Strictly Come Dancing: our new weekly reviewer, the celebrity line-up and the low-down on the show
PUBLISHED: 17:33 31 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:33 31 August 2018
Dust off your dancing shoes, Strictly Come Dancing is waltzing back onto BBC One for its 16th series: meet our new Strictly reviewer, find out whether he can dance, how we can follow his live commentary of the show and what his new Strictly nickname will be.
Ahead of the glittering launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2018, we meet Jake Foxford who will be reviewing the series and giving his thoughts on the sparkling stars competing for the coveted Glitterball trophy every week.
With 15 celebrities preparing to sizzle in sequins, there’s the usual mix of TV stars, athletes, pop stars and a YouTube star that no one under the age of 25 will recognise lining up to strut their stuff on the dancefloor.
Contestants are presenter Katie Piper, Steps Star Faye Tozer, Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules, YouTube star Joe Sugg, Capital Breakfast presenter Vick Hope, cricket veteran Graeme Swann, This Morning’s Dr Ranj Singh, presenter Stacey Dooley, Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, comedian Seann Walsh, BBC News presenter Kate Silverton, Blue singer Lee Ryan, Paralympian Lauren Steadman, What Not to Wear host Susannah Constantine and Casualty’s Charles Venn.
Three new professional dancers are joining the show for the 2018 series with the BBC revealing that newcomers Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe and Luba Mushtuk will all be making their way to the dance floor, as part of the biggest cast of professionals yet.
Making up an 18-strong line-up, regular faces AJ Pritchard, Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Janette Manrara, Karen Clifton, Katya Jones, Kevin Clifton, Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Oti Mabuse and Pasha Kovalev will all be taking to the floor again, although fan favourite Brendan Cole won’t be returning.
Judges Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballass are back in the judging box to offer their constructive criticism (mostly) and their scores.
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be rolling out the red carpet to welcome the star-studded celebrity class of 2018 as they begin their Strictly adventure in Strictly Come Dancing: The Launch on September 8 at 7.35pm.
The 15 celebrity contestants will make their grand entrance into the famous Strictly ballroom and discover which professional dancer they will be paired with - once the pairings have been announced the celebrities and professionals will take to the dancefloor for the very first time for a spectacular group performance.
The show will open with a spectacular red carpet event as the Strictly family dance to a medley of Nile Rodgers’ greatest hits performed by Chic and the man himself. Later in the show Craig David and Stefflon Don will join Nile and Chic to perform their new single. Meanwhile, let’s meet Jake and find out why he’s stepped up to be our in-house Strictly reviewing star.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m Jake, one of the reporters at the Evening Star and East Anglian Daily Times, a self-confessed Strictly fan and professional armchair critic. When the days get colder and the nights get longer, there’s nothing like a televised amateur dancing competition to warm my heart!
Favourite series of Strictly? For a long time it was series five which had Kate Garraway, Gabby Logan and people’s champion Willie Thorne, but Series 14 in 2016 series was just amazing. It gets talked about a lot in Strictly circles, but Ore Oduba’s Jive was incredible, getting someone who had been dancing for five weeks to perform at that level was staggering.
Favourite professional dancer: There are so many great ones but I’m a big fan of Katya Jones. Katya and Oti Mabuse are brilliant at choreographing spectacular lifts but Katya is also a chameleon, she’s often unrecognisable on a Saturday night in those elaborate costumes – how she dances in those is beyond me!
Who is your favourite contestant of all time? It’s Danny Mac, I thought he was brilliant in 2016, he and Oti’s American Smooth to ‘Misty Blue’ is such a great dance and I recommend you all go away and watch it. I definitely did not well up when I watched it.
Which is your favourite dance? It’s got to be the Charleston. There’s loads of energy and usually a great costume, something themed around the Roaring 20s. It turns the studio into a speakeasy and the dancers can perform it from the first week, so you can really see the improvement that they make as the show goes on.
What are you looking forward to most from the new series of Strictly? I am a sucker for the lifts, the big and dramatic lifts. If a dancer isn’t airborne at some point then they have missed an opportunity. If someone tries something daring during Movie Week this year, that will be spectacular.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing dance from the new celebrity line-up? A lot of the celebrities this year look really promising, but I think Stacey Dooley and Danny John-Jules will have some great moves and throw themselves into the spirit of Strictly. I hope they both make it to the final.
Can you dance? I have friends and colleagues that will confirm I will dance, whether I ‘can’ is up to them!
Who is your early prediction as the winner of SCD 2018? I think Kate Silverton could be a great dancer and a dark horse, ready to follow in the footsteps of Natasha Kaplinsky all those years ago.
Any chance we can rename you ‘Jake Foxtrot’ for the duration of SCD 2018? Oh my goodness gracious yes.
Do you live tweet during the show? If so, how can I follow you? You can follow me each week @jjfoxford to get instant reactions on every dance, every score, and all the tension between the judges. I’m firm and fair and will support any celebrity willing to be thrown into the air with reckless abandon.
Why do you love Strictly and why should we love it too? I love Strictly because it’s proud to be glamorous and camp without any pretence. It makes the 15 celebrities relatable when they’re put through their paces and you realise they’re just as good or bad a dancer as we are. Plus, it’s really fun – it’s the best Saturday night TV of the year and you get a nation talking about it on Monday morning, it brings people together!
* Jake’s reviews will appear weekly.