Brucie launches Strictly, hands over to Tess and Claudia, and the celebs meet their pro partners

So, the rumours were true… Bruce Forsyth did make a return to Strictly Come Dancing as the 12th series launched.

But he didn’t stay long because the first night was really all about the celebrity dancers meeting their professional partners for the first time…

The dance competition’s new co-hosts, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, introduced the 15 celebrities to their ballroom dancing partners, who then swept the celebs up the stairs and off for some serious training.

Here’s who’s dancing with who:

The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge is partnered by Kevin Clifton, his second series after his debut with Susanna Reid in 2013. “Strictly dancing is completely different to anything I do with The Saturday,” Frankie said, looking worried.

Former Casualty star Sunetra Sarker is partnered by Brendan Cole, the first dancer to lift the trophy in series one with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky. “This is for my son, Noah, who wanted me to do Strictly,” Sunetra revealed.

Tennis coach Judy Murray – Andy’s mum – is partnered by Anton Du Beke, a seasoned pro, much like Judy, but he’s never won the glitter ball. “People see me as a bossy mother. This is a chance to show my fun side,” Judy said.

Mrs Brown’s Boys star Jenny Gibney is partnered by Tristan McManus, who joins the series from Dancing With the Stars in America. “I’m looking forward to the tears, the laughter, the dancing,” said Jenny.

Singer/songwriter Pixie Lott is partnered by Trent Whiddon in his first series. Trent is the Australian Professional Ten Dance Champion. “My dance partner will have to come on the road with me,” warned Pixie.

TV presenter Caroline Flack is partnered by Pasha Kovalev, who was runner up in 2012 with Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh. “If I’m dancing to an emotional song there could be tears!” warned Caroline.

This Morning’s showbiz reporter Alison Hammond is partnered by Aljaz Skorjanec, the reigning champ with Abbey Clancy. “I’m loving being in the Strictly bubble. I’m going to bust some moves on the dance floor,” Alison promised.

Antiques expert and TV presenter Tim Wonnacott is partnered by Natalie Lowe, who returns after missing last year through injury. “Being on Strictly has every potential for being a disaster,” said. Tim.

Reality TV star Mark Wright is partnered by Karen Hauer, a graduate from ‘Fame School’ in New York, now in her third series. “I genuinely can not dance. I’m known as ‘Marky No-Moves’. There’s only one thing I can do and that’s go for it,” Mark smiled.

Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills is partnered by Joanne Clifton, sister of Kevin. They’re the first siblings to take part in the show. “I’m very clumsy. If anyone falls, it will be me!” warned Scott.

Blue singer Simon Webbe is partnered by Kristina Rihanoff, who has also been busy choreographing So You Think You Can Dance. “I’m in it to win it,” said Simon.

MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace is partnered by Aliona Vilani, 2011 champ with McBusted’s Harry Judd. “I’m worried about Craig because he was a contestant on MasterChef. I wish I’d let him win now!” Gregg laughed.

EastEnders star Jake Wood is partnered by Janette Manrara, who is in her second season with Strictly, after partnering fashion designer Julian MacDonald in 2013. “It’s so out of my comfort zone,” said Jake. “Bring it on!”

Wildlife TV presenter Steve Backshall is partnered by Ola Jordan, who won series seven with radio and TV presenter Chris Hollins and last year’s Christmas special with JLS singer JB Gill. “Let’s hope that on the dance floor I turn out to be more like a puma than a hippopotamus,” said Steve.

Former professional rugby player-turned-model Thom Evans is partnered by Iveta Luko, who danced with actor Mark Benton in 2013. “I can’t wait to get into the ballroom, I love dancing,” said Thom.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC1 with the lives shows starting on Friday, September 26 and Saturday 27 September.

Click here for our picture special on this series’ dancing couples.

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