Strictly Come Dancing: Ed Balls teams up with a Russian in bid to lose weight

Ed Balls and Katya Jones on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Ed Balls and Katya Jones on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
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ED BALLS will be strutting his stuff with a “fierce and fabulous” new Russian dancer, Daisy Lowe cha-cha-chaing with previous victor Aljaz Skorjanec and Laura Whitmore with newly single Giovanni Pernice in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Balls, 49, who was MP for Morley and Outwood, said: “I’m not wearing any sequins, and no glitter, it’s all very classical.”

He admitted his wife, MP Yvette Cooper, encouraged him to take part in the hope it would help him lose weight.

The celebrities and dancers discovered who they are paired with as Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman kicked off the ballroom dancing show on Saturday night.

The launch saw the 15 celebrities step on to the Strictly dance floor for the first time.

Irish presenter Whitmore’s Strictly partner, Italian dancer Pernice, has just come out of a relationship with Georgia May Foote - the actress recently announced their split on Twitter.

Foote and Pernice met when they were partnered on the dancing show in 2015.

Model Lowe is with Skorjanec, who won Strictly with model Abbey Clancy in 2013.

Brendan Cole, who has been on Strictly since the first series, will be waltzing his way on to the dance floor with US singer Anastacia while Anton du Beke, who has also been there since the beginning, is with Birds Of A Feather actress Lesley Joseph.

The other pairings are Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton and BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty and Pasha Kovalev, who is in a relationship with Rachel Riley after meeting her on the BBC One show.

TV star Judge Rinder is with Oksana Platero and Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane with fellow new Strictly pro dancer AJ Pritchard.

The other pairings are singer Will Young and Karen Clifton, Olympic athlete Greg Rutherford with Natalie Lowe, Hollyoaks hunk Danny Mac is with Oti Mabuse, former Xtra Factor presenter Melvin Odoom is with Janette Manrara, sports presenter Ore Oduba is with Joanne Clifton, and actress Tameka Empson with Gorka Marquez.

Saturday night’s pre-recorded show, with judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel Horwood, also featured performances from Olly Murs and Rebecca Ferguson.

Viewing figures for Strictly Come Dancing saw a record 9.3 million viewers tune in on Saturday night - the biggest audience yet for its launch show.

The opener - which saw celebrities and dancers discover who they are paired with - attracted an average of 9.3 million viewers (46.4 per cent share) and a peak of 10.1 million.

The figures are 600,000 up on last year, when an average of 8.7 million tuned in.

The 14th series of the ballroom dancing show, which beat The X Factor in the ratings last year, goes live in three weeks.

The Strictly figures come after The X Factor suffered its lowest launch ratings in 10 years, despite a revamp by Simon Cowell.

ITV’s launch show last weekend was watched by 6.8 million (34% share) with a peak of 7.5 million.

Saturday night’s third X Factor episode was beaten by Strictly, although the rivals show were not broadcast at the same time.

The X Factor was watched by 8.3 million viewers (39%) and peaked with 9.2 million - adding another 1.5 million viewers from the same episode last week.

The ITV show was broadcast after BBC1 show Strictly finished at 8pm.

ITV said the figures are up year on year - the third episode last year was watched by 7.7 million (35.3% share).

Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger have joined Cowell on this year’s X Factor.

The BBC has not announced the schedules for the live Strictly shows yet.