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All the Strictly pairings for 2020 revealed

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 17/10/2020 Katie Fitzpatrick

The couples competing in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing have been revealed in the eagerly-awaited launch show.

Men Behaving Badly actress Caroline Quentin, 60, was partnered with Johannes Radebe who won hearts last year on the dancefloor with former Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley.

The TV star said she was "beside herself with joy" to have been paired with Johannes on the BBC One dance contest.

She also said she dreamed of being a dancer when she was a child.

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe © BBC Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe

She said: "I went to ballet school as a little girl, I loved it and my dream was to become a ballerina.

"In truth I wasn't quite good enough.

"I was a little bit short and a little bit round and I have always had a kind of longing to see if I could be better at it."

Aljaz Skorjanec posing for the camera: Aljaž Škorjanec and Clara Amfo © BBC Aljaž Škorjanec and Clara Amfo

BBC Radio One presenter Clara Amfo, 36, was partnered with Aljaz Skorjanec.

"I am so pleased to be paired with Aljaz, his energy I connect to," she said.

Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh, 43, was delighted to be partnered with Giovanni Pernice.

Ranvir Singh smiling and posing for a picture: Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice © BBC Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice

Singh said: "Giovanni was hand on heart the dancer that I really, really wanted."

Anton Du Beke, who was paired with former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, 57, tweeted to say it is a "tremendous achievement" to get the programme back on television screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He wrote: "So excited that Strictly series 18 is all systems go - such a tremendous achievement by everyone involved in making this happen!"

Anton du Beke, Jacqui Smith are posing for a picture: Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke © BBC Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke

Jacqui said: "I'm completely out of my comfort zone but I'm going to prove that even when you are in your late 50s you can learn new things and find joy in a new adventure."

Former boxer Nicola Adams will make history as part of the show's first ever same-sex pairing between a celebrity and a professional dancer.

The Olympic champion, 37, has been teamed up with pro Katya Jones, 31.

Nicola Adams et al. posing for a picture: Nicola Adams and Katya Jones © BBC Nicola Adams and Katya Jones

Katya said: ''I think the beauty of this partnership is it's never been done before on Strictly so basically we are free to do what we want, there's no real rules.''

And Nicola says she is ''so excited'' to have announced her partner.


Gallery: Strictly Come Dancing 2020 celebrity partners announced in fabulous launch episode (Hello!)

'I couldn't have been paired with a better partner than a fellow champ in her own right and I can't wait to see what creative dance routines Katya comes up with," she said.

a woman in a blue dress: Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez © BBC Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez

EastEnders actress Maisie Smith, 19, will be the partner of Gorka Marquez.

Gorka found love with former contestant Gemma Atkinson, from Bury, on the show in 2017.

Maisie, who plays Tiffany Butcher in the BBC One soap, said: "As much as I'm excited, I'm also nervous. This is a whole new experience for me."

a man and a woman posing for a picture: Amy Dowden and JJ Chalmers © BBC Amy Dowden and JJ Chalmers

Scottish TV presenter JJ Chalmers, 33, will compete alongside Amy Dowden.

Comedian Bill Bailey, 55, has been paired with Oti Mabuse. And The Wanted's Max George, 32, from Bolton, will perform with Dianne Buswell.

YouTube star HRVY, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, 21, is coupled with Janette Manrara.

Janette Manrara posing for a picture: HRVY and Janette Manrara © BBC HRVY and Janette Manrara

He discussed his recent positive test for Covid-19 as he was introduced to viewers.

''I did test positive for coronavirus but I isolated with my family and we followed the government guidelines and I'm here,'' he said.

Discussing his partnership, he added that he thinks they will be a ''fiery mess''.

Jason Bell posing for the camera: Luba Mushtuk and Jason Bell © BBC Luba Mushtuk and Jason Bell

Former NFL star Jason Bell, 42, will perform with Luba Mushtuk.

He said that dancing is similar to his past profession, adding: ''It is all about footwork.''

Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing, 31, will dance with Karen Hauer.

Jamie Laing, Karen Hauer are posing for a picture: Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer © BBC Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer

The reality TV personality is pleased to have been given a second chance at performing on the show after he was forced to pull out last year through injury and was replaced by Kelvin Fletcher who went on to lift the glitterball trophy with Oti.

The show is taking in front of a socially-distanced audience, and this year's contestants are subject to strict coronavirus rules.

Either the professional dancer or the celebrity will be living on their own for the duration of the series as they form a support bubble.

Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey © BBC Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas have returned to the panel but Bruno Tonioli is absent from the launch as he is in America working on their version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars.

The BBC has previously said he will join remotely for the Sunday night results show and is due to return full-time towards the end of the series.

This series is shorter this year starting in October instead of September because of the pandemic.

Max George posing for the camera: Max George and Dianne Buswell © BBC Max George and Dianne Buswell

The BBC has explained that it is 'doing everything possible' to protect the cast, crew and audience during the filming of Strictly Come Dancing 2020.

Show bosses explained: "To make it more manageable during these unprecedented times, we have a smaller crew, fewer episodes and less couples.

"We are using many creative solutions as well as recognised measures to be able to bring Strictly to your screens, including: isolation, testing, working from home when possible, increased cleaning, sanitizing, bubbles and cohorts.

"We are following the current Government advice, industry and BBC specific guidelines and are constantly reviewing and adapting our plans whenever needed."

"It has never felt so good to be back," said host Tess Daly.

She and co-host Claudia Winkleman took to the stage and explained they had to stand two metres apart because of social distancing.

And they have a smaller studio audience this year at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire who are kept apart in household groups.

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