Grab your sequins and scoring paddles because Strictly Come Dancing 2020 is finally here!
The show’s 18th series kicks off in earnest this weekend, with the first dances taking place on Saturday.
This year’s contestants are preparing themselves for their big debuts by getting in some last minute practice ahead of their first dance, and anticipation couldn’t be higher.
Week one on Strictly has always been one of the most exciting moments of the year’s telly, with contestants and their professional partners looking to make a good first impression and win over fans from the get go.
There’s even more to look forward to this time around, too. The show is set to make history this year, with Nicola Adams and Katya Jones becoming Strictly’s first-ever same-sex female pairing.
With the show’s return just around the corner, we’re taking a moment to remember some of the best first dances ever seen on the show, from beautiful waltzes to unforgettable cha cha chas. Can any of this year’s crop top them?
Zoe Ball – 2005
Zoe Ball holds the record for the highest ever points total in a Strictly opening week, after she scored an incredible 35 out of 40 way back on the third series of the show in 2005. The presenter received a huge amount of praise from the judges for her waltz with professional dancer Ian White, setting the pace for those around her to follow. Zoe went on to finish third in the show and thankfully she stayed part of the Strictly family for years, going on to host It Takes Two. If any of this year’s contestants can match her on Saturday, we’ll have something special on our hands.
Mark Ramprakash – 2006
There aren’t too many Strictly winners who impress right from the very first week of the show, but eventual champion Mark Ramprakash really hit the ground running back in 2006. He put in a cracking display during his debut cha cha cha in series five, showing the kind of elegant footwork that served him so well during his cricket career. He showed his fast-moving hips too – which judge Arlene Phillips admitted she couldn’t take her eyes off.
Emma Bunton – 2006
Mark might have won series four, but Spice Girl Emma Bunton was another standout contestant in one of the competition’s strongest years. Achieving a very strong 33 points in her first appearance, Emma delivered a graceful quickstep with professional partner Darren Bennett to I Got Rhythm, gliding across the floor with the kind of finesse that any performer would be proud of on their first go. It was little surprise that Emma was one of the best performers on her show given her time in the Spice Girls, and she was unlucky to eventually lose out in the final.
Kelly Brook – 2007
Kelly Brook was competing in the same series as Alesha Dixon, and while the latter went on to win and prove herself as one of the best dancers in the history of the show, it was Kelly who started off with the stronger performance. She delivered a stunning rumba to She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze with professional partner Brendan on her first appearance. The dance was called ‘luscious’ and ‘mouth watering’ by Bruno Tonioli, winning an impressive 33 points from the judges.
Jason Donovan – 2011
Neighbours heartthrob Jason Donovan made a stir with his cha cha cha back in series 9, whipping Strictly fans in the studio into a real frenzy back in 2011. The actor emerged as one of the early favourites and took to the floor like a natural ballroom dancer, delivering one of the most crowd-pleasing performances ever seen in Strictly week one. Judge Craig described it as a ‘rip-snorter’, while Alicia said it featured ‘everything we wanted to see in a cha cha cha’ on the way to scoring 33 points. It was testament to how good eventual winner Harry Judd of McFly was, given that he was able to eventually beat Jason in the final and win the series.
Judge Rinder – 2016
Few first dances have ever got a dancer’s personality across quite as directly as Judge Rinder’s opening appearance in Series 14. His unforgettable cha cha cha began with the judge shouting ‘order in the ballroom!’ before banging his glitter-covered gable in time to the beat of Duffy’s Mercy. Incredible stuff.
The dance didn’t earn unanimous praise from the judges and it collected 25 points, but it’s one of the best examples of a contestant throwing themselves into the competition from the very start. Judge Rinder ended the competition in fifth place and the series was won by BBC Sport presenter Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton. Still, if there’s one dance we’d ever want to watch again from the series, it’s this one.
Strictly returns Saturday at 7:25pm on BBC One.