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Claudia Winkleman, Tess Daly, Strictly pros split image© BBC

Inside Strictly's 20th-anniversary plans: from 'off the charts' celeb line-up to new 'twists' and Aljaž Škorjanec's return

Head judge Shirley Ballas has teased new '"twists and turns"

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
5 days ago
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Strictly Come Dancing waltzes back onto our screens in the autumn for what promises to be an "extra special" series as the show turns 20. 

Of course, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be back at the helm as hosts, while Shirley Ballas heads up the judging panel, featuring Craig Revel-Horwood, Anton Du Beke, and Motsi Mabuse. But what special "twists and turns" has the show got up its sleeve?

Keep reading for all we know…

WATCH: Strictly Come Dancing's most amazing perfect 40 dances

Special one-off episode 

As well as the upcoming series, Strictly will mark its 20th birthday with an "unmissable" one-off episode, which comes to BBC One and iPlayer later this year.

The episode promises a "journey through 20 years of unforgettable entertainment featuring iconic performances and plenty of heart-warming interviews with past celebrity stars, professional dancers, and judges too," according to the BBC. 

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly© Guy Levy
A one-off episode will air on BBC One later this year

'Off-the-charts' celebrity line-up

Strictly has yet to reveal which famous faces will be waltzing their way onto the iconic ballroom floor this series – but it's set to be "off the charts". 

Teasing the line-up while appearing on Katie Piper's breakfast show, head judge Shirley Ballas said: "The celebrities will be announced, I believe in July. I think it's coming up rather soon.

Shirley dazzles every week with her glam hair, makeup and wardrobe choices© Instagram
Shirley Ballas teased an 'off-the-charts' celebrity line-up

"It's going to be absolutely off the charts," she continued. Just when you think the show can't get any better, it does. We've got a great professional line-up, of course, Tess and Claudia are back."

Meanwhile, pro dancer Karen Hauer said the show will "go all out" for the milestone series. "I'm pretty sure they'll go all out and I can't wait for it," she told HELLO! in an exclusive interview. "Every year we get such incredible celebrities and even if you don't know them at the time, they become household names eventually because Strictly is such a massive show and it launches your career forward even more."

The 42-year-old added: "I know that they definitely have some good things up their sleeve."

Karen Hauer on Strictly Come Dancing© Ray Burmiston/BBC
Karen Hauer said the show will 'go all out'

New twists and turns 

Fans can also expect to see some new "twists and turns" in the upcoming season, according to Shirley. 

Chatting with HELLO! on the red carpet of the TRIC Awards in June, the ballroom dancer revealed what she's most looking forward to about the new series. "I'm most excited to let you all see what the BBC has come up with," she said. "The show will always be tweaked, never completely changed. They'll be twists and turns and maybe a few more different themed weeks."

Anton du Beke; Shirley Ballas; Motsi Mabuse; Craig Revel Horwood,© Ray Burmiston
Shirley will head the judging panel, featuring Anton du Beke, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood

Aljaž Škorjanec's return

After a two-year break, fan favourite pro dancer Aljaž Škorjanec is returning to the ballroom floor for the 20th anniversary series. 

The Slovenian dancer, who's married to It Takes Two host and former pro Janette Manrara, said he "could not be more ecstatic" to be reunited with his Strictly family. 

Aljaz Skorjanec returning to Strictly Come Dancing
Aljaz Skorjanec is returning for the new series

"This year is such a special one for this legendary show, can’t wait to be a part of it and make my return to the dancefloor," said the dancer, who welcomed his first baby, Lyra, with Janette in July last year. 

"I had an absolute ball during my nine-year stint on Strictly, during my time away I became a parent, which has been an exciting challenge in itself and now I'm ready to experience the Strictly magic again," he continued, adding: "It feels so right to be coming back, I missed the fun, glitter and the judges of course and I hope to make my daughter Lyra proud!"

Strictly pro dancers

Strictly favourites Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Amy Dowden, and Karen Hauer will all reprise their roles as pro dancers in the upcoming series. They'll be joined by Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, Gorka Marquez, Luba Mushtuk, Jowita Przystal, Johannes Radebe, Kai Widdrington, and Nancy Xu. 

Nadiya with Strictly pro Kai Widdrington© Instagram
Kai and Nadiya will be back as pro dancers

Rounding out the pro line-up are Carlos Gu, Lauren Oakley, Michelle Tsiakkas and Vito Coppola.

One dancer who won't be featured in the new series is Giovanni Pernice, who has been on the show since 2015. The announcement came in June, just weeks after the Italian pro denied reports about his teaching methods.

Giovanni Pernice in a green suit© Shutterstock
Giovanni will not return to the show

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