It's a Strictly tradition that the winner from the previous series returns to open the next one, but sadly for fans, this year Joe McFadden will not perform in the first episode. A spokesperson for Strictly confirmed to HELLO!: "We invite last year's winners back for an encore performance to kick-off the new series. However, sadly on this occasion Joe isn't able to perform."
The Holby City actor won the 2017 series with Katya Jones, beating finalists Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson. The 42-year-old was the oldest winner in the show's history. After host Tess Daly announced his name, Joe said: "Oh my goodness! It's completely surreal! We did it!" as he hugged his dance partner Katya.
See the 2018 line-up:
Claudia Winkleman then asked Joe: "Joe McFadden, when you arrived here 13 weeks ago, would you ever, ever, have imagined that you'd be taking that home?" Joe replied: "Not in a million years. It feels completely surreal and I'm so in awe of everyone who started all those weeks ago. We've all become such a tight unit and I love them all to bits. Every one of us here are winners because we've gotten here."
Joe said of his dance partner Katya, who is married to Strictly backing dancer Neil Jones: "And this woman is the most amazing woman. Thank you so much for sticking with me and persevering and being the most amazing artist and dancer and counsellor and slave driver. She's amazing, utterly, utterly, amazing." An overwhelmed Katya replied: "We did it! We did it!!"
Joe and Katya won the 2017 series
Filming for the 2018 series began on Friday, with the first episode airing on Saturday 8 September. The first live show will take place on Saturday 22 September. This year's 15 contestants include Katie Piper, Ashley Roberts, Lee Ryan, Faye Tozer, Susannah Constantine and Kate Silverton.
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