The 2023 season of Strictly Come Dancing commenced on Saturday night, with all 15 celebrities making their debut on the dance floor. Throughout the series, these celebrities will compete weekly to determine who will win the Glitterball trophy in December. The show, broadcast on BBC1 and hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, welcomed back judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke, and Shirley Ballas.
Now, let’s delve into the details of this year’s Strictly pairings, so you’re fully informed.
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Amanda, the 49-year-old actress best known for her roles in “Sherlock,” “Mr. Selfridge” as Josie Mardle, and “Sherlock” as Mary Morstan, has been paired with the beloved veteran dancer Giovanni on the show. Giovanni is well-liked by the show’s dedicated audience and previously clinched the Glitterball Trophy with his partner, EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis.
During a conversation with Claudia, Amanda expressed her joy about their partnership, stating, “I’m overjoyed; we have a great rapport, share the same sense of humor, and are both committed to working hard.”
Giovanni, when asked about Amanda’s reaction to their pairing, replied, “Her reaction was quite something, to be honest, and there was also some joyful screaming that I thoroughly enjoyed… These are truly happy days.”
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima
Zara, aged 26, who admitted to being “probably the most nervous I’ve been in my life” before the pairing, was matched with the professional dancer Graziano.
Prior to her appearance on the show, Zara worked as a policy advisor for the Department for Education. She gained recognition as a contestant on the fourth season of Love Island and later made appearances on The X Factor: Celebrity and Made in Chelsea.
Expressing her apprehension before the competition, the reality star shared, “I’m not naturally inclined towards performing or being extroverted, so this is the most significant challenge I’ve ever faced!”
Graziano offered words of encouragement to Zara, saying, “The sky is the limit! Stay positive throughout.”
For their first dance, Graziano and Zara performed the Cha Cha Cha.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał
The English cyclist and former swimmer, Jody, and the reigning professional champion, Jowita, were selected as partners for the dancing show.
When Tess asked if the Paralympian athlete would find Strictly easy, Jody, aged 44, responded, “I’d like to believe so, but I don’t anticipate it being a walk in the park. I’m a complete beginner in this arena, whereas I had years of practice in my previous sports. So, let’s aim high and see what unfolds!”
After their pairing, Jowita expressed her nerves, saying, “I must confess I’m a bit anxious because I don’t want to disappoint him, but I have plenty of creative ideas.”
Jody has an impressive athletic history, representing Great Britain at seven Summer Paralympics and securing eight Gold, one Silver, and three Bronze medals in swimming and cycling events.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley
For the 2023 season of Strictly Come Dancing, Krishnan was matched with Lauren.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy is a well-known British journalist and broadcaster who serves as the lead presenter for Channel 4 News and hosts Unreported World, a documentary series focusing on foreign affairs.
During the show’s launch, Krishnan expressed his delight with the pairing, saying, “It’s absolutely fantastic, and she understands me perfectly.”
This marks Lauren’s first celebrity partnership, and she commented, “While it may be my first time being paired with a celebrity, I understand that it’s a significant challenge for them to step out and dance. So, I believe my role is to be supportive and boost your confidence to have a good time. But when it’s time to be strict, rest assured, I know how to be strict!”
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington
This season, Angela, who is 78 years old, was partnered with the well-liked dancer Kai.
Angela has a distinguished career as a television journalist, newsreader, writer, and presenter. She initially presented news programs on both radio and television in South West England and later became a regular presenter on BBC One’s Nine O’Clock News in 1975.
Kai expressed his enthusiasm about their pairing, saying, “I couldn’t have been happier when I found out I’d be partnering with Angela, I assure you.”
He further added, “I am absolutely thrilled to have Angela as my partner; I believe we’re going to make a fantastic team.”
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin
Layton has been partnered with Nikita Kuzmin, who has been a professional dancer on the show for two years now.
Layton is most recognized for his portrayal of Stephen Carmichael in the TV series Bad Education and his notable work in London’s West End theatre. Impressively, Layton’s career started early as he landed his first role at the age of twelve, playing the title character in Billy Elliot the Musical on the West End stage.
Discussing their partnership, Layton remarked, “Nikita is going to whip me into shape and keep me on the right track because I tend to believe I know what I’m doing and overdo it, but truthfully, I’m quite clueless!”
Claudia asked Nikita about Layton’s prior dance experience, to which Nikita responded, “Ballroom and Latin dance styles are entirely different from Layton’s previous experience. The technique, posture, and especially the coordination are all distinct, so he has a lot to learn, and I’m excited to teach him.”
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones
The actor Nigel, aged 50, has been selected to be paired with Katya, who has been a long-standing presence on the show.
Nigel is most recognized for his roles as Dennis Rickman in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, Bradley Dawson in Sky One’s Mount Pleasant, and Max Cristie in the BBC medical drama Casualty.
Claudia informed Nigel that Katya can be quite demanding on the launch show and inquired if he was prepared.
Nigel responded, “Everyone keeps mentioning this, and each time they do, I become more and more anxious. However, I’m putting on a facade of being calm about it.”
Regarding what Katya has in mind for Nigel, she commented, “Ideas will develop as we get to know each other better.”
Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell
Bobby, a 20-year-old, was teamed up with the popular red-haired dancer Dianne, who also enjoys a strong fan following on the show.
In 2022, Bobby gained widespread recognition when he joined the cast of the BBC One soap opera EastEnders as Freddie Slater, a role that earned him a National Television Award.
Reflecting on their pairing during the launch show, Bobby expressed, “I’m absolutely thrilled!” Dianne added, “I’m overjoyed; I’ve already embraced Bobby as my little brother. I genuinely care about him and just want him to have the most wonderful experience.”
Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer
Eddie, a British-Congolese comedian, presenter, and actor, was matched with the show’s longest-serving professional, Karen.
Reflecting on their partnership, Eddie humorously commented, “She’s a bit like kryptonite… she’s got this ‘ta ta’ sound when you make a slight mistake, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I need to get used to that.'”
Karen chimed in, saying, “He’ll be cracking jokes, but I’ll be the one cracking the whip.”
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe
Annabel had the opportunity to partner with Johannes on Wimbledon’s center court. Annabel, a former professional tennis player and current radio and television presenter, boasts a tennis career that includes winning the WTA Tour event Virginia Slims of San Diego and representing Great Britain in both the Fed Cup and the Wightman Cup.
Expressing her thoughts on their pairing, Annabel stated, “I’ve been blessed with the best partner I could have ever hoped for. Honestly, he’s truly exceptional. Dancing with you is an honor and a privilege, thank you.”
When Claudia inquired about Johannes’ plans for the first week, he assured Annabel, “My darling, I’m going to put you through your paces, but the most crucial thing is that we’re going to have a great time.”
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola
This year, actress Ellie, aged 22, was partnered with Vito, who joined the show two years ago.
Ellie is renowned for her role as Faye Windass on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, a role she portrayed from 2011 to 2023.
When Claudia inquired about their partnership, Ellie expressed her enthusiasm, saying, “I’m absolutely thrilled that Vito is my partner. Honestly, I’m so excited, and I believe we’re going to have an incredibly enjoyable time together.”
Vito echoed her sentiments, stating, “I’m just looking forward to having the most fantastic time with Ellie. My goal is to embark on a wonderful journey together and simply enjoy ourselves.”
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk
During last week’s launch show for Strictly Come Dancing, Adam and Luba were paired together.
Adam, an actor renowned for his portrayals of Donte Charles in the BBC One school-based drama series Waterloo Road and Adam Barton in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale, has also previously appeared as a contestant on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!.
Discussing their pairing, Adam exclaimed, “I’m absolutely thrilled with life right now. What’s not to love? I’m part of Strictly Come Dancing, and I have this wonderful partner, a Russian princess. I’m buzzing and completely over the moon.”
Luba chimed in, saying, “I’ve never been this happy, so I’m incredibly excited and can’t wait to dance with you.”
When Claudia asked how much he’s looking forward to learning how to dance, Adam eagerly responded, “I can’t wait. This is precisely why we participate in this show – to learn how to dance.”
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu
On the launch show, Angela was partnered with Carlos.
Angela is an Irish television presenter and broadcaster who has worked for both RTÉ and the BBC. Her television career began in Ireland, where she hosted various programs on RTÉ, including the documentary “Oi Ginger!” in 2014.
Expressing her thoughts on their pairing, Angela exclaimed, “Thank you, universe. I believe Carlos will be an excellent teacher for me. He has a direct approach, and I feel like his straightforwardness, even if it’s brutally honest, is something I might respond to positively.”
Claudia inquired whether this would be the year Carlos wins, to which he confidently responded, “Oh, absolutely. I’ve devised a better plan, and we’re going for the Glitter Ball. We’ll take it one step at a time, no need to rush.”
Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez
Nikita, aged 28, was paired with another seasoned veteran of the show, Gorka.
Nikita is a radio presenter and broadcaster who joined the BBC Asian Network in 2021. In July 2022, she took on the role of presenter for the Asian Network Breakfast.
When discussing her family’s reaction to her participation in the show, Nikita shared, “My mom shed tears of joy. It’s brought happiness to everyone and put smiles on their faces.”
Claudia asked Nikita about her dancing abilities, to which she replied, “I’m known for being a party animal, but when it comes to choreography, that’s why I’m here – to learn. I need to acquire some new skills; right now, I’m like, one arm up in the air.”
Gorka offered words of encouragement, saying, “Even if things don’t go perfectly, don’t lose your confidence. Always believe in yourself; I already have faith in you, and it’s going to be fantastic!” He also revealed that their first dance would be the waltz, and they’ve chosen the team name “Gorkita.”
Les Dennis and Nancy Xu
During the launch show of Strictly Come Dancing, Nancy was paired with the showbiz icon, Les.
Les is a television presenter, actor, and comedian renowned for his long-running stint as the host of Family Fortunes from 1987 until 2002.
Expressing his thoughts on the show, Les remarked, “I thrive on challenges, and this is the most significant challenge I’ve ever taken on. I’m incredibly excited about it and can’t wait to get started.”
Regarding their partnership, he added, “I couldn’t be happier. From the moment I met Nancy, I knew I could learn a lot from her. She’s an excellent teacher and brimming with enthusiasm.”
Nancy chimed in, saying, “I’m incredibly excited, and in fact, we’ve already begun our journey.”
Les also revealed that in addition to dancing, Nancy is teaching him to speak “scouse,” a regional accent from Liverpool.
Source: Daily Mail