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Strictly 2020 pairings: Nicola Adams and Katya Jones CONFIRMED as show's first ever same-sex couple

The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series.

Celebrities including Nicola Adams, Jamie Laing and Maisie Smith discovered which professional dancer would put them through their paces in the upcoming weeks. 

The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link.








It's back! The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series

It’s back! The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 pairings were revealed on Saturday night during the highly-anticipated pre-recorded launch show for the 18th series

This will allow for couples to form their own individual ‘bubbles’ for training and performances, meaning the stars will have maintain distance from each other during filming.  

Elsewhere during the show, the pros dazzled with a sensational opening routine with judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel-Horwood were seated on separate podiums to ensure the programme adheres to COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

Fourth judge Bruno Tonioli was unable to travel back to the UK from his home in LA for the filming due to the Covid-19 crisis and his work commitments on Dancing With The Stars. 

Making history: Celebrities including Nicola Adams (pictured with pro partner Katya Jones), Jamie Laing and Maisie Smith discovered which professional dancer would put them through their paces in the upcoming weeks

Making history: Celebrities including Nicola Adams (pictured with pro partner Katya Jones), Jamie Laing and Maisie Smith discovered which professional dancer would put them through their paces in the upcoming weeks 

Paired: The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link (Jamie and pro partner Karen Hauer pictured)

Paired: The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via video link (Jamie and pro partner Karen Hauer pictured) 

He has spent the last 15 years jetting between the US and the UK for the two shows but coronavirus travel restrictions have scuppered his schedule.

Also during the show, presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman reunited with the pair ensuring they stood at least two metres apart throughout the episode.

The first celebrity to meet her partner was Caroline, 60, who had headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in South Bank, London, where she was surprised on stage by pro Johannes, 33, who sweetly held a bouquet of flowers.

Upon meeting for the first time, the Men Behaving Badly star gushed: ‘Oh, I am so glad it’s you, you’re the one I want! Hooray, it’s us together!’ 








Fun times: The first celebrity to meet her partner was Caroline, 60, who had headed to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in South Bank, London, where she was surprised on stage by pro Johannes, 33, who sweetly held a bouquet of flowers

Fun times: The first celebrity to meet her partner was Caroline, 60, who had headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in South Bank, London, where she was surprised on stage by pro Johannes, 33, who sweetly held a bouquet of flowers 

Yay: Clara Amfo, 36, and Aljaz Skorjanec, 30, were announced as a pairing

Yay: Clara Amfo, 36, and Aljaz Skorjanec, 30, were announced as a pairing 

Lovely: Next up to meet their professional partner was GMB star Ranvir Singh, 43, who was paired with Giovanni Pernice, 30

Lovely: Next up to meet their professional partner was GMB star Ranvir Singh, 43, who was paired with Giovanni Pernice, 30

And the duo wasted no time as Johannes quickly spun Caroline around Shakespeare’s Globe to which he declared: ‘It’s fire, it’s hot!’

Talking in the studio, Caroline said: ‘I love him, he makes me happy,’ to which he added: ‘Darling, I am going to flip her up, down, side-to-side, she doesn’t know what is coming!’   

Next up was Clara, 36, who was surprised by her pro partner Aljaz, 30, during her radio duties at the BBC studios.

She said: ‘I am so pleased, his energy, I immediately connected with it.’

Sweet: Hrvy, 21, and Janette Manrara, 36, were announced as a pairing on the show

Sweet: Hrvy, 21, and Janette Manrara, 36, were announced as a pairing on the show 

Competitive!

Competitive! Jason Bell, 42, and Luba Mushtuk, 30, were the next pairing to be announced on the show 

Happy: Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, 57, and Anton Du Beke, 54, were delighted to be partnered together

Happy: Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, 57, and Anton Du Beke, 54, were delighted to be partnered together 

While Aljaz added: ‘She seems like such a lovely, cool, girl. I can’t wait to get started!’

Talking on the show after their pairing was aired, Clara said: ‘Aljaz was definitely in my top three, the number one, it’s all about you!’

Next up to meet their professional partner was GMB star Ranvir, 43, who was surprised on a walk with her pet dog by Giovanni, 30.

Admitting she was ‘sick with nerves’ before hand, the presenter revealed that she had a dream about Giovanni before their pairing and joked it was a premonition.

She quipped: ‘I actually had a dream about you, so dreams do come true!’ to which Giovanni replied: ‘I am so happy!’

Back in the studio, Giovanni revealed that their first dance next Saturday would be a Pasodoble to Beyonce, while Ranvir sweetly shared that her son, Tushaan, eight, is ‘super proud’ and told her she had to agree to take part. 

Next up was singer Hrvy, 21, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, who was surprised at a concert venue by Janette, 36. 

The star was left overjoyed to be with Janette, calling their partnership a ‘fiery mess’, he said: ‘We have the same excitement, we’re going to bounce off each other really well.’

Back in the studio, Hrvy, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, was asked about how he was feeling since recovering and testing negative.

He said: ‘I can’t believe I made it this far, I tested positive, isolated with my family, I’m here.’ 

Elsewhere, Janette revealed she has to live separately from her husband and fellow pro Aljaz throughout the competition.

Former boxer Nicola, 37, and professional dancer Katya, 31, were confirmed as a pairing and are set to make history as the show’s first-ever same-sex couple.

It had been reported for weeks that the duo would be teamed up after they were spotted leaving filming together with fellow pro Karen Hauer reportedly ‘gutted’ to have lost out to Katya.

A source revealed to The Sun: ‘Karen is absolutely gutted. For ages she was the favourite to get the nod to dance with Nicola and had even gone as far as planning out routines for them to perform.’  

They went on to say that the duo had got to ‘know each other’ quite well and had become ‘good friends’, they added: ‘She’d not only got her heart set on dancing with Nicola, she had prepared herself for it mentally. So for them to suddenly decide to pick Katya was a massive blow.’

The Venezuelan beauty had long been tipped as favourite to pair up with Nicola, but it’s said that producers opted to go with Katya instead, believing she’ll have ‘perfect chemistry’ with the boxer.

The source added to the publication: ‘Dancing with Nicola is the job all the professionals wanted. It is the most sought-after position in showbiz right now. So for Katya to get the nod has underlined her as the queen of the show.’

They added that the Russian stunner is ‘absolutely delighted’ at the news and cannot keep the smile off her face. MailOnline contacted a Strictly representative for comment at the time. 

Nicola recently joked about the ‘Strictly Curse’ and insisted that there is nothing that can ‘compete’ with what she has with her girlfriend Ella Baig, 22. 

She told the Daily Mail: ‘Our family and friends have been taking the mickey about the ‘Strictly Curse’ but she’s fine. She knows I love her and she completes me, so anybody else just doesn’t come close.

‘When you’re in a relationship and you’re completely satisfied, there’s no need for anybody else. There’s nothing that can compete with what Ella and I have.’ 

Elsewhere celebrity Jamie, 31, failed to reunite with professional dancer Oti Mabuse. The duo were originally paired up on the 2019 series but he was forced to pull out of the show after the launch episode after suffering a nasty foot injury, Oti went on to win the show with replacement contestant Kelvin Fletcher.

The Made In Chelsea star, who recently admitted he has felt under ‘pressure’ to do well after Oti and Kelvin scooped the coveted Glitterball Trophy, was instead paired with Karen Hauer. 

This year’s Strictly has been more anticipated than ever as the country is in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, and has seen drastic changes to ensure the series could go ahead, albeit with a shortened run. 

During the show, Tess and Claudia were separated from the orchestra by a clear perspex screen in order to adhere to Covid-19 regulations. 

The launch consisted of the celebrities discovering their professional partners for the first time, though in a post-COVID change, they were instead revealed via. video link.

This will allow for couples to form their own individual ‘bubbles’ for training and performances, meaning the stars will have maintain distance from each other during filming. 

The professional dancers took to the stage to showcase their dance moves with a sensation opener, and were also accompanied by a stunning performance by Joel Corry and MNEK.

Judges Craig, Shirley and Motsi also took their place on the panel, though this year saw them sat on separate desks to maintain social distancing.

Fourth judge Bruno has been unable to appear in the studio due to travel restrictions introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will make guest appearances from his home in Los Angeles. 

Strictly has already had its fair share of scares even before Saturday’s launch, after Hrvy tested positive for coronavirus just days before filming for the launch was scheduled to take place.

It was called into question whether he would be able to take part, but he has since been declared COVID-free and can continue with training for the show.

It had been reported that stars and their professional partners may be forced to undertake daily checks for coronavirus after a former crew member tested positive days before the new series. 

The Sun has also claimed that bosses have a list of ‘stand-by’ celebrities for the show in case a star falls ill with relatives likely banned from rehearsals. 

How is Strictly 2020 going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Strictly Come Dancing has introduced an array of strict measures to ensure the new series can go ahead during the COVID-19 crisis.

Celebrity contestants and their professional partners are tested regularly, with cast and crew told to isolate should they contract the virus.

Bosses have already confirmed any celebrity that tests positive once the series begins will be dropped from the show, with reports saying there are celebrities on stand-by.

The professional dancers have already pre-recorded their group performances after isolating together in a hotel.

It’s also been claimed that celebrities and pros will be axed from the show if they are caught kissing during filming.

Strictly 2020 has also seen the series run shortened to just nine weeks, with 12 celebrities taking part instead of the usual 15.

The show’s annual trip to Blackpool has been cancelled, along with this year’s Halloween and Christmas specials.

Only three judges – Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse – will be in the studio with separate rostrums, after Bruno Tonioli was unable to appear due to travel concerns. 

Veteran judge Bruno has said he will be ‘involved remotely’ and hopes to return full-time towards the end of the series as he is filming the US version of the show in Los Angeles. 

With limited studio crew, big sets may not be built – so producers will use augmented reality, which adds computer-generated elements.

To ensure the contestants can work closely with their partners, they will ‘bubble up’ to train, along with being tested regularly. 

Strictly will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in groups on separate tables, and will only attend if from the same household or bubble.

This year has already seen the pros pre-record all of their group performances while isolating together in a hotel, and the couples have formed separate bubbles to train and perform together.  

The series will still feature a live audience, however fans will sit in small groups and will only be allowed to attend if from the same household or bubble.

In a recent Q and A, executive producer Sarah James shed light on the show’s contingency plans in light of the pandemic and insisted she’s ‘confident’ the competition series will go ahead even if the current coronavirus restrictions change. 

As the nation waits to see how the stars will fare, Strictly bosses have drawn up tough plans to deal with anyone who falls ill.

Sarah said: ‘Obviously according to government guidelines if you receive a positive test you have to isolate for two weeks and that would unfortunately rule them out of the show.’ 

This year’s series will be a pared down nine-week run with a very different look. The 12 partnerships – three less than usual – will be unveiled via video link rather than in the studio and the annual trip to the Blackpool Tower ballroom is also off the cards.

Explaining their use of the bubble system to ensure couples can train and perform, she added: ‘Close contact cohorts (CCC) apply to people who need to work closely and break social distancing rules to do their jobs. It has to only be with one person and you are regularly tested.

‘We are asking the celebrity contestants to be part of an exclusive support bubble with their dancers, which means that one half of the party has to live alone.’

The professionals spent two weeks in September isolating in a Buckinghamshire hotel so they could rehearse the group numbers.

Sarah also discussed how hairdressers and make-up artist have had to adjust to the new guidelines as she added: ‘Hair and make-up and costume are all allowed in accordance with government guidelines. 

‘We were able to have our hair and make-up team working with full PPE and sanitising once hairdressers and other facilities reopened. 

‘Hair and make-up were able to work with as many of the different cast as they wanted or needed to, but this year we’ll have specific makeup teams assigned to specific couples to ensure people don’t mix as much.’

Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones and Graziano Di Prima have been axed from the main line-up and won’t be coupled up with celebrity contestants for this year’s edition, but will instead form their own CCCs to perform together as support to guest singers on each show.  

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 7:25pm on BBC One.

Strictly Come Dancing Contestants 2020

CAROLINE QUENTIN

Age: 60

Profession: Actress, known for roles in Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek

Caroline says: ‘I hope my knees don’t let me down and I hope the foundation garments live up to expectations when I start leaping about!’

Fun fact: She met her now-husband, Sam Farmer in 1998 on the set of Men Behaving Badly when he was one of the studio runners.

MAX GEORGE 

 Age: 31

Profession: Singer – from former boy band The Wanted

Max says: ‘Nan – I’m doing Strictly this year!’ as he vowed to make his superfan grandmother proud

Fun Fact: Max’s fellow The Wanted bandmate Jay McGuiness was on Strictlby Come Dancing in 2015 – and won it!  

CLARA AMFO

 Age: 36

Profession: Radio 1 presenter

Clara says: ‘As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy’

Fun fact:  Clara has some experience of celeb gameshows, having taken part on Celebrity Masterchef in 2018

BILL BAILEY 

 Age: 55

Profession: Comedian and TV personality

Clara says: ‘I’m not Lord of the Dance, more a sort of caretaker of the dance’

Fun fact:  Bill is a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist

 

 MAISIE SMITH 

 Age: 19

Profession: EastEnders actress

Maisie says: ‘Get me in those sequins, I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter!’

Fun fact:  Maisie won the 2019 Children In Need special of Strictly with Kevin Clifton 

 

 HRVY

 

 Age: 21

Profession: YouTube star 

HRVY says: ‘Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year.’

Fun fact:  HRVY follows in the footsteps of former internet star contestants Joe Sugg and Saffron Barker – the latter of whom is close friends with him 

 

JASON BELL

Age: 42

Profession: Retired American Football player – now a pundit

 Jason says: ‘I am thrilled. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve been watching it since I came to this country, so it’s time for me to do something cool to impress my daughter, now that she can watch me perform!’

Fun Fact: Jason is the father of Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle’s daughter. The couple were together for 11 years, only splitting recently in 2019

 RANVIR SINGH 

 Age: 43

Profession: ITV broadcaster, Political Editor for GMB

Ranvir says:  ‘It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster… Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!’

Fun fact: Ranvir is the fourth GMB star to star following Susanna Reid, Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins.

 

NICOLA ADAMS  

 Age: 37

Profession: Double Olympic gold medallist boxer

Nicola says: ‘I’m a huge fan of the show and am thrilled to be part of something that holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts’

Fun fact:  Nicola will form the show’s first ever same-sex pairing as she is parterned with a female professional. 

   

  JJ CHALMERS

 Age: 55 Profession: Comedian and TV personality Clara says: ‘I’m not Lord of the Dance, more a sort of caretaker of the dance’ Fun fact: Bill is a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist

Age: 33

Profession: Ex Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist

JJ says: ‘Strictly is a whole different ball game in respect to the challenges I will face but I’m up for an adventure’

Fun fact:  JJ is close friends with Prince Harry after they worked together on the Invictus Games

 

 JAMIE LAING 

 Age: 31

Profession: Made In Chelsea star

Jamie says: ‘I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing!’

Fun fact:  Jamie was forced to pull out of the 2019 series of Strictly after a foot injury 

 

RT HON JACQUI  SMITH

 Age: 57

Profession: Politician

Jacqui says: ‘I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly – and that’s very rare for me…!’

Fun fact:  Fifty years ago, she received a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing 

 

  

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