Strictly Come Dancing launch: exclusive interviews with celebrity contestants

The new series of Strictly Come Dancing started with a bang as the sequins, fake tans and dance moves returned to UK TV screens on Saturday night.

Entertaining show host Bruce Forsyth, endearingly known as Brucie to Strictly fans, opened the launch show with his famous catch phrase, "It's nice to see you. To see you nice!" before warming up the crowds with expertly-choreographed steps and waving jazz hands.

The pairings were revealed with a roster of celebrities, including WAG Abbey Clancy and presenter Susanna Reid and their professional dance partners, rocking the dance floor with an opening routine. Jessie J and Rod Stewart graced the stage with electrifying performances, but all attention was on the contestants who tried hard to not look too nervous.



HELLO! Online caught up with the 15 hopefuls before the launch, and got a glimpse into their hardcore training and preparation.

"I think I'm just running on adrenaline," said Abbey, who was paired with Aljaz Skorjanec, speaking to HELLO! Online. "I've never done any professional dancing, ever. The only time I dance is when I go out and then I think I'm Madonna after a few glasses of wine. Or Jennifer Lopez.

"I'm just really looking forward to it. I think after having the baby, I haven't worked as much and I was looking for that new project that's fun and would energise me as a new mum."

Abbey's Premiere League star husband Peter Crouch attended the launch episode and cheered on his wife as she made her debut on stage.

"Peter's so supportive of everything I do," said Abbey. "I was a little bit nervous dancing in front of him, but to be honest I knew he wouldn't be looking at me with all these hotties on stage," she joked.


BBC presenter Susanna Reid and her professional partner Kevin Clifton

BBC presenter Susanna, who was partnered with Kevin Clifton, has already had a bumpy start to the competition.

"In rehearsal I went flying," laughed Susanna. "I came down the dance floor and tripped over Kevin and Deborah [Meaden] and ended up on my face at Brendan [Cole]'s feet."

The star of BBC Breakfast, who commutes daily from London to Manchester for her job, has already worked out a plan to balance her work and Strictly schedule.

"Kevin's going to come to Manchester and we'll train up there," she said. "Then I'll take some time off Breakfast in between. We'll squeeze it in — other people are working as well as training."

Former Breakfast sports presenter and Strictly winner Chris Hollins will no doubt be cheering his colleague on.

"Chris has been incredibly supportive," she said. "He's been brilliant and he absolutely loved him time on Strictly, so I think he's really pleased that someone else is going to have that experience. It's going to be lovely that he's there to hold my hand."


Ashley Taylor Dawson and his dance partner Ola Jordan

The mother-of-three and Abbey aren't the only contestants who will miss spending time away from their family. Actor Ashley Taylor Dawson and his girlfriend are expecting their second baby at the end of this month, when the Hollyoaks hunk will be a few weeks into the show.

"The baby's due on the 26th of September," said Ashley. "We've got a little two-and-a-half year old boy and we're expecting another boy. We haven't got a name yet though —that's still to come."

When asked whether the lovebirds were heading down the aisle anytime soon, Ashley said, "We're just concentrating on our family because that's what comes first in my eyes. All the wedding stuff can come later — there's no rush."
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