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Strictly Come Dancing: everything you need to know about new series

Find out who's dancing and how the show will be different this year

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Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior Features Writer
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When Strictly Come Dancing aired its launch show earlier this month, all of sudden things felt a bit more normal, right? Although it's going to look slightly different in some ways this year, the ballroom competition's return has come at the perfect time and we can't wait for the dancing to begin.

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If you're wanting all of the details before the show starts then look no further. From who's dancing with who to how the show will differ this year – here's all you need to know…

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When do the Strictly Come Dancing live shows start?

Last weekend saw the launch show bring all of our favourite pro-dancers together with their shiny new celebrity partners, and luckily we don't have to wait long for their first dance. The first live show of the competition is on BBC One on Saturday 24 October at 7.30pm. We can't wait!

How is Strictly Come Dancing going ahead this year?

The coronavirus pandemic threw plenty of TV shows into question but, fortunately, Strictly have managed to work out around it.

The dancers and celebrities have been able to be partnered up this year because they have formed support bubbles and isolated together prior to rehearsing. The celebrities have also made sacrifices by leaving their families behind to keep in line with the government regulations surrounding the pandemic. The length of the competition is shorter this year, running for eight weeks instead of its usual 15 weeks. 

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strictly bbc 2020© Photo: BBC

The dancers and celebs have formed 'bubbles'

Are the Strictly Come Dancing judges back?

Mostly, yes. Craig Revel-Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and head judge Shirley Ballas are returning to their positions on the judging panel (while keeping a two metre distance) but Bruno Tonioli will be mostly absent this year.

The choreographer, who has been a judge since the beginning, resides in the US where he is also a judge for Dancing With the Stars, so travel restrictions mean he is unable to take part in the UK show. However, he will be dialling in via video link on a Sunday to give his two cents.

strictly motsi© Photo: BBC

Judges Motsi, Craig and Shirley are returning

Will there be a Strictly Come Dancing live audience?

Executive Producer for the show, Sarah James, told press last month that the BBC has planned for a live audience and no live audience, so it's likely that it'll be reassessed as the competition goes on depending on the implementation of government restrictions.

strictly tess and claudia© Photo: BBC

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are back fronting the show

Sarah explained: "We've made plans for no audience, we've made plans for a distanced audience, and we've made plans for a full audience. Whatever happens, we'll obviously just be following the government guidelines."

The launch show saw a number of audience members sat in the seats wearing masks and distanced from other groups.

Who are the Strictly Come Dancing pairings?

There are in fact fewer celebrities this year, with 12 famous faces taking part instead of the usual 15. Due to the competition being a shorter run, the smaller number makes sense.

strictly couples© Photo: BBC

Katya Jones and Nicola Adams are making Strictly history as first same-sex couple

The pairings are as follows: Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe; Clara Amfo and Aljaž Škorjanec; Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke; Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez; Nicola Adams and Katya Jones; Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice; Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse; HRVY and Janette Manrara; Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer; Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk; JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden; Max George and Dianne Buswell. Find out their first routines here. 

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