Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing stars strut their stuff on red carpet

Tassels twirled and hips gyrated as the stars of this year's Strictly Come Dancing appeared together for the first time at a glitzy red carpet event.

Judges, dancers and celebrity contestants strutted their stuff outside the BBC's Broadcasting House in London ahead of this year's series, which begins with a launch show on BBC One on 9 September.

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Pop star Alexandra Burke and Paralympian athlete Jonnie Peacock were cheered by crowds when they took to the red carpet.

Burke did not speak to the press, however, later revealing her mother had died that day.

She wrote on Twitter that her mum had always been her "biggest supporter" and "was over the moon" to learn she was taking part in Strictly.

"It was always a dream of hers that I would one day be part of the show and I know that she would have wanted me to carry on," added the singer.

Peacock, the first celebrity hopeful to have a disability, said it was "really awesome" the show has asked him to participate. "We need more inclusion," he told the BBC.

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Saturdays singer Mollie King joined actor Joe McFadden on the dais festooned with glitter and shiny ticker tape.

King said she had yet to seek advice from bandmate Frankie Bridge, a Strictly contestant in 2014, but said she would "definitely be on the phone" asking for tips.

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The Reverend Richard Coles showed off some impressive dance moves as he sashayed down the red carpet with newsreader Charlotte Hawkins.

"I'm not sure if they're going to be good for anyone but I'm releasing them," he told the BBC's Lizo Mzimba. "They're bubbling up from within like a volcano."

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Presenter Debbie McGee, whose late husband Paul Daniels competed on Strictly in 2010, got a lift from the show's male dancers at Monday's launch event.

"I'm just going to make sure I enjoy it," said the TV presenter who, at 58, is the oldest contestant in this year's line-up. "I don't think there's any other way to do it."

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Former glamour model Gemma Atkinson, meanwhile, got a lift of her own from actor and comedian Brian Conley.

"I'm happy to wear whatever they wish as long as it isn't too revealing," said Conley, adding he would be "happy to be sprayed" if a fake tan was required.

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New Strictly judge Shirley Ballas made her first appearance alongside series regulars Craig Revel-Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli.

"At the moment I don't feel any pressure but we'll see on the night," said the international ballroom champion, who is taking over from the departing Len Goodman.

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Actress Chizzy Akudolu, comedian Susan Calman and presenter Ruth Langsford donned a variety of bold colours as they posed for photographs.

"I haven't worn a dress or heels since I was 17 and I'm 42 now so this is a huge change," said Calman, adding that she would need "a slightly shorter gentleman" as a professional dancing partner.

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Co-hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly were also on hand to launch the first series of Strictly to air since the death of former presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Daly had previously said she was "heartbroken" by his death, calling him "a gentleman and a true legend".

"We really want to make him proud," said Mollie King at the launch show. "He has been such a huge part of Strictly so for us we just want to really give it our all."

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