Belfast Telegraph

Strictly dancers excited as rehearsals for new series kick off

The 2018 series of the show is officially under way…

Strictly Come Dancing’s professional stars shared their excitement as they started rehearsals for the forthcoming series.

Dancer Gorka Marquez was among those taking to the dance floor, and he tweeted: “We are back!! @bbcstrictly 2018 starts today. Excited for my 3rd series.

“Who will be sharing the dance floor with me and learning to not only dance, but also trying to understand my Spanish Accent? #strictly2018.”

Marquez was a runner-up in last year’s series along with his partner, singer Alexandra Burke.

Amy Dowden, who joined Strictly in 2017 and was partnered with comedian Brian Conley, wrote: “It’s the first day of rehearsals!!!!

“Feeling EXCITED & nervous! Can’t wait to see everyone and meet the new pros! Bring on #strictly2018, I’m ready.”

AJ Pritchard, who will return for his third series and who danced with Saturdays star Mollie King last year, tweeted: “GOOD MORNING @bbcstrictly. Ready & Raring to go, YES I am an hour early…”

Another professional dancer from the series, Giovanni Pernice, had written the previous day of his eagerness to get back to Strictly’s dance floor.

In an Instagram post along with his co-stars Aljaz Skorjanec, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse, he wrote: “Absolutely The best time, and guess what ??? We are super ready for tomorrow … @bbcstrictly is coming back !! Not long now.”

The judges and celebrity contestants for this year’s Strictly have yet to be revealed.

In May the BBC announced the names of the three new professional dancers who will be joining the line-up.

They are Italian Latin champion Graziano Di Prima, South African Latin champion Johannes Radebe and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk.

Brendan Cole will not be returning for the new series and neither will Chloe Hewitt, who joined in 2016.

Cole, who won the first series of Strictly with Natasha Kaplinsky in 2004, sent a good luck video message via Instagram, writing: “To all of my @bbcstrictlyfriends on day one of Season 16… Wishing you a fantastic series Xx”

The show’s executive producer, Louise Rainbow, also revealed that this year’s total of 18 dancers is the biggest ever line-up of professionals on Strictly, which does not yet have a start date.

Last year’s Strictly was won by former Holby City actor Joe McFadden and his dance partner Katya Jones.

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