performed alongside the more traditional styles which viewers have come to know and love, such as the Waltz, Ballroom and the Foxtrot. 

The couples will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Joe McFadden, who lifted the glitter-ball trophy along with partner Katya Jones.

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The duo’s victory proved a surprise to some fans, who were adamant that either Alexandra Burke (partnered with Gorka Marquez) or Debbie McGee (with Giovanni Pernice) would be crowned winner, due to their consistently high scores from the judges.  

Reigning champ: The couples will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of last year's winner Joe McFadden, who lifted the glitter-ball trophy along with partner Katya Jones

Reigning champ: The couples will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Joe McFadden, who lifted the glitter-ball trophy along with partner Katya Jones

STRICTLY COME DANCING 2018: THE FULL LINE-UP

Susannah Constantine 

Age: 56

Occupation: Fashion TV star 

Claim to fame: Susannah dated Princess Margaret’s son, David Linley  and is known for starring in What Not To Wear with Trinny Woodall, where they lauded Spanx

Charles Venn 

Age: 45

Occupation: EastEnders actor 

Claim to fame:  The handsome hunk has most famously starred as Ray Dixon in EastEnders, but has also starred in Casualty and Footballers’ Wives 

Lauren Steadman 

Age: 25

Occupation: Paralympic silver medallist

Claim to fame: British Paralympic athlete is a double World Champion Paratriathlete and six-time European Champion, who was born missing her lower right arm

Lee Ryan 

Age: 35

Occupation: Blue singer and former CBB star 

Claim to fame:  Lee is a member of boy band Blue who sold over 14million records worldwide. He’s also starred in various pantomimes 

Seann Walsh 

Age: 32

Occupation: Comedian 

Claim to fame:  Seann is one of the UK’s most beloved comedians, and along with touring the country is a regular on shows Virtually Famous and Play To The Whistle. 

Kate Silverton 

Age: 48

Occupation: News broadcaster

Claim to fame: Kate has been a fixture of BBC’s news presenting team for many years. She has also hosted programmes Panorama, Big Cat Live and My Family at War

Ashley Roberts  

Age: 36

Occupation:  Former Pussycat Dolls singer

Claim to fame:  Ashley soared to fame in the modern Burlesque group and dance troupe Pussycat Dolls. She left the group in 2010 and became a judge on Dancing On Ice

Dr Ranj Singh 

Age: 38

Occupation: This Morning’s resident doctor 

Claim to fame:  Dr Ranj has garnered fame from his presenting on CBeebies’ shows Get Well Soon and Bedtime Stories, as well as being a regular on ITV’s This Morning 

 Vick Hope 

Age: 28

Occupation:  DJ

Claim to fame: Vick has garnered fame in her turn as a DJ on Capital FM opposite Roman Kemp on the weekday breakfast show from 6AM

Danny John-Jules 

Age: 57

Occupation: Actor

Claim to fame: Danny has played Cat in the sci-fi cult series Red Dwarf since 1988. He also played hero Lenny Bicknall in the CBBC spy series M.I. High.

Katie Piper 

Age: 34

Occupation: TV star

Claim to fame: Katie rose to prominence after she was the victim of a horrific acid attack in 2008. She went onto front the documentary Katie: My Beautiful Face as well as several other series. 

Stacey Dooley 

Age: 31

Occupation: Documentary maker 

Claim to fameStacey has presented investigative documentaries for the BBC, including the award-winning Stacey Dooley on The Frontline: Gun Girls and ISIS in 2016.

Graeme Swann 

Age: 39

Occupation: Former cricketer

Claim to fame: Graeme is one of England’s greatest ever cricket stars, playing for the national team from 2008-13. He was also part of the historic winning 2009 Ashes team.

 Joe Sugg 

Age: 26

Occupation: YouTube star

Claim to fame: One of Britain’s most popular YouTube stars, with over 8m subscribers to his channel and 5.5 million Twitter followers. He is the brother of web guru Zoella.

Faye Tozer

 Age: 42

Occupation: Steps singer

Claim to fame: Faye was one of the stars of legendary 90s band Steps from 1997 to 2001. The group reunited in 2017 for an anniversary tour, with their comeback album