X FACTOR UK: LIVE SHOW FINALISTS REVEALED 0 41

Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams, Louis Tomlinson and Ayda Field have officially confirmed their live show acts.

These acts have come a long way from battling through auditions, to the Six Chair Challenge, and even impressing their mentors at the Judges’ Houses.

So, who will be fighting for a chance to be crowned the winner of X Factor 2018? Here’s a recap of all the action from judges’ houses

First up were the Girls, who were whisked off to Simon’s actual home in Malibu in the twelfth episode of the series tonight.

Naturally, they were excited to see the sights of Hollywood, where stars are born – and Simon recently got his own star on the Walk of Fame.
He even treated them to a shopping spree so they could look their best for their big moments.

However, while browsing the stores on Rodeo Drive, they were completely unaware that they were about to face one of the most daunting audiences imaginable.

As always, the judges have got special guests to help them make their all-important decisions – but this year, Simon went to new extremes.

The Syco mogul threw a Judges’ Houses party, inviting not two, not three, but FIFTY entertainment industry bigwigs.

The guestlist included his former American Idol colleagues Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest, Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren and legendary singer Paul Anka.

Also in attendance were famed producers Babyface and Dallas Austin, Simon’s former protégés Adam Lambert and Leona Lewis – and, of course, the one and only Sinitta.

“We’ve never done this before, so if it does work, I take the credit. If it doesn’t work, I’ve got it on record, it has absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever,” Simon told his pals.

“The Girls have no idea you guys are gonna be here, they’re gonna be petrified.”

With everyone seated, Simon finally brought out the women of the moment – and they were astonished to see so many familiar faces, whom Simon said have collectively sold “about 5billion records”.

“We have every big-name songwriter in the world,” he said. “These are the people, in real life, you’ve got to impress. These are the people who make the hits. People who have been in your position before.

“It’s not just about impressing me, it’s about impressing these guys.”

With the pressure well and truly on, it was time for the performances begin.

Molly Scott – First to take the mic was Molly, who was left “shaking” after being introduced to the all-star crowd. Unfortunately for the 16-year-old – the youngest solo act remaining in the competition – she admits she doesn’t “deal well with pressure”, noting that nerves “did get the better” of her at the Six Chair Challenge. For the moment that could change her life, she performed the English version of ‘Fake Love’ by chart-storming Korean boyband BTS. It was a pick Simon described as “really clever”, while Randy felt like “it could have been her song”.

Georgia Burgess – Georgia fought hard to attend Judges’ Houses; having initially lost her seat at the Six Chair Challenge, she took part in two further sing-offs to win it back. Although “scared” by the audience, she vowed to put just as much effort in to reaching the live shows. She was “so nervous” about her song choice, ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ by Jocelyn Brown – but it had a few of the guests standing up in applause, including Paula. Simon said Georgia reminds him of Kelly Clarkson, while Diane observed: “Her voice doesn’t look like her. It’s like what Adele has, you wanna hang out with her.”

Afterwards, Georgia told host Dermot O’Leary: “This has surpassed my wildest dreams. To sing in front of all these people, in itself, is such a lifetime achievement.

Shan – Having been a session singer for four years, Shan is looking for her big break – and she put herself through double the pressure to get one. Not only did she have to face a crowd of music tastemakers, she also chose to debut an original track. She wrote ‘Get Back’ after her Six Chair Challenge experience, about how it “taught me a lesson that when you put in hard work and effort, it’s possible for good results to happen”. The song wasn’t even finished before Ryan whispered to Simon: “You’ve got to keep her.” Randy added: “That was fantastic, it really shows who can be a star. Stars rise to the occasion.”

Dermot was stunned by what had happened, commenting: “When you said, ‘I’m doing an original’, I was looking around and thinking,’ there’s so many great songwriters, I hope this goes well’.”

“I was looking at Diane Warren like, ‘oh my gosh’,” Shan replied.

Maria Laroco – Sadly, Maria was unable to join the Girls in Malibu after issues arose with her visa. However, unlike previous years, when such circumstances forced acts to leave the show, Maria was allowed to compete via a video recorded in London. “Hey Simon, thank you so much for the opportunity you have given me,” she introduced herself. “I don’t want this to be my last performance, so please, please, please, pick me.” The Filipino teenager sang ‘California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas. “I feel really bad for her, because she would have thrived in this atmosphere,” sighed Simon.

Bella Penfold – Bella had a weight on her shoulders; having earned Simon’s Golden X safe seat at the Six Chair Challenge, she knew she needed to “better that last performance”. Although acknowledging she’s “no Drake or Kanye”, she again demonstrated her rapping skills by covering Macklemore and Mary Lambert’s ‘Same Love’ – a song so important to her that she got it tattooed on her neck just days beforehand. “She’s got a great vibe about her, and she’s authentic,” noted Paula. “I love that she’s edgy, and kind of wild,” praised Randy. “She wants to say something, I could work with her,” added Diane.

Scarlett Lee – Last to appear was Scarlett, who was even more appreciative of her place at Judges’ Houses, having narrowly missed out last year. She couldn’t resist a cheeky dig at Simon while taking the stage, joking: “I can’t believe I’m here… finally!” The 20-year-old says it took “a hell of a lot of courage” to enter the talent contest a second time – and it took even more for her to perform Whitney Houston’s ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’ in front of its writer, Diane. The risk paid off, with the Golden Globe winner led a standing ovation. “You would be an awful person to not put her through,” smirked Ryan. “Her voice is ridiculous,” proclaimed Randy.

As she rejoined her fellow hopefuls, Scarlett said: “That’s the moment I’ve always wanted.”

With the performances over, Simon again addressed the party, optimistically asking: “Let’s do it again every year, please!”

Giving his take on the night, Ryan said: “It was exceptional. I didn’t know what to expect, I had never seen any of these contestants before.

“They were nervous, but when they stepped in to their songs you could tell they were meant to do this.”

Meanwhile, former X Factor winner Leona went to talk to the Girls. “You guys have got this, you’re all amazing, you’ve got such good voices,” she complimented.

“This is a sick joke, you’re Leona Lewis!” laughed Bella.

Diane, Paula and Randy hung around after the bash to further help Simon pick his final four – and soon it was time to deliver the verdict.

The next day, Simon sat down with the Girls one at a time to reveal their fates.

He told Shan the “slightly negative” thing is that she’s “almost afraid” to show the real her – but she would have the chance to do so on the live shows.

“You’re better than even you know. I’m thrilled to give you this opportunity,” he said.

Molly acknowledged her performance earlier would have been better had she not been “as nervous” – but Simon also put her through, thanks to her “real determination”.

Next, Simon called London to speak to Maria, and for her it was bad news. “You didn’t make it. I hate telling you this in this manner,” he mused.

The media mogul did give her a small glimmer of hope, adding: “I’m not just saying this, you have to come back again. Promise me you’ll come back.”

“I do promise,” insisted an emotional Maria.

Scarlett followed, and she finally heard the words she has waited over a year for. “I’ve never seen Diane Warren cry in my life!” smirked Simon. “I don’t wanna put you through this again. I really want you to join me in the finals.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” she reacted through tears.

However, it was the end of the road for Georgia. “You didn’t do anything wrong, you did nothing wrong,” Simon told her. “It’s simply a gut feeling, it’s not your year.”

She took the news well, responding: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me have this opportunity. It really has been amazing.”

That meant for Bella – who says she scaled back her dreams because no-one believed in her – those dreams would finally be coming true.

“You are in the finals,” Simon revealed. “There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt. I believe in you, I really like you. You’re special.”

Moments later, she told Dermot: “I still can’t believe I’ve went and gone and done it!”

Therefore, the four Girls in this year’s live shows are Bella, Molly, Scarlett and Shan.

ROBBIE WILLIAMS AND THE GROUPS

After touching down in LA and enjoying a spot of sightseeing, the groups were whisked away to a sprawling pad owned by Robbie himself.

The ‘Angels’ singer challenged them to a tennis tournament and laid on a barbecue feast – while his wife and rival judge Ayda Williams dropped by to offer the acts good luck.

Soon the fun came to an end and it was down to business. “This is a level playing field, anybody and everybody has a chance of going through,” he said.

“Be magnificent, because you were all born to be magnificent.”

Performance day began with the hopefuls meeting their guest mentor David – who emerged in leather hotpants with a sort-of Take That tribute group.

“I always thought you were a bit of a Jason,” claimed Robbie.

“No, I’m you cause I’m the show-off,” David replied. “Look, I’ve already gone solo!”

LMA Choir – Led by their choirmaster Stephanie, LMA faced the challenge of going first, admitting they found it “nervewracking” to be just one performance away from a place in the live shows. “What a better platform to show your talent and show the world what you can do,” said Stephanie, explaining why they entered The X Factor. “Britain’s Got Talent?” quipped David. After their rendition of James Bay’s ‘Hold Back The River’, Robbie said they “nearly brought a tear” to his eye. “A lot of your appeal is gonna be in the song choices, and that was a very original choice,” observed David.

Once they were out of earshot, the funnyman continued: “It’s an unusual one for The X Factor, a choir – it’s never been done before. The problem you have is that the audience don’t particularly connect to them… it’s not quite the same as rooting for one person.”

Robbie echoed those thoughts as he delivered his verdict the next day, claiming it would be a “risk” for fifteen people to appear together to the live shows – but he chose to take that risk and put them through. “What a pleasure to be able to put you through,” he smiled. “I’m just absolutely overwhelmed,” said Stephanie through happy tears.

A Star – They may be the youngest act in the competition, and they may have been put together after failed solo auditions, but Aaliyah and Acacia proved they’re a force to be reckoned with when Robbie gave them his Golden X at the Six Chair Challenge. “We’ve been working so hard for this performance today,” said Aaliyah. “I wanna make sure that we do each other proud.” The teenagers mashed up Soul II Soul’s ‘Back To Life’ with Stormzy’s ‘Big For Your Boots’. “Something remarkable just happened, it showed me exactly who you are,” Robbie reacted. “You really popped.”

Acacia spoke of how they’d “dreamed” of making the live shows – and despite some slight reservations about their age, Robbie made their dreams come true by giving them a yes. After getting the good news, their elated mums ran over for hugs.

Panda and Burgandy – Originally soloists who were sent home by Ayda, Panda and Burgandy only made it to Judges’ Houses after Robbie offered them the option of joining forces and transferring to his category. “Today we are going to prove to him that he made a very good decision,” vowed Panda. The newly-formed duo belted out ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, but while Robbie said it was a “great audition”, David wasn’t quite convinced they work together. “There’s still a slight sense that it’s two great vocalists together rather than a group,” he commented.

On results day, Robbie told the pair they’re “infectious, in the best way possible” – but agreed that they weren’t gelling together and decided to send them home. Although Burgandy was devastated by her exit, she said the ITV talent contest is “still the best thing that’s ever happened” to her.

Vibe 5 – Vibe 5 is yet another group formed by the judges, but although they’d only been together for a very short time, the lads insist they have a “natural” connection. “We’re like brothers, we just get on so well,” said Jon Guelas, one of the boyband’s five members (hence the name). “Some brothers hate each other!” David helpfully retorted. Keeping it in the X Factor family, they covered James Arthur’s ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. Robbie complimented their falsetto, but while David felt they have “the potential to be incredibly popular”, he mused: “I just worry that they don’t quite know who they are yet.”

The next day, Robbie told the band that, vocals aside, their act is a “bit of a shambles”. However, he also noted that there’s “a huge gap in the market” for them, and that he could already see defined roles – so it’s no surprise that he sent them to the live shows.

Sweet Sense – The last of this year’s manufactured groups, Sweet Sense emerged from the Girls category as Vibe 5 did from the Boys. Robbie gave them a warning, joking: “This is the start of your band, when you all like each other and get on with each other, so enjoy this moment!” David wondered when it “turns sour”, to which Robbie claimed: “First single.” The five-piece gave a nod to opposing mentor Louis by performing One Direction’s ‘History’. Robbie praised their “incredible voices”, but picked up on a flaw: “There was a bit of looking at each other nervously, which might be a problem.”

While Vibe 5 made it through, it was the end of the road for Sweet Sense. Although Robbie compared them to the Spice Girls, he felt their chemistry needed time to develop. It seems the band may be sticking together, as they said the rejection would only “make us work harder”.

Misunderstood – Duo Jeff and Stefan have stormed The X Factor with their ridiculously catchy original songs, but their success has been a long time coming, having tried to break the music industry for nine years. “We want to give it our all and let Robbie see that we’ve got this,” said Jeff. Sticking to their winning formula, they chose to sing ‘Girls In London’, another of their own tracks, “purely because the girls in London are sick”. Robbie branded it “incredible”, while David told them:”I like that you’re not trying to be anyone else, you’re just trying to be you, and that really counts for a lot.”

Robbie was perplexed that they’d failed to hit the big time after the best part of a decade together. However, he finally gave the pair the big break they’ve been looking for with a place in the lives. “To get that yes… words can’t even describe, we’re so grateful,” Stefan said.

Therefore, Robbie’s final four groups are LMA Choir, A Star, Vibe 5 and Misunderstood.

Louis Tomlinson and the Boys

With two categories down, it was time for the Boys to face the music in the exotic hotspot of Ibiza.

After meeting them on the beach, Louis took the lads buggy racing, with Armstrong declaring him and Dalton the worst drivers.

Later they enjoyed dinner at a fancy restaurant, where Louis gave them a pep talk for the battle ahead.

“Naturally this situation is intimidating,” he said. “I think the most important thing is just, you’re proud and you’ve left nothing.”

“Tomorrow’s a big day, just try not to think about it too much and give it everything.”

Before the performances began, Louis introduced them to his two guest judges, Nile and Liam – “a legend and an old friend of mine”.

“I couldn’t be happier with the two guest judges,” grinned Brendan. “This feels real now.”

Dalton Andre Harris – Dalton has already been on a huge journey on The X Factor, sharing stories of his upbringing in Jamaica and how he’s been on his own since his teenage years, and he hopes that journey will continue. “It just has to go right,” he said. “There’s no option. It has to.” He performed the Dreamgirls song ‘Listen’, because of its message: “Stop talking, listen to me now, this is my time to pursue my dreams”. Louis said: “What was so incredible, aside from the unbelievable vocal, was the whole story you told us.” Liam claimed: “I will never listen to that song the same way ever again.”

Armstrong Martins – Armstrong stunned the judges at his original audition, playing an acoustic rendition of the High School Musical song ‘Breaking Free’ – and he played a similar tactic at Judges’ Houses, admitting: “It is a gamble, but if you’re going to go all in, you might as well go all in.” That gamble was a stripped-back rendition of the Friends theme song, ‘I’ll Be There For You’ by The Rembrandts. “What you’ve just done should make you really really proud. Your song choice was clever,” remarked Louis. “I think you’ve got a fantastic voice, you get so lost within the moment of the song,” added Liam.

Once Armstrong had rejoined the other contestants, Louis quietly mused: “It might be a risk to take him to the live shows, there is a nerve factor there.”

Thomas Pound – Thomas has been an inimitable force in the competition so far, appearing as both himself and his drag alter ego Lady Frieda Wilde, and fighting to keep his seat at the Six Chair Challenge after almost being sent home. The Welshman has a message – “be different and be you” – which was certainly reflected in his performance: a thumping dance version of ‘One Night Only’. “Your unapologetic personality is so infectious,” beamed Louis. “His confidence is fantastic, I think that’s gonna carry him so far,” noted Liam.

J-Sol – Having fought back from the devastating loss of his mother to honour her wishes by entering The X Factor, J-Sol told Louis that he wants to make the live shows so he can “inspire people to carry on going”, proclaiming: “I’m ready to just give it everything.” For his performance, he chose to sing Rihanna’s ‘Love On The Brain’. “That to me, that song right there, is a great advert for the type of artist you could be. I think you did yourself proud,” complimented Louis. “He is somebody that really brings soul back,” observed Nile.

However, J told Dermot that he was dissatisfied with his effort: “I feel like I could have done better, but I gave it everything. My nerves just got the better of me.

Anthony Russell – Louis has already mentored Anthony through the personal troubles that forced him to leave last year’s series, and now he’s the mentor that has the power to put Anthony on the live shows. The Liverpool labourer sang ‘Scars’ by James Bay, but made a slight slip-up towards to the end. “I know you’re thinking about that one little note that just happened about 20 seconds ago, but that means nothing to me,” insisted Louis.

Nile was also unfazed, sharing one of his career memories. “I did a song with David Bowie, Let’s Dance, and he wanted to change it because he went out of tune,” he recalled. “I said ‘David, you don’t understand, one bad note can feel like raw emotion, and sometimes when we’re feeling emotion we can’t control what we do’. It’s fine, it’s cool.”

Brendan Murray – Brendan who fought back from a dodgy audition to secure his mentor’s Golden X at Six Chair. The former Hometown member and Eurovision entrant was very aware there would be no safety at Judges’ Houses, musing: “I’m gonna have to throw everything at them.” In his efforts to impress, Brendan took on a huge song, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. “Really great, really great,” was Liam’s simple response. “That song is written by a dear friend,” noted Nile, in reference to Prince. “It was beautiful. I was holding back the tears, I was trying to be cool!”

After further discussions with Liam and Nile, it was soon time for Louis’ decision day, which host Dermot O’Leary described as “the worst day of The X Factor calendar”.

“It certainly feels like it,” agreed Louis.

First to hear their verdict was Dalton Andre Harris. Although worried about his “versatility”, Louis put him through to the live shows. “Is this real? You don’t know what you’re doing!” reacted an elated Dalton.

As he spoke to the next three acts, the One Direction star claimed: “The standard of singer is so, so high. In different years, all of you could have gone through.”

It was good news for Armstrong Martins, who smiled: “This is such an amazing moment. I can’t believe I’ve made it to the live shows.”

Brendan also made the cut, and promptly called his mum to let her know. “Congratulations, we’re so proud of you!” she beamed.

However, Louis concluded that he’s “not going to be able to take” Thomas Pound to the next stage. The Welshman was “absolutely gutted” to be out, sighing: “All I wanted was the live shows, but it is what it is.”

J-Sol’s instinct that he’d “messed up” his performance also proved to be true when he found out he’d been cut. “I feel like I let you down,” he mused. “Don’t be silly, you didn’t,” insisted Louis.

That meant that Anthony Russell bagged Louis’ fourth and final live show spot, a year after personal issues initially ended his X Factor dream. “Go on! I will not let you down, let’s do it lad!” exclaimed the Liverpudlian.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this! I feel like Rocky Balboa!”

Therefore, Louis’ final four Boys are Dalton Andre Harris, Armstrong Martins, Brendan Murray and Anthony Russell.

Ayda Williams and the Groups
Last but not least, it was time for the Overs to rise to the challenge – and that meant it was back to the Williams’ mansion in Beverly Hills, where Robbie had just picked his Groups.

This time, it was Ayda in charge, and she began by throwing her acts a lavish pool party, complete with the hashtag ‘#XF’ spelled out in balloons.

Referring to her hit with Livin’ Joy, Janice grinned: “I am a Dreamer, but this is beyond a dream, honey! This is a dream I wasn’t even dreaming!”

Soon, the hopefuls were introduced to Ayda’s two special guests, whom she says “represent the very best” of TV talent shows.

She welcomed Leona Lewis, the winner of The X Factor’s third series, and Adam Lambert, one of American Idol’s biggest success stories.

“We went through the same thing, we know how it feels,” commented Leona.

“Everything from here on out is going to change your life on some level,” added Adam.

Olatunji Yearwood – Those life-changing performances kicked off with Ola, who spoke of the “superb” support he’s had in his home nation of Trinidad and Tobago. “I’ve never felt like this ever in my life,” he gushed. Ola brought the Calypso vibes to Judges’ Houses with an original track, which was helpfully named ‘Ola’. “You have a way that is completely your own, it is magic and electric. Every time I see you, you make me smile,” reviewed Ayda. “He’s definitely a born performer,” noted Adam.

Delivering her verdict the next day, Ayda told Ola she loves him for bringing a “completely different style of music” to the ITV talent contest – and now he’d be bringing that style to the live shows. “Thanks for the opportunity. I’m gonna make my family proud, my country proud, you proud,” he pledged.

Janice Robinson – Although she’s much-loved thanks to her 90s anthem, Janice now hopes the X Factor can help her establish her own identity. “I’ve got all those people that have loved my songs, and I want to come back and show them who I am,” she explained. Appropriately, she performed a song she wrote herself, entitled ‘Love Is In The Atmosphere’. “I just sat there, and was like, ‘wow’,” gasped Adam. “I’m so happy that I’ve got to know the woman behind that voice,” smiled Leona. “You have a spirit and a force that is so remarkable,” added Ayda.

Ayda did question whether it was fair that someone who’d already cracked the charts should take precedence over someone looking for their first break. However, in the end, she told Janice: “It was always gonna be a yes.” The dancefloor diva began crying while livin’ her joy. “Thank you so much,” she sniffed.

Ricky John – Ricky was the lucky contestant that got Ayda’s Golden X at the Six Chair Challenge, and it clearly renewed his determination to reach the live shows. “I never really envisioned making it this far. I didn’t come all of this way to go home now,” he vowed. For his Judges’ Houses audition, he sang ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ by Percy Sledge – but as soon as it ended, he declared: “I’m not very happy with that.” Adam offered some words of encouragement: “I feel like you have a really cool tone, and I feel like you have a lot of emotion and story and experience.”

Once he’d left to share his woes with Dermot, Ayda commented: “I really like him but every audition we’ve had, there’s been self-doubt.”

Those concerns played on her mind, and she eventually opted to send him home – making him the only Golden X recipient to miss out on the live shows. A visibly saddened Ricky replied: “It’s fine, don’t worry. Thank you for having me.”

Louise Setara – Looking to resurrect her forgotten musical ambitions following the loss of her husband, Louise was also desperate to go further in the competition, proclaiming: “I want this opportunity to work out for me so much that it actually frightens me.” The mum-of two coverered Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Piece By Piece’, and its lyrics hit home towards the end when she burst in to tears. “That song scares the life out of me,” she admitted. “I used to sing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ and it always reminded me of my Mum and my Dad, and I got so emotional, so I know how it feels,” sympathised Leona.

Unfortunately, Louise’s breakdown worked against her. Noting that emotions “got the better” of her, Ayda chose to say goodbye to Louise – a decision that she hinted would end her dream. “This, for me, I think was a last-crack-of-the-whip kind of thing,” she admitted.

Giovanni Spano – Wannabe rockstar Gio had been “working my whole entire life” for his moment at Judges’ Houses. “I perform in the West End, I have a great time and I love it, but I’m a little bit tired of playing a character. I wanna be Gio,” he told the judges, before performing Kings of Leon hit ‘Use Somebody’. “He’s got so much energy,” witnessed Leona. “He’s really eager to go for it,” noted Adam. Happy with his effort, Gio told Dermot: “I can feel it. I’m reaching, I’m reaching for those live shows.”

On decision day, however, Ayda told Gio that he’s “very one-level” and lacks “light and shade”. Despite reservations that he might not connect with viewers, Ayda took the chance and put him through. “You will not regret it. I’m gonna bring glam, I’m gonna bring fun, I’m gonna bring everything,” he grinned.

Danny Tetley – As a Benidorm entertainer, Danny’s used to the spotlight – and in reaching Judges’ Houses, he was just one step away from reaching his biggest audience yet by performing to millions of viewers on The X Factor live shows. “This kind of thing does not happen to me, a boy from Bradford. That’s why it’s all so surreal,” he said. His rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ wowed the panel. “I think the thing that I loved about it is that you’re in full control of what you’re doing,” Adam explained.

Hours later, Ayda gave Danny the good news that he had indeed made the live finals – almost two decades after he originally failed to convince Simon Cowell on the very first Pop Idol. “Simon got it so wrong seventeen years ago!” she smirked. “Thank you so much, I can’t believe it!” he replied.

Therefore, Ayda’s final four Overs are Olatunji Yearwood, Janice Robinson, Giovanni Spano and Danny Tetley.

The X Factor goes live from Saturday 20 October with the live final airing in December

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STRICTLY COME DANCING 2018 – JUDGES, PRESENTER & CONTESTANT INTERVIEWS 0 71

Dust off your dancing shoes, Strictly Come Dancing is waltzing back onto BBC One for its 16th series.
The NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios returns with more sparkle, glitz and glamour than ever.

The celebrities strutting their stuff on the dance floor this series are Ashley Roberts, Faye Tozer, Kate Silverton, Katie Piper, Lauren Steadman, Stacey Dooley, Susannah Constantine, Vick Hope, Charles Venn, Danny John-Jules, Graeme Swann, Joe Sugg, Lee Ryan, Dr Ranj Singh and Seann Walsh.

On Saturday 8 September at 7.35pm, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman host an exclusive premiere and roll out the red carpet to welcome the celebrity class of 2018 as they prepare to begin their Strictly adventure.

The fifteen celebrity contestants will make their grand entrance from the red carpet into the famous Strictly ballroom to discover which professional dancer they will be paired with. Once the pairings have been announced the celebrities and professionals will take to the dancefloor for the very first time for what promises to be, an entertaining group performance, launching the new series in Strictly style.

Our four fabulous judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell and Shirley Ballas return to the panel and will be casting their expert judgement every week.

Three new world-class dancers are joining the show, Italian Latin Champion Graziano Di Prima, Professional South African Latin Champion Johannes Radebe and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk. They join Strictly favourites AJ Pritchard, Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Janette Manrara, Karen Clifton, Katya Jones, Kevin Clifton, Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Oti Mabuse and Pasha Kovalev.

Once the celebrities are paired up with their professional dancer, they will have two weeks to rehearse before returning to the ballroom to perform live to the nation every Saturday night. There will be no public vote in the first week and the results show with Tess and Claudia will begin from week two on Sunday nights. From then, each week the two couples with the lowest combined scores, from the judges and public vote, will face each other in the dance off, and one couple will leave the competition for good.

At the halfway stage of the competition and now a Strictly Come Dancing tradition, the show will travel to the international home of ballroom dancing where the celebrities and their partners will perform at the world famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Zoë Ball will also return to host Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on BBC Two. The weekday show is back with even more exclusive access and backstage gossip than ever before.

Finally, there will be exclusive behind-the-scenes action available on the official Strictly website at bbc.co.uk/strictly and across social media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. And this series for the first time they’re collaborating with BBC Three who will be creating exciting additional content across their digital platforms. There will also be even more Strictly news to enjoy via the official Strictly Come Dancing podcast.

MEET THE PRESENTERS – TESS DALY AND CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN

Meet Strictly’s fabulous presenting duo Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.
Tess Daly
Tess returns to co-present another series of Strictly Come Dancing. She has the role of introducing the dances and probing the judges for their comments, whilst co-host Claudia Winkleman hosts the post-dance interviews with each couple.

After working around the world as a model and before landing her role on Strictly Come Dancing, Tess presented many other TV shows including SM:tv Live, Get Your Kit Off and the Royal Variety Performance. She also presented BBC One’s celebrity singing talent show Just the Two Of Us alongside husband Vernon Kay.

Earlier this year Tess hosted Sir Bruce: A Celebration, very special event which honoured the life of one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved entertainers and former Strictly Come Dancing presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth. She is also one of the hosts of the BBC’s Children In Need every year.

As well as being a successful columnist Tess is also a published author with titles The Camera Never Lies and It’s Up To You, New York to her name.

Tess has also been a proud patron of Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity for the past 11 years and acts as an Ambassador for the Princes Trust Charity.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman returns as co-host of Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly and will be providing first-hand reactions from the couples hot off the dance floor in the ‘Clauditorium’.

Claudia is a firm favourite with the Strictly audience, she has co-presented the Sunday night results show alongside Tess Daly since 2010, having previously hosted Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two. In 2015, Claudia was named Best Entertainment Presenter at the Royal Television Society Awards for her work on Strictly Come Dancing and has twice been nominated for Best Entertainment Performance at the Bafta TV Awards.

Claudia also hosts BBC One’s Britain’s Best Home Cook and presents a weekly show on BBC Radio 2.

MEET YOUR STRICTLY JUDGES

Bruno Tonioli
Bruno Tonioli has worked with some of the biggest and best names in the industry such as Elton John, Duran Duran, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney to name but a few! He splits his time between London and Los Angeles to record both Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars, two of the most successful shows either side of the Atlantic. In 2015, he also served as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars in Australia.

Bruno left Italy at the age of 18 to join the Paris-based dance company La Grande Eugene before joining the Lyndsay Kemp Company when he decided to make London his home. He worked as a freelance dancer (even appearing in Elton John’s music video for I’m Still Standing) before eventually moving over from dance to choreography.

In a twenty year career he has worked on a number of films and TV shows, from collaborating with Steve Coogan and French & Saunders, to instructing on dramas such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Blonde Bombshell. He has also had a hand in a number of movies including Little Voice starring Jane Horrocks and Ella Enchanted starring Anne Hathaway. He has also had a cameo role in the US sitcom Full House, and created the TV show formats Dance X and Dance Wars for BBC and ABC respectively.

In 2017 he fronted two arts documentaries for BBC Two; West Side Stories: The Making Of A Classic, and Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie. He has a second series of Bruno Tonioli at the Opera returning to the Radio 2 airwaves later this year.

Bruno is now in his 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing and his 27th season of Dancing with the Stars.

Craig Revel Horwood
Craig’s work has taken him all over the world and along the way he has picked up a prestigious Olivier Award for his work on the West End musical Spend, Spend, Spend. Craig is constantly on the go choreographing and directing new stage projects – including the Strictly Live Arena Tour every year. Craig has also judged on the New Zealand version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Craig was born in a sleepy Australian town called Ballarat and when he was old enough, he moved away from his hometown to the bright lights of Melbourne where his dance career began. He appeared in productions including West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles, Me and My Girl and many more.

He eventually headed to Europe where he joined the Lido Du Paris as a dancer in Panache and then as principle singer in Formidable at the Moulin Rouge, finding himself a year later in the UK tour of Cats in Edinburgh and Dublin. Craig also appeared in the original concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar. In the West End, Craig has performed in Cats, playing the part of Munkustrap, Miss Saigon and was an original cast member playing the part of Harry in Crazy For You. Craig has recently returned to his performing roots, playing Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Craig has directed numerous stage shows including most recently the hugely successful tour of Sister Act and the new Dusty Springfield musical Son of a Preacher Man.

Craig is now in his 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Dame Darcey Bussell
Prima Ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell DBE is a former Principal Dancer at The Royal Ballet.

Darcey became a Principal at The Royal Ballet in 1989 aged only 20 years old and remained at the company for her entire career. She also performed as a principal guest artist with leading companies around the world, retiring from ballet in 2007. She came out of retirement to dance the ‘Spirit of the Flame’ at the Olympics closing ceremony in 2012.

Amongst her many patronages, she is President of the Royal Academy of Dance and International patron of the Sydney Dance Company. Her extensive broadcast work includes presenting documentaries such as Darcey Dances Hollywood, the ‘Looking for’ series on BBC One and she has presented The Royal Ballet’s popular worldwide cinema simulcasts since 2014.

Darcey first appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 when she performed a segment of Viva La Diva with Katherine Jenkins. She then appeared as a guest judge on the series in 2009, during which she and professional dancer Ian Waite danced a Jive together. Darcey joined the judging panel full time in 2012.

Shirley Ballas
Head Judge Shirley Ballas is a British-born ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach who joined Strictly last year.

Originally from Wallasey, Shirley is a former British Open to the World Champion and European, German, United Kingdom, United States and International Latin American Champion. She retired from competitive dancing in 1996. Shirley is now an acclaimed and respected international coach to many of the top professional and amateur dancers as well as a highly renowned sought-after adjudicator for ballroom and Latin American competitions judging all around the world.

Nicknamed the ‘Queen of Latin’, Shirley is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world. She is three-time British Open to the World Latin American Champion, 10-time United States Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.
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CONTESTANT INTERVIEWS

ASHLEY ROBERTS INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
Well the show is obviously amazing! I’m excited to put on the costumes, get glammed up and become characters. And also to learn a part of dance that I’ve never learned before and just have fun!

How would you rate your dancing?
I do have rhythm which is always a bonus and I think I’ll be able to pick it up well but it’s just really understanding the weight and the movement and the style and having the guy lead is just foreign to me because we did choreographed pieces and what I’ve done in the Dolls was booty popping and I don’t know if there’s booty pops in the Tango!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?
Someone that is focused and is ready to work hard with me but they have to be goofy. I love having fun and I want to take this seriously but we have to have a bit of fun in order to enjoy it. I’m quite goofy!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
The live telly bit! Even though I’ve done performing I’m just a bit nervous and I don’t want to mess up, I don’t want to fall or miss a step or something. I’ve heard it’s really intense so I think the whole thing is going to be a challenge but I’m up for it.

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone/previous contestants?
I haven’t told a lot of people! From friends that have done it in the past they’ve all just said how amazing it is, the bond that they have with everybody that’s on their cast, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to. Finding some new friends and having a new group of people to hang out with, that’ll be fun.

Do you think your previous performance experience with The Pussycat Dolls will help with your confidence on the dancefloor?
I think so, in a way. Just understanding the performance side of things, how could it not? It’s just for me about learning something that’s different. I haven’t been on stage in this kind of capacity since the Dolls really and I did some stuff with Saturday Night Takeaway, but not performing performing!

CHARLES VENN INTERVIEW

How would you rate your dancing?
I’d like to think I’ve got rhythm. In terms of rating my dancing, I would say I’m probably a 6, still 4 more to go! Between a 5 and a 6 I’d give myself.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
My biggest challenge will be mastering the steps, memorising them. Hopefully from learning scripts that’ll put me in good stead but I take nothing for granted and this is completely different for me

How much time can you commit to Strictly? What else have you got going on?
I’m currently shooting Casualty, I’m playing a series regular on that so that’s going to be challenging, no doubt about that. I will still have to put in 2-3 hour sessions per day so it’s going to be tricky but like I said, life is all about challenges.

What do your Casualty colleagues will think of you doing the show?
Oh I think they’ll be excited. I’ve been told many a time ‘I think you’d be great on Strictly’, so they’ll be very surprised that I’m doing it but excited.

What do your children think of you doing the show?
My son was like ‘Oh Dad, don’t embarrass me’ and the others were like ‘It’s weird you’re going to be dancing with another girl’ that sort of thing.

DANNY JOHN-JULES INTERVIEW

Are you a Strictly fan?
I’m a fan of dance full stop. I started dancing in nightclubs and did a few dance classes to be better than the guys in the clubs. A lot of club dancers did that and went on to be professional dancers.

How would you rate your dancing?
When I was in a local drama group in a church hall I was in the world disco dancing championships in the Hammersmith Apollo. That was the only competition I ever did and I came second or third.

Are you nervous about taking part in Strictly?
I’m not really nervous; I don’t have a fear of losing.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
It’s a bit like my career has been in the past really – dressing up, spangly clothes, diamantes, big earrings, and more makeup than Tina Turner.

Who’s the first person you told? How have people reacted?
My other half who was loving it! They watch it with the kids so they’re all over the moon and so is everyone who knows me pretty much.

Who’s on the list to come watch you dance?
Pretty much everyone who knows me thinks they’re on the wish list!

FAYE TOZER INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I’ve wanted to take part in Strictly forever and it’s just an absolute dream come true! It’s something that I always wanted to do. Last year, Steps came and did the Halloween special and that just spurred me on even more.

Who was the first person you told? How have people reacted?
I was on holiday in Portugal and I was just walking down the street with my husband, got the phone call and I literally bawled my eyes out, I was in shock. I was so amazed and so over the moon. It was brilliant, absolutely wonderful.

How would you rate your dancing?
I think I’d say that I’m a pretty good dancer. I’m very well known for throwing a few shapes with Steps anyway but I’ve never done any ballroom or latin and looking back on past videos and YouTube and things like that, it is a really specific thing so I’m ready to give it my all and give it a go.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Keeping my nerves I think, because it’s a completely foreign situation for me. I can get very nervous and I can actually be quite shy which is probably something that you wouldn’t know. It’s a completely different format for me so I don’t know how I’m going to be.

What are you most nervous about for Strictly?
I think, blanking in the middle of a routine and forgetting where I am! I won’t have the audience doing the moves back to me this time; it’s going to be just me on my own. Tripping over is a bit of a fear, a bad dream that I’ve been having. Falling down the stairs – I mean, anything could happen!

Do you think your performance experience with Steps will help you with your confidence on the dancefloor?
I think my experience in performing on TV is going to help me a little bit because I kind of know what to expect but I’ve never been on my own in the situation I’ve always had the four others to bounce off of and have them to calm me down. H usually says to me if I’m feeling nervous before a show ‘don’t worry you’ve got the job, you’ve got the job. Go out and give it to them’ so I’m going to have to remember that.

GRAEME SWANN INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
Basically because my kids asked me to!

What are you most looking forward to on Strictly?
The outfits and the actual performance aspect. I love performing in front of people, I miss that from when I played cricket so I think I’ll really enjoy the live shows. Most people apparently get really nervous and don’t look forward to it but I’m the opposite. I’m not looking forward to the training but I am looking forward to the show.

What are you not looking forward to?
Having my chest waxed potentially. That’s not happening – I’ll fight to the death if anyone tries it!

Are you going to give all your time to Strictly?
That’s one of my worries actually – I’ve got so much going on as the cricket season is still going on and my job for the BBC is to talk about cricket. So fitting it in may be a bit tricky but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I think the later shows when we get to autumn will be great because the cricket season finishes but the September shows – eeek!

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
If I’m honest I hope to win it! I’m not going to go into a competition unless I’m going in to win it. I’m a sportsman. You won’t find sportsmen doing anything they don’t think they can win.

Winning The Ashes or holding the Glitterball trophy?
Well I’ve won the Ashes three times and I like new challenges…!

JOE SUGG INTERVIEW

Why are you doing Strictly?
So, I’m taking part in Strictly because I have been doing YouTube for six years now and I love it, to me it’s the best job in the world but I love a challenge. And I can’t dance, my dancing skills aren’t great at the moment but I’m excited to learn a new skill.

I wrote out a big list of the pros of doing the show and it was quite a long list, and there were lots of good points – especially knowing my mates and family would love it. Especially my grandparents, because they’re just obsessed with the show. It would make them really proud, I think, to see me go on there and give it a go.

Are you a fan of the show?
Yes! I was in year eight when it started so it’s been a part of my growing up basically. The family all love it which is what got me into it, it’s always been a big thing within our family so it’s very exciting.

How would you rate your dancing?
At the moment I would rate it a 2 out of 10 and that’s me being nice to myself.

How far do you think you’re going to make it in the competition? Are you competitive?
I do have a competitive side but if I’m not very good at something then I usually admit that I’m not good at it and try to turn it into comedy, whereas with this I’d love to actually progress more and more. I played tennis recently for the first time in a long time and I realised why I don’t play tennis very often and it’s because I’m useless at it. It’s one of those things where I know that I’m bad so I try to make everyone laugh by being bad. Hopefully I will do alright.

How do you feel about the spray tans and outfits?
Because it’s going to be on in the autumn and winter you have just got to embrace it, I’m just going to go for it. I’m a big fan of spray tans, I’m happy to get spray tanned if it means I look tanned in the winter. From what I’ve seen of the outfits so far they’ve all be fine but I’m sure more and more sequins will be added each week. I’m excited, bring it on!

Who was the first person you told?
The first person I told was my sister I think. Because she is a big name in the YouTube world and a big name to the public I wanted to get her advice and blessing as I knew straight away that I would be referred to as Zoella’s brother in every news article. Which is completely fine with me but obviously if she doesn’t like that kind of stuff then I would have appreciated that. So I wanted to check with her that she was cool with me doing it and she was like you would have to do it. I think she would love to do it but she’s just a little bit too scared and nervous.

Who is on the list to come and watch you dance?
If I ever got to Blackpool, which is quite far in isn’t it?! If I was lucky enough to get there, I would love to get my 96 year old nan up as she used to dance there when she was young. My nan and grandad as well as they’re one of the main reasons I wanted to do the show. And lots of my YouTube friends, I have to prioritise people I guess as I don’t know how long I will be on there for! So I might have to put the most important people first.

KATE SILVERTON INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
When asked in previous years I have either been away reporting from Iraq and then Afghanistan or raising a young family so the time was not right for me personally or career wise. This year felt perfect and a wonderful interlude to my work in news and journalism.

How are you feeling now that you’ve signed up to the world of Strictly?
I feel absolutely liberated and gleeful about it. It is wonderfully beyond my comfort zone. The nearest thing would be having done Children in Need with my fellow newsreaders – and I remember how nervous we all got about doing that so this will be magnified a thousand times! But life should be nothing if not an adventure and I am looking forward to embracing the experience.

Are you a fan of the show?
It is a show I love watching – usually from the newsroom when I am working on a Saturday night! In the past I could be seen writing my headlines whilst keeping an eye on who is tackling the tango or sizzling in the samba… I have no idea how the professional dancers get complete novices like me to put anything like a routine together but I guess I am about to find out!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
All of it will be a challenge – put it this way I have not worn skirts that short since playing netball in high school. I have never had a man ‘lift’ me and certainly never danced in front of millions so I am headlong into a very steep learning curve!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by any previous contestants?
Katie Derham told me it will be like ‘nothing else I have ever done’ and described it as being a rhinestoned blitz spirit with everyone pulling together through an extraordinary (and glittery) few weeks and months. She also added to have lots of blister plasters and knee supports! Everyone I know who has done it – from Naga (Munchetty) to Charlotte (Hawkins) and Denise (Van Outen) have all said how utterly fantastic it is and just to have the most fun – train hard and have fun.

Are your kids excited?
My son is four and a half and my daughter nearly seven so she is more aware of the programme now although this will be the first time she will have been allowed to stay up late to watch it! I think until they actually see me in costume and dancing they will find it difficult to grasp as a concept. I have simply told Wilbur that mummy will be shaking her bottom and as anyone with a four year old boy will know – any talk of bottoms is utterly hilarious so he’s all in favour.

KATIE PIPER INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
I think it’s a totally new challenge. It’s something I’ve never done before and its totally new territory and I really believe in pushing yourself and taking on new challenges. Probably mainly because it’s actually fun and I’m so excited to do something that I’m excited about, and excited to talk about and I’m going to learn something new. No matter how far I get I’ll notice a big change in myself that will continue after the show.

How would you rate your dancing?
I’m not even on the scale, like seriously! I’m so bad I can’t even clap to the beat when I’m watching a musical!

What are you looking for in a dance partner? Who would you like to be partnered with?
Somebody that’s really confident and who can teach me how to be that confident when moving and dancing on the floor but somebody who can help me have fun with it. I want them to be determined and professional but also help to get the best out of it enjoyment-wise.

How much time can you commit to Strictly? Or are you giving your time to Strictly? What else have you got going on?
I’m going to try to commit as much time as possible. The struggle won’t be other work but more my role as a mum because I have two girls. One was only born in December and my oldest girl loves dancing so I’ll try involve her and get her excited her about it.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
I think that’s one part that I’m going to revel in. I’m quite a glamourous person and I love tanning and makeup so I’m going to be so excited by that. I’ve had a costume fitting and that was so cool because you think where else would you ever get to wear this?!

LAUREN STEADMAN INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I think Strictly, for me, has always been a chance to learn something new, not necessarily make a fool of yourself but just go out there with no pressure and learn a new skill. Obviously dance with a partner and I just love the fact that with Strictly, the whole country gets behind you and it’s more of a family and a community. It’s been my favourite TV show since I was a little girl. Every Saturday night I’d sit down with Mum and Dad with our dinner and watch it and I always thought ‘wow’. I suppose every little girls says ‘I wish I could dance like that’ so that sparked it and then it actually became something that might be possible.

What are you looking for in a dance partner and have you got anyone in mind?
I wouldn’t say I’ve got anyone in mind I’m pretty flexible. But someone quite similar to how I’m coached as an athlete would be ideal: to-the-point, direct, straight talking but with an element of fun. If it’s all work and no play I just don’t function, I need to have a little bit of balance.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
I have looked at some of the dances and seen the different styles and the moves and I think the biggest challenge will be getting around certain moves with my arm, that’s a challenge I’ll take on with my pro. I’m not worried about it but I know we’re going to have to think outside the box and perhaps do things differently but we’ll get around it.

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
I think it’s hard to ask an athlete why are you here? How far do you want to go? Definitely when I start things I’m in it to be the best that I can be. Whether that takes me all the way to the end, I hope it does, I wouldn’t see the point in coming in and not trying to finish but that is just my attitude. If not, I’d just love to get my dancing to the point where I’m proud of myself, I’ve learnt a new skill, gained a new confidence in an area that I didn’t have before , then I’ll be chuffed.

How are you balancing your athletics career with Strictly?
So the World Championships are on the 15th of September so I’m in full training mode until then. I fly home and go straight into Strictly mode. Normally after the championships, triathletes have four to five weeks off but I will be fully focused on Strictly and then I’ll slowly build my training back in. But I have no competitions until April so it’s Strictly all the way!

How do you feel about the Strictly makeovers?
That’s quite exciting because I can be quite girly but most of the time I’m pretty sporty so it’s nice to not be in trainers, sweaty hair, no make-up, sports kit for once!

LEE RYAN INTERVIEW

Are you a fan of the Strictly Come Dancing?
How can you not be a fan? Simon (Webbe) is still talking about his experience four years later!

Have you any previous dance experience?
I did learn dance at Italia Conti when I was young but it was never my favourite class. I used to sneak out and wait for the singing lessons! I asked my son Rain if I am good dancer, he said no…

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Learning all the different routines, I am so out of my comfort zone with this. All we have in Blue is a shoulder move!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone?
Simon has been a great help, he just told me to watch and listen to everyone around me and give it my best and that’s all I can do.

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
I’m in it to win it!

How have people reacted to you taking part?
Once we knew it was happening, my manager told me I couldn’t tell anyone, there’s always this big secret about Strictly so I think for many it was a shock when it was announced. Even the band didn’t know! The feedback has been good; I have had a lot of phone calls and text messages!

DR RANJ SINGH INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
Gosh – it’s always been a dream. Strictly is one of those shows that is loved by so many people and it has a special place in everyone’s lives, it IS Saturday night and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?
I would say someone who is patient because it takes me time to pick stuff up. Somebody who is direct and is able to be honest with me and just say it like it is because I won’t take it the wrong way. And above all that somebody who’s fun really, who can have a laugh with me.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Trying not to get in my own head. I’m a perfectionist and I want to do everything perfectly and it’s good to try and get out of that mind set and think sometimes you just have to be good enough. There’s only a limited time to do this so I’ve just go to lower my expectations a bit.

What are you most nervous about for Strictly?
Two things: going out in week one, I just don’t want that but someone has to but I don’t want to! And falling over… oh and three, splitting my trousers!

You got your first GCSE when you were only eight years old, which proves you’re a quick learner! Will that come in handy when learning the dances?
I am a geek. I like to study and study things until I get it right and I’m hoping that attention to detail in learning will help me pick stuff up but what I’ve learned is that learning movement is totally different to learning information so I don’t know what it’s going to be like, I really don’t.

SEANN WALSH INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
I’m taking part in Strictly because I think it would be absolutely amazing to come out of something having learnt a skill and with the way I am, when I’m not doing stand-up I tend to just sit there and watch television or go to the pub with my mates so this is the way to go. For me to become a fully formed adult I want to do more things like this. After Strictly Come Dancing I want Strictly Come Cooking and then Strictly Come Spanish, Strictly Come Guitar, Strictly Come Driving – do you know what I mean?

Are you a fan of the show?
The last two series I’ve been watching, following it and I’ve started to form an opinion. What happens is, if you’re a bloke your partner might force you to watch it and you might reluctantly view it and then half an hour in you’re going ‘Come on… that was not a 7. That was a 9. That was a superb Paso Doble!’

How would you rate your dancing?
I’m not just saying this; we’re starting at zero here. It’s bad. I’m hoping that we start at zero and we go on a journey and I’m fearful of, we start at zero and we end on a zero.

How do you feel about the hair and makeup on the show?
Well I play a character in a Jack Dee sitcom who’s a sort of rock star called Grizzo. He’s quite flamboyant and I love being him, he wears make-up and his clothes are a bit more extravagant so I’ve got a bit of a taste for it. Getting done up, let’s just do it!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone?
I told my mum and the first thing she said was ‘But Seann, you can’t dance?’ And I’ve told my closest friends and all they’ve done is laugh very loudly and continuously for five minutes. Each and every one of them has had the same reaction.

STACEY DOOLEY INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I have always loved the show. I think it’s brilliant that it’s something the whole family can be involved with and also you’re learning a genuine skill. My work is so heavy and it’s quite hard-core and it can be quite harrowing at times, Strictly is total escapism. A real treat in that sense, dancing and enjoying myself and not have to be too earnest or too straight and just celebrate that side of me.

How would you rate your dancing?
The thing about my dancing is, I actually think I’m magnificent. I think I really look the part. Everyone else around me is like ‘You’ve got to be joking. You’re so erratic, really over the top and you’ve got no rhythm whatsoever’ so it’s a bit of a split jury. We’ll soon see.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
There are a couple of things, the nerves. I think everyone thinks because work is quite rock and roll that I’m quite brave but I am quite nervous, so dealing with those nerves. Also, I’ve got so much work in September I think it’s going to be tricky juggling the dancing, the training and the work.

How do you feel about being the Strictly makeover?
You have to jump in with both feet I think. Normally I’m quite reserved and quite stripped back, I don’t really wear make-up to work and I never look particularly fancy but watch this space.

Which would take centre stage on your mantelpiece, your MBE or the Glitterball trophy?
The Glitterball of course! Must you ask…

SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
Because after twenty years of helping other women gain confidence I think I need some myself and I think Strictly will give me that.

How would you rate your dancing?
Terrible.

Are you a competitive person?
I am very competitive and I have to be realistic about how far I’ll get so I’m keeping my expectations very low but my hopes high.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
I can’t wait to be Strictlified – that’s part and parcel of the show. Seeing how all the clothes are made, I’m obsessed with the whole design. It’s like being made a couture wardrobe, everything is made to measure and those girls are incredible. The way they can manipulate your body with the shapes and sequins, frills, and re-proportion your body and make it look okay.

How do you feel about the Strictly costumes? Will you be critiquing them at all?
I would like to be involved but not directing the costume team as they know what works far better in this instance so I’m just going to be really interested but not controlling.

Who’s on the list to come watch you dance?
My kids and Trinny (Woodall), in fact she was the first person I told and she said to me ‘oh my gosh you’ll be brilliant’ but I don’t think she meant the dancing…

VICK HOPE INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I love dancing, it makes me really happy. I’m not professionally trained or anything, I did a bit of contemporary when I was younger which has nothing to do with latin or ballroom. I used to pretend to be a tree or a rock and express myself experimentally. When I go to a club I don’t think there’s a happier place than when you’re dancing and feeling the music.

When you’re younger you are constantly learning and then you grow up and you stop learning because you have a job and a routine. Learning is so stimulating and exciting and it’s a real privilege to learn something and get my teeth stuck into this.

How would you rate your dancing?
I love dancing although it doesn’t mean that I’m particularly very good at it. At Capital whenever we’re playing songs I literally throw myself around the studio, I like to move to music and I’ve broken chairs, a bit of the wall, spilt coffee everywhere!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Ballroom styles, the techniques and the technicalities. I literally don’t have a clue, I’m going to start watching ballroom dances and Fred Astaire to get to grips with it, I have no picture in my mind of what it’s supposed to look like. I’ve seen it on Strictly but I think you need to back to the very beginning and watch them to know what it’s supposed to be.

HOLLY WILLOUGHBY MOVING TO AUSTRALIA? 0 62

Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield have returned from their summer holiday of dreams to present to present This Morning, and the pair discussed Holly’s exciting new job.

It was confirmed last week that the 36-year-old TV star would be stepping in for Ant McPartlin on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! as he continues to take time out from TV, and now she’s revealed that the whole Willoughby-Baldwin clan will be uprooting to join her in Australia.

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