The first live episode of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing got under way with a tribute to frontline NHS staff.
Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly thanked the workers, who were sat in the audience, before the celebrities took to the dance floor.
Reality TV star Jamie Laing was the first to dance live, performing the cha cha cha with his partner, Karen Hauer.
Stringent Covid measures are in place for this year’s show, including judges sitting separately from each other.
“Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and everything you continue to do and we really hope you enjoy tonight,” Winkleman said to the NHS staff, who sat at a social distance.
image captionOlympic boxer Nicola Adams (right) and Katya Jones made history as Strictly’s first same-sex couple, dancing the quickstep
image captionMade In Chelsea star Jamie Laing was the first to dance live, dancing the cha cha cha with Karen Hauer
Laing was invited back for a second year after having to leave the last series when he was injured.
“I’ve been waiting a whole year to do the Strictly training,” he said. “Now I’m here, I’m feeling the pressure.”
Judge Craig Revel Horwood called Laing’s performance “flat-footed, very tight and restricted”, and added: “That might have something to do with those lovely trousers you are wearing, don’t leave much to the imagination, do they!”
Laing said afterwards he was “nearly physically sick” at the prospect of dancing first, doing the cha cha cha with Karen Hauer.
“I had to go to the bathroom – I thought I was going to throw up. I gagged a little bit but I was fine,” he said.
image captionActress Caroline Quentin became emotional after performing the American Smooth with her professional partner Johannes Radebe
Actress Caroline Quentin was in tears after performing the American Smooth with her professional partner Johannes Radebe.
Judge Shirley Ballas told her she was “graceful, charming, elegant and you have the most exquisite sense of timing… You did yourself so proud today”.
image captionFormer home secretary Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke took to the dancefloor with top hats, performing the foxtrot
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke took to the dance floor with top hats, performing the foxtrot.
“This is my chance to show you can have a new adventure, even when you’re getting on a bit,” Smith said.
She played on her former career as a politician, with a dance which began with Smith pretending to be a candidate sitting next to a ballot box.
After spelling out his criticisms, Revel Horwood had some good news.
“When you consider [former prime minister] Theresa May and her dancing, I think you’re 10 times better than that,” he said.
The pair were awarded a three, five, and five from the judges.
image captionSinger Max George and Dianne Buswell
image captionTV presenter and former marine JJ Chalmers with professional dancer Amy Dowden
image captionRadio and television presenter Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec
image captionTV presenter Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice
Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez wowed judges with a samba, scoring 24 points.
They won a standing ovation from judges Motsi Mabuse and Ballas, with Smith called an “absolute firecracker”.
image captionMaisie Smith and Gorka Marquez wowed judges with a samba, scoring 24 points
image captionFormer American footballer Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk
image captionActor and comedian Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse
image captionSinger HRVY and Janette Manrara closed the show with a jive
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