From sizzling partnerships with Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima to Hamza Yassinha’s return and heartfelt tributes – everything you missed on Strictly Come Dancing
Come dance strictly made a triumphant return to TV screens on Saturday as the latest crop of dazzling celebrities took to the dance floor.
The very first episode saw the contestant’s professional partners revealed for the first time, with the cast performing an energetic group routine.
And fans raved about the producer’s decisions as they cheered Zara McDermott and her professional partner Graziano di Prima ‘the hottest mating ever.’
Elsewhere, last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha made an emotional return as he broke down in tears while reminiscing about his time on the programme.
The show also included a moving tribute to the late Len Goodman and sent a message to their ‘Welsh dragon’ Amy Dowden, who is currently battling cancer.
Here’s everything you missed in the first episode of Strictly Come Dancing.
Glitzy return: Strictly’s very first episode saw the contestant’s professional partners revealed for the first time, with the cast performing an energetic group routine
Packed: Elsewhere, last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha made an emotional return… here’s everything you missed
So who is paired with whom?
Zara McDermott and Graziano DiPrima are set to Cha-Cha-Cha, while Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin will form a male partnership.
The first couple announced on the show were actress Amanda Abbington and dancer Giovanni Pernice.
Jody Cundy CBE was paired with reigning champion Jowita Przystał, while Channel 4 journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy teamed up with Lauren Oakley.
Then Angela Rippon was paired with Kai Widdrington, while Nigel Harman was paired with Katya Jones.
Bobby Brazier was joined by Dianne Buswell and comedian Eddie Kadi was paired with longest-serving professional Karen Hauer.
Annabel Croft is together with Johannes Radebe, actor Ellie Leach was then linked to Vito Coppola.
Actor Adam Thomas turned out to be Luba Mushtuk, Angela Scanlon was paired with Carlos Gu and finally Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez.
Pairing: Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin will form a male partnership
Firework! Fans were quick to hail Zara McDermott, 26, and her professional partner Graziano Di Prima, 29, ‘the hottest pairing ever’ when the couple was first revealed
Viewers were thrilled that Zara was linked to Graziano
Fans were quick to hail Zara McDermott, 26, and her professional partner Graziano Di Prima, 29, ‘the hottest pairing ever’ as the pair were revealed for the first time.
Viewers joked that the Love Island star’s boyfriend Sam Thompson must be ‘sweating at home’ as they praised the ‘absolute fire’ partnership.
Zara and Graziano will dance the Cha Cha Cha for their first performance, with the TV personality admitting her nerves.
One fan shared their thoughts on Twitter: ‘Zara and Graziano look beautiful together. I fully support them.’
‘Zara and Graziano might be the most popular duo ever?! good lord,” another agreed.
A third echoed: “Zara and Graz can be absolute fire!”
Someone else joked: ‘I know Sam Thompson is currently at home crying watching Zara and Graziano.’
Last year’s winner, Hamza Yassinha, burst into tears upon his return
Last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha made an emotional return to the dance floor with partner Jowita Przystał for the launch of the new series.
The Wildlife presenter, 33, broke down in tears as he described his stint on the show after once impressing with a performance of his high-scoring Salsa.
After the judges discussed the routine, a tearful Hamza said: “(Strictly) is the best thing I’ve ever done, I’ve been all over the world.”
‘Strictly has just ended, why am I crying? Strictly speaking, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done.’
Turning to Jowita he said, “I share the stage with this lovely lady and the things she has taught me about life, Jowita, strictly speaking, thank you.”
Fans were excited to see Hamza on the show again, with some even stating that he should win the show for the second time.
Emotional: Last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha emotionally returned to the dance floor with partner Jowita Przystał for the launch of the new series
A tribute to Amy Dowden in her battle against cancer
Strictly Come Dancing paid an emotional tribute to Amy Dowden after the dancer was forced to miss the series’ glitzy launch on Saturday due to her battle with cancer.
Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly dubbed her the show’s ‘Welsh Dragon’ as they dedicated the judges and professional dancers’ routine to her.
Caerphilly-born Amy, 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer cancer earlier in May and started chemotherapy after doctors discovered another type of cancer in her body, meaning she couldn’t be paired with a celebrity for the new series.
Speaking ahead of the show-stopping routine, Tess said: ‘We are obviously missing one of our professional dancers.
‘Our beautiful Amy Dowden is unwell and she won’t be able to be with us for the start of the series.’
She continued: ‘But she is our Welsh dragon and we know she will be back soon.’
Claudia then intervened as she said: “Amy, from your entire Strictly family, we’re sending all our love and we can’t wait to have you back on the dance floor.”
Tess added: ‘This (dance) is for you!’.
Support: The cast paid an emotional tribute to Amy Dowden after the dancer was forced to miss the series’ glitzy launch on Saturday amid her battle with cancer (Amy pictured)
Tribute: Len Goodman was praised by the cast of Strictly Come Dancing during the launch show on Saturday evening
The late and great Len Goodman was remembered
Len Goodman was praised by the cast of Strictly Come Dancing during the launch show on Saturday evening.
Tess Daley, Claudia Winkleman, Anton Du Beke, Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and others were among the stars who shared their memories of the beloved icon, who lost his battle with bone cancer earlier this year at the age of 78.
Claudia opened the tribute, with the Strictly host telling the audience: ‘He was part of Strictly Come Dancing from the very beginning and he was crucial to the show.
“He meant so much to all of us and we would like to share some of our favorite memories of Len with you.”
Tess went on to say he was a “true gentleman.” She added: “He was just so good-natured, so warm and the Len you saw on TV was the Len you saw in real life. There was no separation.”
Shirley Ballas described Len as a “personal friend” and someone who was “loved and respected around the world.”
Craig called Len one of his “best friends” and added that he would have loved to say “goodbye” to the late entertainer.
‘I don’t think I’ll meet anyone that funny. He was someone who really made other people laugh. I loved our little fights, and that bonded us and gave us a truly wonderful friendship.
“If you asked me if Len is one of your best friends, I would say absolutely. I would like to say goodbye to him,” the judge said.
Strictly Come Dancing 2023: Who are the couples?
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones
Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer
Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe
Elle Leach and Vito Coppola
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu
Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez
Les Dennis and Nancy Xu