Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing: Celebrities paired with professionals

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Image caption Celebrities closed the show with their first group dance with the Strictly professionals to It Takes Two

The 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing has kicked off with 15 celebrities from the comedy, music and sporting worlds showing off their moves as they hit the dancefloor for the first time.

Hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman rolled out the red carpet on Saturday to welcome this year's line-up as they made their grand entrance into the famous Strictly ballroom to discover which professional dancer they have been paired with.

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Image caption In the first pairing announced during the launch show, Kate Silverton said she "couldn't be more thrilled" that she will dance with Aljaz Skorjanec

Discovering she will dance with show stalwart Anton DuBeke, TV stylist Susannah Constantine told Daly: "I'm so happy I cannot tell you. Bring on the Strictly curse is all I can say now I'm with Anton."

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Image caption Capital Breakfast show host Vick Hope will get to strut her stuff with new Strictly professional Graziano Di Prima. "If they dance together as good as they look, they'll go far," Daly enthused

Italian Latin champion Graziano Di Prima is one of three new professional dancers who have joined the show this year.

South African Latin champion Johannes Radebe, and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk are the other two new additions, giving Strictly its largest line-up of 18 professionals.

Radebe and Mushtuk are reserve dancers without an official pairing.

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Image caption "I'm very happy. I'm really, really chuffed," former Steps singer Faye Tozer gushed about her 2017 finalist partner Giovanni Pernice

TV presenter and author Katie Piper said she felt "so very lucky" she will be making her dance moves with Gorka Marquez. "It's going to be a journey but something tells me it will be a fabulous journey."

The former model has said taking part in the programme is "daunting" and claims she lacks "natural rhythm.

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Image caption Double world champion paratriathlete and Olympic silver medallist Lauren Steadman will be cha-cha-cha-ing with AJ Pritchard.

Lauren tweeted after the show that she is "over the moon" to be paired with "such an amazing guy" and promised her followers the duo will perfect a signature move.

Born missing her lower right arm, Lauren has said she probably wouldn't wear a prosthetic because "maybe with a spin, it would fly off somewhere".

TV presenter and journalist Stacey Dooley will be tripping the light fantastic with Kevin Clifton.

"Bruno [Tonioli] is the only person in the world who is more over the top than me," she told Daley.

Tonioli quipped: "I love you already, extra points."

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Image caption Singer Ashley Roberts was spun around by professional dancer Pasha Kovalev as their pairing was announced

Head judge Shirley Ballas has returned for 2018 alongside regulars Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Dame Darcey Bussell.

Revel Horwood described the line-up as "fabulous" while Dame Darcey advised the celebrities to "let their professionals help them get over their nerves".

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Image caption Strictly professional Naiya Bychkova will be putting Blue singer Lee Ryan's boy band dance moves to the test this series as he follows in the footsteps of his former bandmate Simon Webbe., who was a runner-up in 2014

Casualty actor Charles Venn will be in safe hands with Karen Clifton.

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Image caption "Pocket rockets" was how Janette Marara described herself and celebrity partner, This Morning's Dr Ranj Singh

Dame Darcey said it is important for the show's couples to "give off the same amount of energy together" and have the same work ethic.

Revel Horwood added that couples need to be "committed, focused and put in the hours in the training room - that is most important".

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Image caption Red Dwarf and Death in Paradise actor Danny John-Jules said he's now "officially an honorary Welshman", thanks to his pairing with Welsh dancer Amy Dowden

YouTuber Joe Sugg will be tapping his toes with Dianne Buswell in his bid to lift the glitterball.

"This is going to be a tremendously fun experience and journey, I can't wait to take over your life," tweeted "over the moon" Strictly pro Oti Mabuse after her pairing with former England cricketer Graeme Swann, who was pretty delighted himself...

Stand-up comedian Seann Walsh bragged: "I got the champion" when he found out he will dance with last year's winning professional Katya Jones.

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Image caption Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas even found time to give their fellow judge Darcey Bussell her own special welcome in honour of her being made a dame in the New Year Honours List

The full line-up of couples competing in Strictly Come Dancing 2018:

  • Vick Hope and Graziano Di Prima
  • Susannah Constantine and Anton Du Beke
  • Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice
  • Katie Piper and Gorka Marquez
  • Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard
  • Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton
  • Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev
  • Lee Ryan and Nadiya Bychkova
  • Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara
  • Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden
  • Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell
  • Former England cricketer Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse
  • Casualty star Charles Venn and Karen Clifton
  • Seann Walsh and Katya Jones.

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