Strictly Come Dancing week one wows judges and viewers

Following last week’s glitzy launch show, Strictly Come Dancing returned tonight for its first live show of the series.

The celebrity contestants took it in turns to put their best foot forward as they took to the Strictly ballroom to compete with their new professional partners for the very first time.

Week one saw the couples take on Sambas, Jives and Waltzes set to the music of Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift, Diana Ross and more.

The show opened with a dreamy group dance set to Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles.

From a moody Tango to a stylish quickstep, Strictly Come Dancing week one saw a wide variety of dance styles – with three couples really shining through as early favourites.

The series is the first since the departure of fan favourite judge Bruno Tonioli, who has been replaced by former Strictly pro Anton Du Beke.

First couple to take to the floor, Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden, wowed the crowd with their spritely Cha Cha to September by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Fans on Twitter seemed to be impressed too:

But what did the judges make of it? Shirley Ballas said Tom ‘set the standard’ for the series, while Anton congratulated the pair on a ‘fabulous start to the series’. But their number wasn’t praised across the board as Craig Revel Horwood branded the performance ‘wooden’.

The pair scored a total of 21 points.

Tilly Ramsay stepped out on the dancefloor following her first week at university. Joined by partner Nikita Kuzmin, the pair Waltzed to Consequences by Camila Cabello, scoring 21 points.

Shirley heralded the performance as “poised and extremely mature,” while Motsi thought it was “absolutely beautiful,” but criticised her technical footwork. Meanwhile, Craig said the dance “lacked expression in the arms, but told a very sweet, believable story’.

Next up was sports broadcaster Ugo Monye with Strictly pro Oti Mabuse. Tackling what is widely regarded as the hardest style on the series – the Samba – the pair managed a respectable 18 points.

Anton praised the pair’s “great effort,” while high praise came from head judge Shirley, who said “you reinvented the volta for me”. Even Craig couldn’t stay stoney-faced as he told the pair: “you threw absolutely everything at it”

Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu shot straight to the top of the leader board early doors with 27 points for their romantic Viennese Waltz to End of the Road by Boyz II Men

Anton praised the pair for their “immaculate footwork”, while Shirley named Rhys “a talent to watch”. Craig said “it was a bit frantic for me but your frame was absolutely lovely throughout”.

Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies and Aljaž Škorjanec danced the Cha Cha to The Boss by Diana Ross – but Twitter was not kind. One viewer tweeted “Aljaz deserves so much more”.

Another added: “Got a feeling it may be a short run for Aljaž was bit slow for a Cha Cha Cha for me but give it to her for giving it a go as she not danced before.”

It seems the judges weren’t inspired either, scoring them just 17 points.

Motsi Mabuse said: “I thought it was really sophisticated. Sweet and salty at the same time. We like a bit of flavour.”

She added: “What a start.”

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova danced an energetic Quickstep to Everybody Needs Somebody to Love by The Blues Brothers, scoring 24 points.

Anton Du Beke told him: “I have to be honest with you, I was a bit nervous about this.

“I thought you were going to be awful, but you were terrific.”

Walker dedicated his dance to Louise Minchin, who recently left BBC Breakfast.

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice scored 22 for their Jive to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.

Anton Du Beke said: “This is the most fun watching a dance I have had for a long time. I absolutely loved it.”

Ayling-Ellis, who plays Frankie Lewis in EastEnders, is the first deaf contestant to appear on the programme.

Coronation Street’s Katie McGlynn and Gorka Marquez danced the Tango to Black Hole by Griff, scoring 22.

Judge Shirley Ballas said: “Girl, you came in, you attacked.”

Robert Webb and Dianne Buswell performed an “enjoyable” Cha Cha to Rasputin by Boney M, which Craig branded “hilarious”.

The pair scored 20 for their efforts, as Craig Revel Horwood said: “At this point, I couldn’t care less about technique.

“It’s a great crowd-pleaser, I loved it. Absolutely hilarious.”

Watch the full dance below:

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Greg Wise and Karen Hauer impressed judges with the brave use of props in week one for their American Smooth to That’s Life by Frank Sinatra.

The pair were scored 24 for their efforts.

Nina Wadia hoped to channel her “inner Beyoncé” in her Samba with partner Neil Jones.

Shirley praised Wadia’s moves as being “worthy of week seven”, earning the couple an impressive week one score of 24 points.

Craig Revel Horwood said: “Nina, who knew that was in you, my darling.”

Shirley Ballas added: “The dance that everybody wants to avoid is the samba, and you did things in this routine that look like they belong in week seven for me.”

She added: “For week one, outstanding.”

Great British Bake Off star John Whaite and Johannes Radebe – Strictly’s first all-male pairing – were scored 30 by the judges, taking them to joint-second place on the leaderboard for their Tango to Blue Monday by New Order.

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Anton Du Beke said: “Last week you said you wanted to make it about the dancing and let me tell you, you absolutely made it about the dancing because that was a great dance.”

He added: “Just carry on like that please and I will be delighted. Fabulous.”

Shirley Ballas added: “Well, I feel this is a testament to the same-sex couple.

“It was absolutely exquisite.”

Judi Love and Graziano Di Prima were scored 24 for their American Smooth to Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin.

Anton Du Beke said: “I loved that. I love you two together, this makes me happy.

“The chemistry is great, you play off each other beautifully and that’s going to be your thing.”

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington’s Jive to Gold Dust by DJ Fresh stole the show, scoring 34 – the first time Shirley has scored a nine in week one.

The pair were praised by Anton for their “week nine quality” performance, while Craig praised the dance as “incredible”, and Motsi called it “the best dance of the evening”.

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones delivered a steamy Cha Cha to Beggin’ by Måneskin which left head judge Shirley “in awe”.

Anton Du Beke said: “It was tremendous. If you just keep that going through the series, you will be just fine.”

Shirley Ballas added: “It was effortless and it moved in every direction.”

The final couple closed the show with an impressive score of 30 points – leaving them in joint second-place with John and Johannes.

Although tonight’s show marks the official start of the competition, the pressure is somewhat off, because no one will be sent home in the first week.

Instead, the scores awarded by the judges for the week one dances will be carried over into next week, when viewers will be given the opportunity to vote to save their favourite couple.

This means that there won’t be a Sunday night show this week, with the usual double-bill format returning the following week.

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