Strictly Come Dancing: pairings confirmed as series launches

Strictly come Dancing 2013 has kicked off, with some sizzling dancefloor action promised as the 15 celebrities were paired with their professional partners.

And it could turn out to be a particularly good year for pro dancers Pasha Kovalev and Artem Chigvintsev, who were partnered up with two of this year’s favourites.

Pasha – who has reached the final for the past two years with Chelsee Healey and Kimberley Walsh – will attempt to make it third time lucky with Countdown’s Rachel Riley.

Meanwhile former series champion Artem will this year partner former Coronation Street star Natalie Gumede – who has been installed as the series favourite.

Elsewhere 2012 semi-finalist Robin Windsor will partner Deborah Meaden, while there was good news for Brendan Cole as he was paired up with Murder On The Dancefloor singer Sophie Ellis Bextor.

And despite the speculation that he may land Vanessa Feltz, Anton du Beke will in fact partner former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton.

The female line-up is completed by Susannah Reid, who will partner series newcomer Kevin Clifton, Abbey Clancy – who will dance with another newcomer, Aljaz Skornajec, and Vanessa Feltz, who has been teamed with James Jordan.

On the male-female side front-runners Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ben Cohen have been paired up with Ola Jordan and Kristina Rihanoff respectively.

Designer Julien McDonald will partner one of the new professional dancers, Janette Manrara, while actor Mark Benton has also nabbed a newbie in the shape of Iveta Lukosiute.

The final new dancer, Anya Garnis, will make her Strictly debut with Casualty star Patrick Robinson.

The line-up is completed by golf legend Tony Jacklin – who will perform with Aliona Vilani – and Hairy Biker chef Dave Myers, who will dance with Karen Hauer.

Strictly returns to screens for the first live show on September 28.