Strictly Come Dancing 2022: launch show – live

Key events

Let’s meet our four pros!

Whilst we’ve lost Aljaz and Oti this year, we’ve gained FOUR newbies. So let’s meet European cup winner Vito Coppola, Chinese National Champion Carlos Gu, former Under-21 British National Champion Lauren Oakley and Cyprus Latin dance champion Michelle Tsiakkas.

They are all very young and beautiful, and Vito has a whiff of a man whose shirts inexplicably have no buttons. Must be an Italian thing.

Please note that I have already forgotten all their names. Even four years on, I have to go and look up Graziano every time he appears in a musical interlude.

It’s Will and Nancy!

Apparently Will has seen Anton a the local tip, because they live near each other. If you’ve ever encountered a Strictly star at a local municipal facility, let us know in the comments.

He’s been coupled up with Nancy Xu, who made it all the way to the Semi-final with Rhys Stephenson last year. Can she go one better and waltz Will all the way to the Grand Final? She’s already made it as far as Runcorn.

It’s Kym and Graziano!

Apparently Kym already knows all the Strictly pros because they regularly appear on Morning Live, a BBC daytime show she presents. Did I put ‘current project plugging’ on the bingo? Have a bonus drink anyway. Also she’s just become a grandma for the third time, aged 46. I mean, that’s at least three nana drinks, right?

She’s been partnered with Graziano Di Prima, which could be another very good coupling. Last year Graz was partnered with Judi Love, which has made me want to watch her twerking to Sean Paul’s Get Busy again. What a moment.

It’s Tyler and Dianne!

Tyler’s mum! Drink! He’s been paired with Dianne Buswell, who finds Tyler DJ-ing in a pod on the London Eye. Is that even a thing? Dianne immediately names them Team Ty-Di, and I’m getting good vibes from this partnership – last year Dianne was paired with Robert Webb, who decided to leave the show for health reasons fairly early on.

It’s Ellie S and Nikita!

Ellie (who will henceforth be known as Ellie S, to distinguish her from Ellie T) tells us that it means everything to be representing not just dwarfism, but disability in general – the prospect of going out there and dancing every Saturday night makes her SO proud.

She’s been paired with Nikita Kuzmin. Last year Nikita made it to Week 10 with Tilly Ramsay – can he do better this year?

OK, I already love this partnership. They’re both adorable.

Next up it’s Will Mellor, an actor who I know from playing Jambo in Hollyoaks, even though I’ve never actually watched Hollyoaks. He’s also done loads of other acting stuff, including playing Harvey in Corrie.

My notes also tell me that he also had a chart hit in 1998 with a cover of Leo Sayer’s When I Need You. In the spirit of investigative journalism, I went and watched the video for this so you don’t have to, and can confirm that it’s exactly what’d you expect from a 1998 Leo Sayer cover sung by an angsty twenty-something. I blame Peter Andre, personally.

Will Mellor on Strictly Photograph: Ray Burmiston/PA

It’s time to meet Kym Marsh, who is best know for her role of Michelle Connor in Coronation Street, for which she won ‘Best Newcomer’ at both the National Television Awards and British Soap Awards. Unless, of course you’re over 35, in which case Kym Marsh is best known for being one of the three women in Hear’Say. I consistently get them mixed up with Liberty X because I am now, apparently, my nan.

Kym Marsh on Strictly
Kym Marsh on Strictly Photograph: Ray Burmiston/PA

Next up it’s Tyler West is a TV presenter, radio host and DJ, best known for hosting weekday afternoons on KISS. He also used to do lots of stuff on CBBC, which seems to be the traditional training ground for an eventual spin around the Strictly dancefloor.

Shout out to Tyler’s mum. DRINK.

Tyler West on Strictly
Tyler West on Strictly Photograph: Ray Burmiston/PA


First up is Ellie Simmonds OBE, who is is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer and broadcaster. At the age of thirteen she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, and won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events. Her first dance tomorrow will almost certainly have a watery theme, because that’s Strictly law.

Ellie Simmonds OBE on Strictly
Ellie Simmonds OBE on Strictly Photograph: Ray Burmiston/PA

Out come the stars! I know eight out of fifteen this year, which is pretty standard. I have a very good feeling about this series, just so you know.

Matt Goss. MATT Goss. 14-year-old Heidi is having palpitations.

Time to meet the judges! Anton is back on the panel for a second year, which I for one am perfectly happy about. If the choice is listening to him share his views on a Samba, or watching him actually dance the Samba with maracas and frilly sleeves, I’ll definitely take the former.

The Strictly judges
The Strictly judges Photograph: Ray Burmiston/BBC/PA


Tess in white flares and some kind of gold cape/scarf thing with a weird baggy sleeve. Claudia’s in a rather fabulous white suit.

I think we’ll call that a mixed bag from Tess and Clauds, who had a generally solid season last year, bar a few notable exceptions (dog collar pantsuits. No). They are both stunning and fabulous and rocking it for the older woman, so let’s cross our fingers for weekly fashion heaven. God knows we’ve seen enough wonky bin bags and polyester coffin linings over the years.

And we’re off! We kick off with the first pro dance of the season, which is a cinematic affair that starts in Blackpool during a gale, then goes on tour of various towns, cities and villages. If you recognise any of these places and spotted Giovanni gadding about in your village, do let us know. Is this sponsored by UK tourism?

OK we’re in the studio now, and there should be some new pro dancers in there somewhere – Vito, Michelle, Lauren and Carlos. We’ll meet them all in more detail later, but in the meantime let’s have a moment of reverent silence for the departure of Aljaz and Oti. They will be missed around here.

Are we feeling good? I’m feeling good. How can we not? Strictly’s BACK.

Are we ready? I’m ready. And also excited (drink).

What other housekeeping should we do while we’re waiting? I have plate of snacks, a mug of tea (I’m off booze for boring medical reasons, back on the wine in October), but no dog because she’s away with my other half for the weekend. What are you snacking on?

I could plug my books, I suppose, but that would be crass. And also you could just head to my website of your own accord. Not NOW, obviously. Strictly’s on in a minute.


A new season of Strictly calls for a new season of Strictly Come Bingo! If you’re new around here, this is a fun weekly drinking game, whereby I list five Strictly tropes, clichés and pet peeves, then invite you to take a sip whenever you spot one. It doesn’t have to be booze – you can always choose water and increase your hydration levels. I also know someone who keeps a bowl of Haribo Tangfastics on the arm of the sofa and eats one every time there’s a bingo score – some weeks are more intensely sugary than others.

I did consider easing you in gently, particularly as we have to do it all again tomorrow. But it’s our first ever Friday night Strictly so I’m feeling a bit giddy – so take a swig of whatever tickles your fancy for any occurrence of the following:

  • Someone claiming they can’t dance at all

  • Someone demonstrating their dance skills by doing the robot/running man

  • The word ‘excited’

  • Any early mentions of parents, nannas or kids

  • ”OMG he/she was definitely the person I was hoping to be partnered with” *big fat lie face*

Just a small point of order for anyone popping in to rant about Strictly melting the nation’s tiny brains or grumbling that The Guardian soils the internet with this kind of trivial rubbish. This is my thirteenth year doing this liveblog; we’ve been here so long we’ve claimed squatters’ rights and are constructing a sequinned yurt. So honestly, save your breath. Or alternatively, hang out in one of the friendliest corners of the internet for a couple of hours. You never know, you might enjoy it.


Good evening all, and welcome back for the 20th series of Strictly Come Dancing! I’m delighted to be back on my liveblog sofa, and hope you’ll join me for another autumn of communal watching. It’s been a challenging year for many once again, but this blog – and in particular the comment box – brings its own unique brand of low-cost sparkly energy.

Tonight’s pre-recorded launch show is an opportunity to pair up our fifteen new celebs with their pro-dancer partners – this should have been broadcast last Saturday, but it was considered inappropriate to festoon the nation in fake tan and feathers while the Queen was still lying in state. So the launch is tonight, and the first live show is tomorrow. That’s *checks notes* just short of four hours of liveblogging in total, but it’s all going to be fine because I’m banking on plenty of support from all of you down below. If you’re a first-timer, feel free to come out from behind your lurker curtains and join in. If you’re an old hand, welcome back. I’ve missed you.

We’re kicking the new Strictly season off at 7pm, so please gather snacks, drinks, family members and a bucket of glitter, and I’ll see you then!

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