Belfast Telegraph

Strictly dance pairings revealed

Strictly Come Dancing contestants have been teamed up with the professionals who will guide them through the series, as their pairings were announced.

Viewers saw Judy Murray coupled with show regular Anton Du Beke and declaring she was "absolutely delighted" with the choice during the launch edition of the BBC One hit.

Aljaz Skorjanec, who won the contest last year with partner Abbey Clancy, has been paired with larger-than-life This Morning reporter Alison Hammond.

Fans will now wait until shows on September 26 and 27 to see each of the teams perform routines together when the series proper begins, giving them three weeks to rehearse.

Sir Bruce Forsyth made a guest appearance to hand over the baton for future presenting duties to Claudia Winkleman and his old co-host Tess Daly who will front the show this year.

TV wildlife host Steve Backshall has been paired with Ola Jordan and was pleased with the combination. He said: "I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me, 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' - meaning 'even you'."

Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace will be strutting his stuff with Aliona Vilani and he declared: "I am very happy because I know what an amazing dancer she is. I am really chuffed, I've watched Aliona dance and she is amazing."

The programme went head to head with rival The X Factor with the two shows in an annual TV ratings tussle. Strictly has been ahead for the past two years.

Last year's winning pair - Abbey and Aljaz - reunited during the show to perform a waltz.

The full list of pairings is

:: Pixie Lott and Trent Whiddon

:: Jennifer Gibney and Tristan McManus

:: Judy Murray and Anton Du Beke

:: Alison Hammond and Aljaz Skorjanec

:: Sunetra Sarker and Brendan Cole

:: Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev

:: Frankie Bridge and Kevin Clifton

:: Gregg Wallace and Aliona Vilani

:: Scott Mills and Joanne Clifton

:: Tim Wonnacott and Natalie Lowe

:: Mark Wright and Karen Hauer

:: Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff

:: Thom Evans and Iveta Lukosiute

:: Jake Wood and Janette Manrara

:: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan

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