Dance contestants take to Strictly floor

Contestants in TV’s Strictly Come Dancing put their weeks of intensive rehearsals to the test last night as they hit the dancefloor in a flurry of feathers and sequins.

The BBC1 show returned with the first live edition of the series as half of this year’s hopefuls showed off their skills, hoping to avoid mishaps.

Joining former soccer star Robbie Savage and One Show host Alex Jones were Anita Dobson, Audley Harrison, Dan Lobb, Lulu and Russell Grant.

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The contestants have been undergoing gruelling training sessions for the past few weeks to ensure they would be up to the task when Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly introduced them in last night’s show.

The remaining seven contestants, including Holly Valance and Jason Donovan, will grab their partners and have their turn tonight.

There will be no phone votes as the twinkle-toed stars perform either a waltz or a cha cha cha, but the couples must still impress the judges, who will give their scores although no one will leave.

They must also win over the public for future weeks.

Contestants have already spoken of their struggles to get to grips with the challenge.

Valance said during rehearsals that she was in pain from having to dance in heels and admitted: “Now I’m just trying to get from the start to the finish without falling over.”

The former Neighbours star also admitted that she and partner Artem Chigvintsev were not putting enough effort into their routines – despite having just days to go before the off.

Dancer Chigvintsev said they still had a long way to go to perfect their routines on the contest.

And Valance revealed they have had “light-hearted” squabbles during their intensive training regimes.