Strictly: Men take to the floor!

The new series of Strictly Come Dancing kicked off on Saturday evening with performances from the male contestants and their dance partners.

The show – once again hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly – features 14 celebrities who have teamed up with expert dancers in the quest to become series champions.

And in the first week, it was the turn of the male contestants to strut their stuff.

EastEnders star Matt Di Angelo – who plays Deano Wicks on the soap – kicked things off, dancing a cha cha cha with partner Flavia Cacace to the Tom Jones hit Mama Told Me Not To Come.

He received a mixed response from the judges with Len Goodman criticising the pair for being “careful”. Bruno Tonioli gave a similar response.

“I didn’t feel carried away by it,” he said. “I know it’s tough starting the show but you have to come out here and sell it.”

Bruno was similarly dismissive of Brian Capron – aka Corrie’s serial killer Richard Hillman, describing his waltz as “funereal”. Arlene Phillips agreed. “It felt less like a waltz and more like a wake,” she pointed out.

There was however praise for TV presenter Dominic Littlewood and his partner Lilia Kopylova, who danced to The Shoop Shoop Song. Len Goodman called the routine “fun” while Craig Revel Horwood described it as “camper than the entire show”.

And snooker player Willie Thorne also impressed the judges. “Whoever said you can’t teach an old new tricks was wrong,” Len Goodman told him. “For a first week that was outstanding.” And Craig Revel Horwood praised Thorne for being “remarkably light on his feet”.

Next up was Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones and partner Camilla Dallerup, who performed an energetic routine to disco classic I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet – but the judges remained unimpressed.

“It was completely square and clumsy,” complained Craig Revel Horwood, adding that the pair would have to rely on their good looks to get through. “You’re the most gorgeous looking couple on earth,” added Arlene Phillips, “Where did your hip action go?”

Len Goodman, however, was kinder. “We’re looking for potential, and for me I found it quite a pleasant routine.”

Rugby star Kenny Logan, meanwhile, was described as “stilted” by Bruno Tonioli and “stiff” by Arlene Phillips.

However former footballer John Barnes made a better impression, with Bruno Tonioli describing him and dance partner Nicole Cutler as “bright” and Craig Revel Horwood saying he had “a lot of potential” – and with 26 points from the judges, the couple shot straight to the top of the leader board.

The men then took a back seat while the women performed a group routine – with the judges reserving special praise for Letitia Dean and Penny Lancaster – and the general standard of dancing causing some excitement among the panel.

The results of the public vote will be announced on Sunday night’s show, with the two least popular couples – based on the judges’ scores and the amount of votes from the public – will have to dance for survival, with the judges deciding who should get the boot.

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