WATCH out X Factor, you’ve got competition for Saturday night supremacy, because Strictly is back – well, sort of.
The actual pro-celebrity ballroom contest won’t start for a little while yet, but Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will be whetting our appetites for the paso dobles and Viennese waltzes to come with the Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show tonight.
It’s a chance for fans to see the famous faces who have signed up for three months of fake tan, sequins and fancy footwork, and expectations will be high.
Liverpool-born former MP Edwina Currie is among this year’s line-up with includes former soccer bad boy Robbie Savage, Jason Donovan and the rather eccentric Nancy Dell’Olio, the former partner of Sven-Goran Eriksson.
One Show host Alex Jones will also be slipping into sequins along with Lulu, ex-EastEnder Anita Dobson, impressionist Rory Bremner, boxing champion Audley Harrison, and singer Holly Valance.
TV astrologer Russell Grant has already shed several stone in preparation for the series.
At the more youthful end of the list of contestants are Harry Judd – drummer in chart band McFly – and actress Chelsee Healey, one of the stars of BBC1 drama Waterloo Road.
And if the celebs are feeling nervous, perhaps they should spare a thought for the professional dancers, who will be finding out who they will be mentoring this year.
No doubt many of them will be hoping to get a twentysomething pop star or a superfit sportsman, but as veteran Brendan Cole – one of only three dancers to have been with the show since the beginning, can tell you – it’s not always that easy to spot a winner.
He explains: “Let’s face it, most of the show is down to personality. People can start out not so good, and go on to develop a character throughout and just get better and better.
“It’s all do with the chemistry of the couple, so the BBC try to pair people up who are going to get on well or be a bit fiery together, and they really do a good job.”
But while it may be a bit too early to predict this year’s champions, that doesn’t mean the show’s judges won’t be forming an opinion. And of course Len Goodman, Alesha Dixon, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli are all back.
It won’t just be the stars under scrutiny – we’ll also get to check out new professional dancer Pasha Kovalev.
Special treats are also being lined up and tonight it is a performance by Dolly Parton – but could it turn out that she’s also been persuaded to swap her cowboy boots for dancing shoes? If so, Anton du Beke, who tends to get the more mature contestants, won’t be able to believe his luck.
Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show, BBC One, Tonight, 6.10pm.