Belfast Telegraph

Tear-jerking Sir Bruce tribute leads Strictly’s glittering launch show

The Saturday night spectacular was packed with fabulous dancing, sensational singing and more than a few tears.

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly broke into tears as the team behind the show made a heart-wrenching tribute to late former host, Sir Bruce Forsyth.

The planned piece saw the programme’s professional dancers fill the stage with a beautiful ballroom dance to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon – which Sir Bruce once famously sang on the Strictly stage.

It also featured a number of filmed tributes from show judges and previous contestants, including a comment from Darcey Bussell who said: “It is incredibly odd to think he is not around, but I bet he is watching”.

The renowned entertainer died last month at the age of 89.

Daly, who worked with Sir Bruce on the BBC contest for more than a decade since its first ever night on air, failed to hold back the tears as the room was illuminated with a neon outline of Sir Bruce holding his signature pose, to a standing ovation from the audience.

As this year’s contest launched in a glittering TV extravaganza on Saturday evening, she said: “Sadly, somebody very, very close to our hearts is no longer with us.

“We were all devastated when we heard the news.”

Her current co-presenter Winkleman added: “We all miss him dreadfully. He was so warm and loving, the kindest man in the whole world.”

The all-singing, all-dancing spectacular also revealed the line-up of dancing couples for the first time.

Former JLS singer Aston Merrygold was paired with Janette Manrara, Brian Conley with newcomer Amy Dowden and EastEnders’ Davood Ghadami with Nadiya Bychkova.

Paralympian Jonnie Peacock was joined with Oti Mabuse, Rev Richard Coles with Dianne Buswell and TV chef Simon Rimmer with Karen Clifton.

Among the remaining pairs were singer Alexandra Burke, who will be dancing with Gorka Marquez.

Newsreader Charlotte Hawkins will be taking the stage with Brendan Cole, actress Chizzy Akudolu with Pasha Kovalev and entertainer Debbie McGee with Giovanni Pernice.

Meanwhile, The Saturdays’ Mollie King will be taking the stage with AJ Pritchard, while soap star Gemma Atkinson will be accompanied by Aljaz Skorjanec.

This Morning’s Ruth Langsford was thrilled to be partnered with show veteran Anton Du Beke and joked that she could not wait to make her husband and co-presenter Eamonn Holmes “jealous”.

Finally, it was an emotional moment for comedian Susan Calman who welled up when she was joined with her show favourite Kevin Clifton.

The star-studded evening also welcomed brand new head judge Shirley Ballas, who stunned with her dancing skills as she made her first entrance to the show alongside returning panellists Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Audience members and viewers at home were kept on the edge of their seats with more surprises, including singing performances from Shania Twain and Rita Ora, and last year’s winners Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton, who marked the occasion with their famous jive to Bruno Mars’ Runaway Baby.

All the hopefuls and the professionals closed the show by joining together for their first group dance to classic stage hit, Footloose.

It was followed by a final tribute to Sir Bruce Forsyth as the broadcaster aired a nostalgic photograph of the late TV legend with his birth and death dates on a black background.

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