Strictly Come Dancing made a triumphant return to TV screens on Saturday as the latest batch 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 were elated with the producer’s decisions as they hailed Zara McDermott and her professional partner Graziano Di Prima ‘the hottest paring 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 featured a poignant 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 on the first episode of Strictly Come Dancing.
Glitzy return: The very first episode of Strictly saw the contestant’s professional partners revealed for the first time with the cast performing an energetic group routine
Jam-packed: Elsewhere, last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha made an emotional return… here is everything you missed
So, who is paired with who?
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 during the show was actress Amanda Abbington and dancer Giovanni Pernice.
Jody Cundy CBE was paired with reigning champion Jowita Przystał while Channel 4 journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy was partnered with Lauren Oakley.
Next up 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 with Johannes Radebe , actor Ellie Leach was then paired with Vito Coppola.
Actor Adam Thomas was revealed to be Luba Mushtuk, Angela Scanlon was paired with Carlos Gu, and finally Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez.
Pair: Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin will form a male partnership
Fire! Fans were quick to hail Zara McDermott, 26, and her professional partner Graziano Di Prima , 29, ‘the hottest paring ever’ as the couple’s were revealed for the first time
Viewers were elated that Zara was paired with Graziano
Fans were quick to hail Zara McDermott, 26, and her professional partner Graziano Di Prima, 29, ‘the hottest paring ever’ as the couple’s were revealed for the first time.
Viewers joked the Love Island star’s boyfriend Sam Thompson ‘must be sweating’ at home as they heaped praise on the ‘absolute fire’ partnership.
Zara and Graziano will dance the Cha Cha Cha for their first performance, with the TV personality admitting her nerves.
Sharing their thoughts on Twitter one fan wrote: ‘Zara and Graziano look gorgeous together. Backing them all the way.’
‘Zara and Graziano might be the hottest pairing there’s ever been?! good lord,’ another agreed.
A third echoed: ‘Zara and Graz could be absolute fire!’
Someone else joked: ‘I know Sam Thompson is crying at home right now watching Zara and Graziano.’
Last year’s winner Hamza Yassinha broke down in 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 gushed over the routine a tearful Hamza said: ‘[Strictly] is the best thing I have ever done, I’ve been all over the world’.
‘Strictly has just been, why am I crying? Strictly has been, one of the best things I have ever done’.
Turning to Jowita he said: ‘Sharing the stage with this lovely lady and the things she has taught me about life, Jowita, Strictly, thank you’.
Fans were delighted to see Hamza back on the show with some even declaring he should win the show for a second time.
Emotional: 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 paid tribute to Amy Dowden as she battles cancer
Strictly Come Dancing paid an emotional tribute to Amy Dowden after the dancer was forced to miss the series’ glitzy launch on Saturday amid her cancer battle.
Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly called 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 earlier in May and began chemotherapy after doctors discovered another type of cancer in her body, meaning she was unable to be paired with a celebrity for the new series.
Ahead of the show-stopping routine Tess said: ‘We are of course, missing one of our professional dancers.
‘Our gorgeous Amy Dowden is unwell and she can’t be with us for the start of the series.’
She went on: ‘But she is our Welsh dragon and we know she will be back soon.’
Claudia then interjected as she said: ‘Amy from all your Strictly family we are sending all our love and we cannot 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 cancer battle (Amy pictured)
Tributes: Len Goodman was lauded by the cast of Strictly Come Dancing during Saturday nights launch show
The late and great Len goodman was remembered
Len Goodman was lauded by the cast of Strictly Come Dancing during Saturday nights launch show.
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, aged 78.
Claudia opened the tributes, 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’d like to share some of our favourite memories of Len with you.’
Tess went on to say that he was a ‘true gentleman’. She added: ‘He was just so good natured, so warm and the Len that 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 all over the world’.
Craig called Len one his ‘best friends’ adding that he would have like to have said ‘goodbye’ to the late entertainer.
‘I don’t think I’ll meet anyone as funny. He was a person that really made other people smile. I adored our little arguments, and that’s what sort of bonded us and it gave us a really fantastic friendship.
‘If you’d ask me was Len one of your best friends, I would say, absolutely. I would love 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