THE battle for Saturday night ratings has officially begun again – with the 11th series of Strictly Come Dancing now under way.
Fifteen new stars found out who their professional dance partners were last night at a red carpet launch of the popular BBC One show.
Hollyoaks actor Ashley Taylor Dawson stole the show when he failed to contain his excitement when he was matched with Polish dancer Ola Jordan.
Ola’s husband James Jordan – also a dancer on the show – has been teamed up with broadcaster Vanessa Feltz and she too was pleased with the choice.
Anton du Beke, known for his comic pairings after dancing with Nancy Dell’Olio and Ann Widdecombe in the past, is with former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton this time. Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor is paired with Brendan Cole and Countdown maths whizz Rachel Riley will be dancing with Pasha Kovalev who has made it to the finals on each of the two series in which he has appeared.
Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden is paired with Robin Windsor; model Abbey Clancy will strut her stuff with newcomer Aljaz Skorjanec; and BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid is with Kevin Clifton.
Coronation Street actress Natalie Gumede is with tough taskmaster Artem Chigvintsev, while designer Julien Macdonald is paired with Janette Manrara, Casualty actor Patrick Robinson is to dance with Anya Garnis and Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers is teamed up with Karen Hauer.
The 2011 winner Aliona Vilani, who had been dropped from this series but recalled when Natalie Lowe was injured, is to dance with golfer Tony Jacklin.
The line-up is completed by former rugby star Ben Cohen dancing with Kristina Rihanoff and actor Mark Benton performing with Iveta Lukosiute.
Veteran rocker Rod Stewart helped launch the new show alongside pop star Jessie J.