With more than 13 million viewers, a magical mix of celebrity dancers and a perfectly pitched judging panel, the last series of Strictly Come Dancing was the most successful yet, with the likes of investigative reporter Stacey Dooley, blogger Joe Sugg and Paralympian Lauren Steadman waltzing their way into the nation's hearts as they competed to lift the coveted Glitterball trophy. "The first thing that has to be right is the pairings and I think they get it right every year, but this year especially it was done incredibly well," professional dancer Aljaz Skorjanec told HELLO! during the rehearsals for this year's tour.
The fun begins this week in Birmingham and takes in cities including Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds before the final encore in London on 9-10 February. Rehearsals are well under way and last week we were given the chance to chat to all seven couples who will be taking part, as they worked on their new fancy footwork. And, after the fun of the last series, they were all delighted to be back on the dancefloor. "I can imagine, after the tour ends, it's going to be so weird to not dance," Joe shared, while his professional partner – and now girlfriend – Dianne Buswell added: "It's going to be like the end of an era."
It's been a whirlwind for Strictly winner Stacey, who has barely been able to keep her feet on the ground. "I feel a mixture of emotions but the overriding feeling is that I'm very grateful," she revealed in her first magazine interview since winning with dance pro Kevin Clifton. "You don't take it for granted that people will get behind you and vote for you so I feel really lucky. It’s been wicked."
Kevin was not available for the tour, but Stacey was delighted with his replacement, Aljaz Skorjanec. "We've never danced before but we had a great time and Aljaz is a dream," she said. "He is very similar to Kevin in terms of his temperament – he's chilled and just wants to enjoy it with no pressure. I can't wait to get going."
To read the full story, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out on Monday 14 January
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