The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series.
Celebrities including Nicola Adams, Jamie Laing and Maisie Smith discovered which professional dancer would put them through their paces in the upcoming weeks.
The pairings were revealed as Nicola and Katya Jones, Jamie and Karen Hauer, Maisie and Gorka Marquez, Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe, Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk, and Max George and Dianne Buswell.
Hooray! The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series (Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, left, and Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer, right)
Rounding off the Strictly duos were Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice, Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec, Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse, JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, Hrvy and Janette Manrara, and Rt Hon Jacqui Smith and Anton du Beke.
The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link.
This will allow for couples to form their own individual ‘bubbles’ for training and performances, meaning the stars will have maintain distance from each other during filming.
Celebrities! Max George and Dianne Buswell, left, and Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez, right
Dancing duos! JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, left, and Rt Hon Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke, right
After all the pairings were announced, the celebrities and their professional partners had to take to the floor to perform with contestant Jamie teased after he injured himself during the group routine on the 2019 launch show.
Elsewhere during the show, the pros dazzled with a sensational opening routine with judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel-Horwood were seated on separate podiums to ensure the programme adheres to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings
Nicola Adams, 37, and Katya Jones, 31
Jamie Laing, 31, and Karen Hauer, 38
Caroline Quentin, 60, and Johannes Radebe, 33
Jason Bell, 42, and Luba Mushtuk, 30
Max George, 32, and Dianne Buswell, 31
Ranvir Singh, 43, and Giovanni Pernice, 30
Clara Amfo, 36, and Aljaz Skorjanec, 30
Bill Bailey, 55, and Oti Mabuse, 30
JJ Chalmers, 33, and Amy Dowden, 30
Maisie Smith, 19, and Gorka Marquez, 30
Hrvy, 21, and Janette Manrara, 36
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, 57, and Anton Du Beke, 54
Fourth judge Bruno Tonioli was unable to travel back to the UK from his home in LA for the filming due to the Covid-19 crisis and his work commitments on Dancing With The Stars.
He has spent the last 15 years jetting between the US and the UK for the two shows but coronavirus travel restrictions have scuppered his schedule.
Also during the show, presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman reunited with the pair ensuring they stood at least two metres apart throughout the episode.
Former boxer Nicola, 37, and professional dancer Katya, 31, were confirmed as a pairing and are set to make history as the show’s first-ever same-sex couple.
Talking ahead of the pairing, the sporting star said: ‘I the first female to win an Olympic boxing medal in 2012, first female to win Commonwealth Games’ gold medal, first female to become a double Olympic champion. I’m liking these little firsts of making history!’
Nicola was surprised by professional dancer Katya at the Royal Albert Hall in London where she had her last ever professional fight, the dancer appeared behind a huge sparkly disco ball.
Katya was left overjoyed as she started screaming and jumping, she said: ‘This is a dream, honestly,’ with Nicola adding: ‘I am super excited to be paired with Katya, absolutely buzzing.’
The duo then practised some dance moves and were already ‘in sync’, Nicola said: ‘I got a little taste of what is going to come next!’
Back in the studio, presenter Claudia said: ‘Nicola, you like firsts, this is a Strictly first, you wanted a woman and you wanted someone competitive, I give you Katya.’
Talking about what choreography fans can expect, Katya said: ‘I think the beauty of this partnership is… it’s never been done before on Strictly. So, basically, we’re free to do what we want, there’s not really set rules!’
Making history! Former boxer Nicola, 37, and professional dancer Katya, 31, were confirmed as a pairing and are set to make history as the show’s first-ever same-sex couple
Legend: Talking ahead of the pairing, the sporting star said: ‘I the first female to win an Olympic boxing medal in 2012, first female to win Commonwealth Games’ gold medal, first female to become a double Olympic champion. I’m liking these little firsts of making history!’
Special meaning: Nicola was surprised by professional dancer Katya at the Royal Albert Hall in London where she had her last ever professional fight, the dancer appeared behind a huge sparkly disco ball
A dream! Katya was left overjoyed as she started screaming and jumping, she said: ‘This is a dream, honestly,’ with Nicola adding: ‘I am super excited to be paired with Katya, absolutely buzzing.’
In sync: The duo then practised some dance moves and were already ‘in sync’, Nicola said: ‘I got a little taste of what is going to come next!’
Judge, Craig, was left delighted over the pairing and said: ‘I am really looking forward to seeing Nicola and Katya, firs time a pro girl has the opportunity to actually lead the dance, which is really super exciting for Katya.
‘Obviously she has had to drag a lot of people around the floor before, darling, and pretend not to lead! I think this is going to be a sensational partnership, I really do.’
It had been reported for weeks that the duo would be teamed up after they were spotted leaving filming together with fellow pro Karen Hauer reportedly ‘gutted’ to have lost out to Katya.
Nicola recently joked about the ‘Strictly Curse’ and insisted that there is nothing that can ‘compete’ with what she has with her girlfriend Ella Baig, 22.
The first celebrity to meet her partner was Caroline, 60, who had headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in South Bank, London, where she was surprised on stage by pro Johannes, 33, who sweetly held a bouquet of flowers.
Upon meeting for the first time, the Men Behaving Badly star gushed: ‘Oh, I am so glad it’s you, you’re the one I want! Hooray, it’s us together!’
And the duo wasted no time as Johannes quickly spun Caroline around Shakespeare’s Globe to which he declared: ‘It’s fire, it’s hot!’
Talking in the studio, Caroline said: ‘I love him, he makes me happy,’ to which he added: ‘Darling, I am going to flip her up, down, side-to-side, she doesn’t know what is coming!’
Next up was Clara, 36, who was surprised by her pro partner Aljaz, 30, during her radio duties at the BBC studios.
She said: ‘I am so pleased, his energy, I immediately connected with it.’
While Aljaz added: ‘She seems like such a lovely, cool, girl. I can’t wait to get started!’
Talking on the show after their pairing was aired, Clara said: ‘Aljaz was definitely in my top three, the number one, it’s all about you!’
Fun times: The first celebrity to meet her partner was Caroline, 60, who had headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in South Bank, London, where she was surprised on stage by pro Johannes, 33, who sweetly held a bouquet of flowers
Yay: Clara Amfo, 36, and Aljaz Skorjanec, 30, were announced as a pairing
Lovely: Next up to meet their professional partner was GMB star Ranvir Singh, 43, who was paired with Giovanni Pernice, 30
Next up to meet their professional partner was GMB star Ranvir, 43, who was surprised on a walk with her pet dog by Giovanni, 30.
Admitting she was ‘sick with nerves’ before hand, the presenter revealed that she had a dream about Giovanni before their pairing and joked it was a premonition.
She quipped: ‘I actually had a dream about you, so dreams do come true!’ to which Giovanni replied: ‘I am so happy!’
Back in the studio, Giovanni revealed that their first dance next Saturday would be a Pasodoble to Beyonce, while Ranvir sweetly shared that her son, Tushaan, eight, is ‘super proud’ and told her she had to agree to take part.
Sweet: Hrvy, 21, and Janette Manrara, 36, were announced as a pairing on the show
Competitive! Jason Bell, 42, and Luba Mushtuk, 30, were the next pairing to be announced on the show
Happy: Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, 57, and Anton Du Beke, 54, were delighted to be partnered together
Next up was singer Hrvy, 21, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, who was surprised at Wembley Arena by Janette, 36.
The star was left overjoyed to be with Janette, calling their partnership a ‘fiery mess’, he said: ‘We have the same excitement, we’re going to bounce off each other really well.’
Back in the studio, Hrvy, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, was asked about how he was feeling since recovering and testing negative.
He said: ‘I can’t believe I made it this far, I tested positive, isolated with my family, I’m here.’
Elsewhere, Janette revealed she has to live separately from her husband and fellow pro Aljaz throughout the competition as they have to form a bubble with their celebrity partner.
Discussing their absence, presenter Claudia asked: ‘You’ve lived with Aljaz for ten years, you’ve had to form a bubble, both living alone… how is it?’
To which Janette joked: ‘I love it! I miss him terrible but we’re doing our best for the show, I’m so excited to start with Hrvy.
Next up was retired American Football player Jason, 42, who admitted he is a ‘huge Strictly fan’ and he was surprised at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, ‘home of the NFL’, by professional dancer Luba, 30, who wore a full kit.
Shouting ‘yes’, he said: ‘When Luba ran round the corner, in the fill kit, I almost tackled her because I got a flashback but then I realised that wouldn’t be right. I am your student, let’s do this! Sometimes you win the Lotto, I won the Lotto today with Luba. I can’t stop smiling, I’m ready to get this party started!’
Speaking back in the studio, Jason, who shares daughter with Anaíya Bell, six, with ex Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle, said he is excited for her to see him perform.
He said: ‘I think she’s [Anaíya] all about seeing me on the dance floor, she never saw me on the field but I have to impress her now!’
Next up with Jamie, who made history by being the first celebrity to appear on Strictly Come Dancing twice, returned to the show after he was forced to quit the 2019 series after the launch episode following a painful foot injury.
Talking about being back, he said: ‘It’s a little bit embarrassing, I’m here, super excited to be here and just so glad I got another chance to do it. I’ve been doing burpees, eating less cake, I feel ready to do it. I’m taking this competition seriously.’
It then showed the most Jamie met his partner, Karen, in Chelsea, the reality star arrived on his Vespa scooter as he honked his horn in excitement.
He exclaimed: ‘This is honestly the greatest thing in the world, I have been dreaming about this for a whole year.’
Jamie failed to reunite with professional dancer Oti Mabuse. The duo were originally paired up on the 2019 series before he was forced to pull out over his injury, Oti went on to win the show with replacement contestant Kelvin Fletcher.
The Made In Chelsea star, who recently admitted he has felt under ‘pressure’ to do well after Oti and Kelvin scooped the coveted Glitterball Trophy, said back in the studio: ‘I am going to be super careful!’ as he poked fun at his past injury.
This year’s Strictly has been more anticipated than ever as the country is in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, and has seen drastic changes to ensure the series could go ahead, albeit with a shortened run.
During the show, Tess and Claudia were separated from the orchestra by a clear perspex screen in order to adhere to Covid-19 regulations.
The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via. video link.
This will allow for couples to form their own individual ‘bubbles’ for training and performances, meaning the stars will have maintain distance from each other during filming.
The professional dancers took to the stage to showcase their dance moves with a sensation opener, and were also accompanied by a stunning performance by Joel Corry and MNEK.
Judges Craig, Shirley and Motsi also took their place on the panel, though this year saw them sat on separate desks to maintain social distancing.
Fourth judge Bruno has been unable to appear in the studio due to travel restrictions introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will make guest appearances from his home in Los Angeles.
Strictly has already had its fair share of scares even before Saturday’s launch, after Hrvy tested positive for coronavirus just days before filming for the launch was scheduled to take place.
It was called into question whether he would be able to take part, but he has since been declared COVID-free and can continue with training for the show.
It had been reported that stars and their professional partners may be forced to undertake daily checks for coronavirus after a former crew member tested positive days before the new series.
The Sun has also claimed that bosses have a list of ‘stand-by’ celebrities for the show in case a star falls ill with relatives likely banned from rehearsals.
How is Strictly 2020 going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Strictly Come Dancing has introduced an array of strict measures to ensure the new series can go ahead during the COVID-19 crisis.
Celebrity contestants and their professional partners are tested regularly, with cast and crew told to isolate should they contract the virus.
Bosses have already confirmed any celebrity that tests positive once the series begins will be dropped from the show, with reports saying there are celebrities on stand-by.
The professional dancers have already pre-recorded their group performances after isolating together in a hotel.
It’s also been claimed that celebrities and pros will be axed from the show if they are caught kissing during filming.
Strictly 2020 has also seen the series run shortened to just nine weeks, with 12 celebrities taking part instead of the usual 15.
The show’s annual trip to Blackpool has been cancelled, along with this year’s Halloween and Christmas specials.
Only three judges – Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse – will be in the studio with separate rostrums, after Bruno Tonioli was unable to appear due to travel concerns.
Veteran judge Bruno has said he will be ‘involved remotely’ and hopes to return full-time towards the end of the series as he is filming the US version of the show in Los Angeles.
With limited studio crew, big sets may not be built – so producers will use augmented reality, which adds computer-generated elements.
To ensure the contestants can work closely with their partners, they will ‘bubble up’ to train, along with being tested regularly.
Strictly will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in groups on separate tables, and will only attend if from the same household or bubble.
This year has already seen the pros pre-record all of their group performances while isolating together in a hotel, and the couples have formed separate bubbles to train and perform together.
The series will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in small groups and will only be allowed to attend if from the same household or bubble.
In a recent Q and A, executive producer Sarah James shed light on the show’s contingency plans in light of the pandemic and insisted she’s ‘confident’ the competition series will go ahead even if the current coronavirus restrictions change.
As the nation waits to see how the stars will fare, Strictly bosses have drawn up tough plans to deal with anyone who falls ill.
Sarah said: ‘Obviously according to government guidelines if you receive a positive test you have to isolate for two weeks and that would unfortunately rule them out of the show.’
This year’s series will be a pared down nine-week run with a very different look. The 12 partnerships – three less than usual – will be unveiled via video link rather than in the studio and the annual trip to the Blackpool Tower ballroom is also off the cards.
Explaining their use of the bubble system to ensure couples can train and perform, she added: ‘Close contact cohorts (CCC) apply to people who need to work closely and break social distancing rules to do their jobs. It has to only be with one person and you are regularly tested.
‘We are asking the celebrity contestants to be part of an exclusive support bubble with their dancers, which means that one half of the party has to live alone.’
The professionals spent two weeks in September isolating in a Buckinghamshire hotel so they could rehearse the group numbers.
Sarah also discussed how hairdressers and make-up artist have had to adjust to the new guidelines as she added: ‘Hair and make-up and costume are all allowed in accordance with government guidelines.
‘We were able to have our hair and make-up team working with full PPE and sanitising once hairdressers and other facilities reopened.
‘Hair and make-up were able to work with as many of the different cast as they wanted or needed to, but this year we’ll have specific makeup teams assigned to specific couples to ensure people don’t mix as much.’
Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones and Graziano Di Prima have been axed from the main line-up and won’t be coupled up with celebrity contestants for this year’s edition, but will instead form their own CCCs to perform together as support to guest singers on each show.
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 7:25pm on BBC One.
Strictly Come Dancing Contestants 2020
Profession: Actress, known for roles in Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek
Caroline says: ‘I hope my knees don’t let me down and I hope the foundation garments live up to expectations when I start leaping about!’
Fun fact: She met her now-husband, Sam Farmer in 1998 on the set of Men Behaving Badly when he was one of the studio runners.
Profession: Singer – from former boy band The Wanted
Max says: ‘Nan – I’m doing Strictly this year!’ as he vowed to make his superfan grandmother proud
Fun Fact: Max’s fellow The Wanted bandmate Jay McGuiness was on Strictlby Come Dancing in 2015 – and won it!
Profession: Radio 1 presenter
Clara says: ‘As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy’
Fun fact: Clara has some experience of celeb gameshows, having taken part on Celebrity Masterchef in 2018
Profession: Comedian and TV personality
Clara says: ‘I’m not Lord of the Dance, more a sort of caretaker of the dance’
Fun fact: Bill is a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist
Profession: EastEnders actress
Maisie says: ‘Get me in those sequins, I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter!’
Fun fact: Maisie won the 2019 Children In Need special of Strictly with Kevin Clifton
Profession: YouTube star
HRVY says: ‘Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year.’
Fun fact: HRVY follows in the footsteps of former internet star contestants Joe Sugg and Saffron Barker – the latter of whom is close friends with him
Profession: Retired American Football player – now a pundit
Jason says: ‘I am thrilled. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve been watching it since I came to this country, so it’s time for me to do something cool to impress my daughter, now that she can watch me perform!’
Fun Fact: Jason is the father of Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle’s daughter. The couple were together for 11 years, only splitting recently in 2019
Profession: ITV broadcaster, Political Editor for GMB
Ranvir says: ‘It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster… Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!’
Fun fact: Ranvir is the fourth GMB star to star following Susanna Reid, Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins.
Profession: Double Olympic gold medallist boxer
Nicola says: ‘I’m a huge fan of the show and am thrilled to be part of something that holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts’
Fun fact: Nicola will form the show’s first ever same-sex pairing as she is parterned with a female professional.
Profession: Ex Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist
JJ says: ‘Strictly is a whole different ball game in respect to the challenges I will face but I’m up for an adventure’
Fun fact: JJ is close friends with Prince Harry after they worked together on the Invictus Games
Profession: Made In Chelsea star
Jamie says: ‘I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing!’
Fun fact: Jamie was forced to pull out of the 2019 series of Strictly after a foot injury
RT HON JACQUI SMITH
Jacqui says: ‘I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly – and that’s very rare for me…!’
Fun fact: Fifty years ago, she received a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing