Belfast Telegraph

Strictly sparkles back on screen

Strictly Come Dancing has returned to television screens in a carnival of sequins and sparkle.

Former footballer Robbie Savage, actress Anita Dobson and astrologer Russell Grant hit the dancefloor as the popular BBC One programme began another lengthy series.

Grant, declaring himself "the high priest of camp" was partnered by Flavia Cacace in a cha-cha-cha that judge Bruno Tonioli described as being "like Frankie Howerd doing Bananarama".

The pair were among seven couples strutting their stuff with the remaining seven performers appearing in Saturday's programme.

Former EastEnders star Dobson stole the show waltzing with partner Robin Windsor. The difficult-to-please judge, Craig Revel Horwood, said the "whole routine was gorgeous" and fellow judge Alesha Dixon applauded Dobson: "You are beautiful to watch as a dancer."

The contestants have been undergoing gruelling training sessions for the past few weeks to ensure they were up to the task when Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly introduced them. At this first stage there is no phone vote and no-one leaves - but the twinkle-toed stars still need to impress the judges, who scored them for their performances.

Lulu's dance with Brendan Cole did not go according to plan with the singer forgetting her steps. Meanwhile, former boxer Audley Harrison, who has size 17 feet, attracted criticism from Revel Horwood for his "wooden" waltz and joked he "might have to see him later in the back room".

Former Premier League midfielder Robbie Savage didn't dance enough while partner Ola Jordan "flew about like a wasp at a picnic", according to judge Len Goodman.

Australian actress and model Holly Valance made a steady start with partner Artem Chigvintsev scoring 28 out of 40 - joint top with Dobson and Windsor.

Breakfast television presenter Dan Lobb was told he needed to smile more.

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