Strictly Come Dancing 2018 will have same-sex dancers after all

Break out your sequins and hang the ceremonial glitter ball – Strictly Come Dancing 2018 is almost here, and slowly but surely we’re getting a picture of what our favourite show will look like this year.

BBC

Earlier this week, the BBC confirmed that the show would be doing things a little differently this year by having same-sex dancers – which, believe it or not, the broadcaster insists they have done in the past.

Strictly bosses announced that there will be one professional same-sex dance in 2018 and it has already been revealed that series pros Pasha Kovalev and AJ Pritchard will dance together, while Karen Clifton and another female dancer will also hit the dance floor as a pair.

‘This is not unprecedented, every week some of the world’s top choreographers create stunning routines that showcase the skills of our pro dancers,’ a BBC spokesperson told Digital Spy. ‘They can cast and direct the dances however they think best tells the story.’

Last season saw Holby City star Joe McFadden foxtrot his way to victory with professional dancer Katya Jones, beating off stiff competition from celebs including Alexandra Burke, Ruth Langsford, Aston Merrygold and Debbie McGee.

So who’s returning for series 16 – and what can we expect from Strictly 2018?

The celebrities

The full line-ip for the show has finally been confirmed: What Not To Wear‘s Susannah Constantine, Casualty actor Charles Venn, Paralympian Lauren Steadman, Blue’s Lee Ryan, comedian Seann Welsh, reporter Kate Silverton, Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, journalist Stacey Dooley, This Morning‘s Dr Ranj, Capital FM host Vick Hope, cricketer Graeme Swann, Danny John Jules, YouTuber Joe Sugg, singer Faye Tozer and Katie Piper.

There’s no word yet on who will dance with which professional – but whatever happens with their pairings, it’s set to be great season of Strictly Come Dancing. 

Last month, Strictly judge Shirley Ballas also revealed that she is backing same-sex dancers for this year’s show. When asked about reports that This Morning‘s resident physician Dr Ranj Singh wants to dance with a male partner, Shirley said: ‘I think he’s happy with whatever choice he’s given.

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‘I think everything in its good time. I wouldn’t be opposed to him dancing with another man.’

The presenters

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Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly will return to front the primetime show, with Claudia confirming the news with a post on Instagram:

That is, not that we ever doubted their roles – the star said previously to Digital Spy: ‘We do everything together. We text I go, “Tess are you in?” She goes, “I’m in”. Fine. She’s the kindest girl I know and it is a joy to go into work.’

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Zoe Ball has also revealed that she’ll be back for another series of spin-off It Takes Two, confirming the news to Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield during an appearance on This Morning back in April.

The dancers

In May, the official Strictly Twitter account shared the show’s biggest ever line-up of pros, and introduced new additions Johannes Radebe, Graziano Di Prima and Luba Mushtuk.

They’ll join fan 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, bringing the total number of dancers to 18 this year.

However, one Strictly star who won’t be back on our screen is season one winner Brendan Cole, who has left the show after 15 successful series.

‘The BBC haven’t renewed my contract – we get renewed year on year – and they made an editorial decision not to have me back on the show,’ he admitted during an interview on ITV’s Lorraine in January.

Despite saying he was ‘disappointed’ with the decision, Brendan has since sent his well wishes to the current cast, writing on social media: ‘To all of my @bbcstrictly friends on day one of Season 16… Wishing you a fantastic series Xx’.

A behind-the-scenes snap back in July showed that rehearsals for Strictly Come Dancing 2018 are now underway…

The judges

‘I think it is a great team and it was really good last year, I can’t wait to get back into it,’ Craig Revel Horwood said to the Express back in June – suggesting that he, Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell are set to reprise their roles on the judging panel.

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Head judge Shirley, who joined the show last year, seemed to corroborate, saying on Loose Women: ‘I’ve been verbally asked but as of yet I haven’t had a contract, but of course I would be highly delighted to go back on that most fabulous show. I had the time of my life.’

When does Strictly Come Dancing 2018 start?

This season of Strictly Come Dancing will launch this Saturday 8 September at 7.35pm on BBC One.

See you on the dance floor!