It’s an event that unites the nation in front of their television sets every 25th December – the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. Every year, celebrities from previous season return to wow audiences with new and improved routines, and the line-up for 2018 looks bigger and better than ever.
This year, the Strictly Christmas special theme is fairytales, with sets that focus on ‘making dreams come true’. Hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will, of course, be on hand to lead the festivities, while judging panel Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas will be offering their best Christmas criticism – although it’ll be down to the studio audience to decide which duo will be crowned the winners, and awarded the famous Silver Star trophy.
Here’s who’ll be rocking around the Christmas tree this year:
Anita Rani (series 13)
Presenter Anita reached the semi-final of the competition in 2015, where she was partnered with Gleb Savchenko. ‘I can’t contain my excitement about dancing again and getting sparkly for Strictly, stepping back inside the glitter ball of glam!’ she exclaimed of returning for the Christmas special.
Ann Widdecombe (series 8)
Former Conservative MP Ann, who took to the dance floor with Anton Du Beke, is ‘very much looking forward to returning to Strictly’, ‘where I shall once again be pushed, pulled, cajoled and coaxed around the dancefloor in all manner of ways by my poor dance partner.’ ‘Who knows,’ she added, ‘they might even fire me out of a canon.’
Caroline Flack (series 12)
‘I can’t quite believe it’s been four years since I had the best time of my life, dancing with Pasha on the Strictly dance floor,’ winner of series 12 Caroline said. ‘My Glitterball still has pride of place in my living room! It always felt like a family at the SCD studios, so how could I say no to performing one last time on this year’s Christmas special? It’ll be the best present I could imagine.’
Aston Merrygold (series 15)
JLS band member Aston left the competition sixth in 2017 when partnered with Janette Manrara, and hopes that Christmas will be his redemption. ‘I’m so happy to be able to get back in the Strictly floor,’ he declared. ‘I feel like I’ve got some unfinished business with it!’
Jake Wood (series 12)
‘It’s been a few years since I donned the sequins so I can’t wait to do it all over again for the Christmas Special,’ EastEnders actor Jake, who also danced with Janette, recalled. ‘I loved my experience on Strictly Come Dancing and I jumped at the chance when they asked if I wanted to step back onto the dancefloor.’
Michael Vaughn (series 10)
Retired cricketer Michael danced with Natalie Lowe six year ago. ‘Having not danced at all since 2012 I can’t be any worse than then as I had no clue then, still have no clue,’ he admitted, ‘but can’t wait to have some fun and at least it will help lose a few pounds over the Xmas party season!’
The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas 2018 special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.