STRICTLY Come Dancing is set to bring the sequins and sparkle back to our TV screens tonight, as the new series returns to BBC One at 7.15pm.
The launch episode for the 13th series will feature a group dance from 2015’s celebrity contestants: Ainsley Harriott, Anita Rani, Anthony Ogogo, Carol Kirkwood, Daniel O’Donnell, Georgia May Foote, Helen George, Iwan Thomas, Jamelia, Jay McGuiness, Jeremy Vine, Katie Derham, Kellie Bright, Kirsty Gallacher and Peter Andre.
This will be their first chance to impress head judge Len Goodman, who is joined again this year by seasoned Strictly judges Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.
Co-presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are also back to welcome the contestants to the dance floor for the first time.
The 15 celebrities will be paired up with their professional dance partners, with whom they will dance for the rest of the series.
The professionals returning to Strictly will be Aliona Vilani, Aljaz Skorjanec, Anton du Beke, Brendan Cole, Janette Manrara, Joanne Clifton, Karen Clifton, Kevin Clifton, Kristina Rihanoff, Natalie Lowe, Ola Jordan, Pasha Kovalev and Tristan MacManus.
Three new dancers have joined the line-up: Russian-born Dancing With The Stars favourite Gleb Savchenko; 2012 Italian champion Giovanni Pernice; and eight-times South African Latin American Champion Oti Mabuse.
The first show will also feature a final performance from last year’s reigning champions, X Factor presenter Caroline Flack and Kovalev.
Once the celebrities are paired with the professionals, they will have three weeks to train before returning to the dance floor to perform live every Saturday night.
There will be no public vote or results show until the second episode.
At the halfway stage of the competition, the celebrities and their partners will perform at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the international home of ballroom dancing and a Strictly Come Dancing tradition.
Zoe Ball will also return to host It Takes Two on BBC Two, providing backstage gossip and interviews with the Strictly stars.
This year, professional Strictly dancer Joanne Clifton, without a celebrity partner this year, will join the team as their resident dance expert.
Sir Bruce Forsyth will be returning to the Strictly Ballroom once again to host the Children in Need and Christmas editions of the show.
The BBC’s Strictly is set to overlap with ITV’s The X Factor every Saturday evening, leading to a ratings war between the broadcasters’ flagship programmes.
Last year’s Strictly launch episode had viewing figures of 6.5 million, compared to 5.8 million for The X Factor on the same night. The Strictly Final averaged at 10.6 million viewers, compared to The X Factor Final’s 9.1 million.