Paralympics London 2012

FILE PHOTO: Kim Yuna looks at the Olympic mascot "Soohorang" during the ceremony to mark a year to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung

FILE PHOTO - The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) Honorary Ambassador Kim Yuna looks at the Olympic mascot "Soohorang" during the ceremony to mark a year to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung, South Korea February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

Double amputee marine veteran completes 31 marathons in 31 days

A US Marine veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan has successfully completed 31 marathons in 31 days. Rob Jones needed double above the knee amputations after stepping on a landmine during a push into Taliban territory in 2010.   He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2011 and the 32-year-old has since dedicated his life to raising awareness and funds for wounded veteran charities. The veteran finished his ‘month of marathons’ in Washington at the weekend having run 812 miles at events in 31 different major cities. After being fitted with prosthetics Mr Jones said he had to “work hard to learn how to walk with two bionic knees”. “I also used the [rehabilitation] time to relearn how to do other things with my new challenge including riding a bicycle, running, and rowing,” he says. “I took naturally to rowing, and since [then] I am always in search of a challenge that I can use to become better.” In 2012 he won a bronze medal in the mixed double sculls at the 2012 Paralympics in London and then rode 5,200 miles across America on his bike before taking on the marathon challenge. “I believe in setting an example for others to follow,” he says. “I am proving to America’s veterans that they are appreciated, and that they are not alone in their struggles. “I want to be an example for others to follow.  An example of a veteran, and a person who, instead of letting their personal tragedy destroy their life, they use that same tragedy to make themselves better.  To enrich their lives, and the lives of others.” You can follow Rob's Journey on Facebook. 

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford knocked out after dance-off defeat to Jonnie Peacock

Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke become seventh couple eliminated from Strictly 2017 Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse survive the dreaded dance-off Remembrance Day routine from the pros, plus music from Seal on tonight's show Remaining eight couples progress to next week's Blackpool special After last week’s controversial elimination, it was the right result this time. Here’s all the talking points and social media reaction from Sunday night’s pre-Blackpool results show…  Ruth’s exit ensured that justice was done Daytime TV doyenne Ruth Langsford has been bookies’ favourite for elimination these past few weeks, so her exit here wasn’t a huge surprise. Viewer votes have regularly lifted the likeable 57-year-old clear of the bottom two but not this time and rightly so.   Ruth finished rock bottom of the scoreboard again and it was her turn to go. She’d already seen off a far superior dancer in Aston Merrygold. Another would have sparked sofa grumbles.  She’s been warm, hard-working and whole-hearted but Ruth never looked much of a dancer. Her footwork was hesitant, her timing erratic and she often seemed hamstrung by nerves.  Her standout routines were week four's moody tango and Halloween's Bewitched-themed quickstep. She’ll also be fondly remembered for her eclectic selection of wigs, Buck Fizz-style samba outfit-ripping and that pratfall at the climax of last week’s comedy paso doble. Olé! And adios, senorita.  Ruth and Anton's last dance Bye bye Ruth, you've had a great run and some amazing hairstyles #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 Oh goodie. Ruth's had a great run - this feels like a natural exit week. And happy to see Susan/Kevin go nuts in Blackpool #scd2017#strictly— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) November 12, 2017 "Sure you can dance, @SusanCalman, but can you introduce a segment about Spaghetti Bolognese straight after consoling six victims of supermarket carpark rage?" It's all in the eyes of @EamonnHolmes. #Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/JmipFLlUhp— Pippa Evans (@IAmPippaEvans) November 12, 2017 Anton also goes - but will he bow out permanently? Ruth’s exit, of course, also meant the end of ever-popular pro Anton Du Beke’s Strictly 2017 journey. He’d formed an affectionate partnership with Ruth, leapt to her defence gallantly whenever she was criticised and was visibly moved when they bowed out. Anton would have adored a turn around the Tower Ballroom floor next weekend but frankly, he did well to get Ruth as far as week eight.  For the last few years, there’s been speculation that it could be 51-year-old Tony Beak’s swansong series. Many thought he might land a job on the judging panel but it wasn’t to be, as Shirley Ballas claimed Len Goodman’s seat instead. He’s still a hugely entertaining member of Team Strictly. Let's hope there’s life in the evergreen dancing dog yet.  Surviving couples salute Ruth and Anton Sure Anton's cheek played a part making easier to kick Ruth out #Strictly#scd— _ThatGuy_ (@_InkFreak_) November 12, 2017 Crushing Anton under a pile of pros and celebs seems an extreme way of stopping him from returning next year. #scd— ��Claire T ❄️ (@claire2281) November 12, 2017 Let’s just have a moment for the real loser tonight: Anton Du Beke’s Christmas album. #Strictly#SCD— Radical Suk (@d4nf0x) November 12, 2017 There's only one way to give @RuthieeL and @TheAntonDuBeke a proper send-off... #Strictlypic.twitter.com/dBWvF1zcfH— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 Jonnie’s competitive spirit saw him through Paralympic sprint gold medallist  Jonnie Peacock is used to performing when it matters and duly delivered in the dance-off. He took the judges’ critiques on board, improved his foxtrot second time around and got a unanimous decision in his favour.  He’s deservedly popular with viewers but needs to turn around his sudden slump in dancefloor form. Jonnie was clocking up eights and nines a few weeks ago but has recently gone backwards, tumbling into sixes and sevens territory. The sprung ballroom floor at Blackpool might suit him, especially if he's back on his blade.  Jonnie and Oti's foxtrot So glad @JonniePeacock & @OtiMabuse are through, that dance was even better second time round. I can’t deal with Jonnies sad face �� also, sorry about the voters curse. Oops #scd— Lauren Hill (@feigningreality) November 12, 2017 Jonnie seemed to enjoy himself this time around. #scd— Jackie Pearcey (@jackiepearcey) November 12, 2017 I'm blaming that awful jacket for putting Jonnie in the bottom two, I mean what even IS that #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) November 12, 2017 Remembrance Day dance captured mood perfectly Tonight’s show opened with an emotional Remembrance Day dance from the professional troupe, accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir.  Set to a special, slowed-down arrangement of The Proclaimers' 500 Miles, it told an affecting story of separated spouses, starred Kevin and Karen Clifton, and featured marching on travelators, Forties styling, red roses and poppies. A stirring and bittersweet routine. Meanwhile, servicemen and women watched on from the front row of the Elstree Studios audience. There was a heart-warming VT segment about the Strictly team doing their bit for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Red petals even fell during crooner Seal's classy guest performance.  It's the sort of thing that both the BBC and Strictly do so well. Worthy and well-judged. #LestWeForget a powerful and touching #RememberanceSunday routine from our Pros. #Strictlypic.twitter.com/uujbWkCY97— BBC Strictly✨ (@bbcstrictly) November 12, 2017 That pro dance was simply stunning. Beautiful musical arrangement, spine tingling dancing and sensitively performed. #LestWeForget#Strictly#SCD— Kirsty Boyle (@kirsty_boyle) November 12, 2017 Absolutely amazing @keviclifton@karen_hauer and th professional dancers. Showing exactly what dance is about. Emotional storytelling #StrictlyComeDancing2017— Kate Rae (@katemrae) November 12, 2017 Strictly honouring the dead, there. Nothing says respect like a travelator. #scd— W O U L D (@totallywould) November 12, 2017 Curse of the foxtrot could strike again It used to be the rumba and samba which were dubbed “the dance of death”, often leading to a celebrity’s elimination. This series, it’s the cha cha cha they’ve struggled with. Suddenly, though, it seems to be the foxtrot, which both tonight’s bottom two couples had danced - and which also spelt the end of Chizzy Akudolu earlier in the contest. It could be the slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm that’s proving problematic. It certainly did in Ruth Langsford’s case. There’s also that elusive glide, Rolls Royce action and the fact that it tends to expose fluffed footwork or topline troubles. Only three of the remaining celebs are yet to tackle the foxtrot and it happens to be some of the frontrunners: Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Davood Ghadami. Could it claim one of those scalps too? The dance-off couples await their fate Gemma and Mollie mop their brows Two female celebrities were breathing sizeable sighs of relief tonight. After finishing in the scoreboard’s bottom three, Mollie King must have thought she was doomed for her third consecutive dance-off. Her hard work and whole-hearted paso doble performance won her viewer votes, though, and she was touchingly, tearfully grateful.   Gemma Atkinson also looked at risk, having suffered a worrying slump in form this past fortnight. Both need to bring out something special in Blackpool or it could be curtains.  Mollie and AJ's paso doble Wow, Mollie finally got her bounce! #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) November 12, 2017 The others: “It’s my first time in Blackpool! I’m beyond excited!” Gemma: “Meh I’m there every other weekend”#Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) November 12, 2017 Blackpool beckons for surviving ballroom eightsome The eight remaining couples now pack their wheely suitcases and head up the M6 to Blackpool (did they mention that?) for next week’s sequin-spangled seaside spectacular from the gorgeous surroundings of Tower Ballroom. Who’ll be a dancing donkey and who’ll make a scoreboard splash? The ninth live show airs next Saturday at 6.45m on BBC One. Please join us back on the liveblog for buckets of coverage and spades of analysis. Until then, the usual applies: keeeeeep dancing!  #strictly2017 Do they know at #Strictly that #Blackpool and “up north” are not another country #NoPassportRequired— MargaretRoberts���� (@Researchdogbody) November 12, 2017 People eating them horrible round giant lollipops, seeing a tram, buying candyfloss, being blue with the cold... https://t.co/mxFE9L8yw9— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) November 12, 2017 Guess you have to be a Northerner to appreciate the unique iconic brilliance & magic of Blackpool. Nowt like it #Lancashire#Strictly#scd— Sully (@Sulsters_inc) November 12, 2017 6 more sleeps until the Blackpool backing dancers and really bad camera angles!#scd#strictly#strictlycomedancing2017— neil (@BubBobz) November 12, 2017 So the #Strictly survivors are off to Blackpool! It's just like Las Vegas You can pay for sex with chips (That's a @johnniecasson gag: don't blame me:)— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) November 12, 2017 If only they'd mentioned where they'll be next week ... #scd#Strictly2017pic.twitter.com/ZF6dWFHwE2— Charlotte Young (@charlie_l_y) November 12, 2017 8:25PM Sunday night’s action in full   Here’s your full results show recap… 8:03PM Ruth and Anton’s last dance As the eliminated couple take a final turn around the floor to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (excellent choice, you two), the other couples crowd in for a group hug-cum-bundle and viewers find something in their eye, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.  8:02PM Anton returns the compliment Ruth’s ever-popular pro partner Anton Du Beke seems a smidge emotional as he adds: “You are amazing and I love you.” Oh Anton, you soppy old thing. 8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Chic Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Servicemen and women in the studio audience Lots of uniforms in the front row. Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017, week 8, Sunday results: Ruth Langsford eliminated after dance-off defeat t o Jonnie Peacock

8:01PM Ruth says a gracious goodbye In her farewell speech, Ruth says: “I’m disappointed for Anton because he should be going to Blackpool. He’s made this whole thing so much fun. I’ve absolutely loved it: even the judges’ comments and even Craig’s. He knows I love him really! All those wonderful people up there, they all deserve to be going to Blackpool. And you Anton Du Beke, are just the most fabulous man. So funny and you are a beautiful dancer and I hope we will be friends for a very long time.” Well said. "Friends forever," says Anton. Aww.  7:59PM Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees She didn’t need to use her casting vote this week but the Queen Of Latin concurs with her colleagues, confirming that she’d have also saved Jonnie and Oti. 7:59PM Ruth Langsford is eliminated So the daytime TV presenter becomes the seventh celebrity to depart Strictly 2017, following in the two-left-footsteps of Chizzy Akudolu, Reverend Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and (gasp) Aston Merrygold. The right result, I think. 7:59PM Bruno Tonioli chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “They improved, the dance was cleaner and more emotionally involving.” 7:58PM Darcey Bussell chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “On the basis of difficulty and making no mistakes.” 7:58PM Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save… Jonnie and Oti, saying: “He took our notes and criticisms on-board, improved in the dance-off and delivered the better dance.” 7:57PM Decision time Both showed mild improvement from Saturday night, I thought. Jonnie more than Ruth. Now it’s time for the panel’s decisions. Hold tight, people.  7:57PM Jonnie goes next Jonnie Peacockand Oti Mabuse have another pop at their foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. It scored 21 points last night, three more than Ruth. Soft, romantic mood and lovely spins. The judges wanted him to work on his topline, hand shaping, balance and facial expression. He seems to be trying to do just that.  7:54PM Ruth goes first in dance-off Ruth Langsfordand Anton Du Beke reprise their foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin. It scored 18 points last night and doesn’t look much better second time around. Hat and canes to start, then horsey trotting while her frame and footwork falter. Still looks more like a quickstep. Surely, barring dis-ah-sters for Jonnie Peacock, she’s doomed? 7:52PM Don't mention the B-word Oh, go on then. Mention Blackpool endlessly. There's no point fighting it.  7:49PM Bruno not very nice Bruno Tonioli giggles when asked for advice, as if Ruth has gone already. No need.  7:48PM Ruth Langsford joins Jonnie in dance-off  TV presenter Ruth Langsford and her professional partner Anton Du Beke are consigned to the dreaded dance-off. Justice has been done, as they were rock bottom of the scoreboard. But can they miraculously escape? It’ll be a battle of the foxtrots. A trot-off, if you will.  7:47PM Who'll face Jonnie in the dance-off? Time to find out. Not Alexandra Burke. And not Debbie McGee either. Nor Gemma Atkinson. Which means it's Susan Calman or Ruth Langsford.  7:45PM Devil's in the details Shirley Ballas praises Joe McFadden's rumba. Darcey Bussell extols the virtues of Davood Ghadami's charleston. Craig Revel Horwood expands on his description of Alexandra Burke's Argentine tango as "in-cred-ible". Bruno Tonioli coos over Debbie McGee's salsa lifts. Everyone coos about Blackpool. 7:42PM Dance debrief Time for the regular feature formerly known as Len’s Lens. RIP. Totally should be called Bruno’s Binos. 7:41PM Anton and Nadiya waltz along Choreographic accompaniment comes from Anton Du Beke and Nadiya Bychkova. Red petals fall.  7:40PM Seal is the musical guest Musical interlude now from singer-songwriter and all-round dude Seal  - real name Henry Samuel, fact fans.  He’s crooning Autumn Leaves from his new album of standards called, handily, Standards. 7:38PM Strictly helps with Poppy Appeal A sweet VT on-screen now, as the judges, pros and celebs help sell poppies for the Royal British Legion at train stations. A worthy cause. Well done.  7:37PM Mollie's tears of gratitude Mollie King is weepy with relief up in the Clauditorium. Aww. I'm glad she's safely through.  7:34PM Jonnie Peacock in dance-off for first time Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock and his pro partner Oti Mabuse are in the dance-off.  He finished second bottom last night, so no huge surprise. But who will he face?  7:33PM Who’ll be our first dance-offers? Time for the dreaded red light of doom. Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden are safely through to Blackpool, as is Mollie King. Wow. No third dance-off for her.  7:28PM Saturday night’s show recapped Last night’s action gets a rewind. Susan’s tearful tango! Joe’s jolty rumba! Ruth’s gallopy foxtrot! Davood’s cheeky Cockney charleston! Gemma’s salsa shoe malfunction! Alexandra’s tricksy Argentine tango! Mollie’s patchy paso! Jonnie’s saulty foxtrot! Debbie’s saucy salsa! 7:27PM Frockwatch Here come our co-hosts, so time for our regular fashion face-off. Claudia Winkleman’s in a black satin skirt with simple top. Tess Daly’s in asymmetric gown with one drapey shoulder. Claudia wins, as she usually does. Meanwhile on the judgely panel, Darcey Bussell's in a lovely, lacy teal knee-length affair and Shirley Ballas is in retro monochrome.  7:24PM Service people in the studio audience Fittingly, there’s a Forties feel to the dance, with dancer Karen Clifton playing a wife waiting for her husband (played by her real-life spouse Kevin) to come back from the war - then dancing with him in her imagination.  The male pros are marching on travelators. Then the men disappear and the women are left with red roses and poppies. Stirring, bittersweet, emotional stuff. Bravo all round.  7:23PM Remembrance routine opens show We begin with a special Remembrance Day performance from the Strictly professional troupe, set to a slowed-down arrangement of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Dave Arch's band are accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir - the Royal Air Force’s only choir, comprising regular and reserve personnel, MOD civil servants and veterans.  7:21PM And we're off! Roll clapalong credits. One of these couples will be missing the Blackpool bus. But who? Who, I ask you? 7:18PM Credits roll on Countryfile It's goodbye from fleece-clad John Craven on BBC One now, which means we're about to go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom. Quick, there's still time for some gentle stretching exercises and another coat of fake tan... 7:14PM Tonight's musical guest is a Killer one Yes, it's singer-songwriter Seal, who had a 1991 hit with Killer. See what I did there? Suit yourselves. Five minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune... 7:10PM Strictly marks Remembrance Sunday There's a special Remembrance Day group routine tonight, with the pro dancers accompanied by the RAF Spitfires Choir. It should capture the national mood perfectly. Ten minutes to Strictly o'clock... 7:05PM Will Mollie be saying good golly? Popstrel Mollie King and her pro partner AJ Pritchard have been in the dreaded dance-off for the past two weeks. They finished third bottom on last night's scoreboard. Will they be dnacing for survival yet again or will viewer votes save them this time? Fifteen minutes until showtime... 6:59PM Who’ll be missing the glittery bus to Blackpool?  Tonight sees the seventh elimination of Strictly 2017, as our nine remaining pro-celebrity pairs discover whether they’re through to next week’s seaside special or doomed to face the dreaded dance-off. On Saturday night, Davood Ghadami’s chirpy Cockney charleston and Alexandra Burke’s kicky, flicky Argentine tango (the first of the series) were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Recent pace-setter and Telegraph diarist Debbie McGee was in third place after her spicy salsa.  At the foot of the scoreboard was the bookies’ favourite to go, Ruth Langsford - with Jonnie Peacock and Mollie King just above.  Scores will be combined with the public vote tonight and the bottom two couples will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, the likes of Gemma Atkinson and Susan Calman could also come into choreographic contention.  The results show airs at 7.20pm on BBC One. I'm Michael, the Telegraph's swishy skirts and unbuttoned shirts correspondent, and I'll be liveblogging from 7pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis and facetious remarks, so do join me and watch along with this blog. And please join in too - you can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.  Nearly time to staaaaart breaking Blackpool hearts!

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

Strictly odds: who will win and who will be this year's Ed Balls?

We got a first gawp at the Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2017 during Saturday night’s red carpet launch show. Some showed hoofing promise. Others, well, not so much. Now that all 15 famous - in the loosest sense of the word - faces have been paired with their pros and taken their first tentative steps onto the ballroom floor, we predict the title contenders, surprise packages, rank outsiders and comedy contestants. Altogether now: oppa Ed Balls style! The glitterball contenders Aston Merrygold Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Bookies’ early favourite is the 29-year-old former frontman of boyband JLS. Not only is Merrygold known for his back-flips (expect to see those on the ballroom floor) but he was a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance - hence rumblings about him being a ringer. His JLS bandmate JB Gill won the Strictly Christmas special, so Merrygold will want to go one better. If so, he’d become the third consecutive male champion. Forming a “pocket rocket” partnership with Janette Manrara, Aston looked comfortable among the pros during the Footloose group routine. But is he a tad too good? The public like to see progression and improvement, after all. Odds: 11/4 Alexandra Burke Credit:  Ray Burmiston R&B diva Burke won the 2008 series of Strictly’s arch rival The X Factor - beating JLS (them again) into second place. As with Merrygold, there are grumbles about the 28-year-old having too much dance pedigree. She was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, before starring in West End musicals The Bodyguard and Sister Act - the latter directed and choreographed by a certain Craig Revel Horwood. Hmm. A possible finalist but probably not likeable enough to win, despite being paired with loveable Spanish pro Gorka “The Corka” Marquez. Odds: 5/1 Mollie King Credit: Getty The first member of this year’s Strictly line-up to be unveiled was 30-year-old King, an alumnus of girl group The Saturdays. She was a champion skier in her teens, so possesses competitive grit. Bandmate Frankie Bridge finished runner-up three years ago, so King will be keen to continue that success. Strictly’s male pros were jostling to land the leggy blonde as their partner and it was AJ Pritchard who got her, forming a toothy all-blond dream team who could go far. Odds: 4/1 Jonnie Peacock Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA Paralympic sprinter Peacock is the first ever contestant with a disability to appear on the main show. The 24-year-old is a below-the-knee amputee due to childhood meningitis, so will have obvious physical challenges to overcome - but that’s proved little obstacle in his gold medal-garlanded, MBE-earning athletics career. He’s also been paired with popular South African pro Oti Mabuse, who got to the final last year. Their Strictly story is bound to be an inspiring one - enough to propel them all the way? Odds: 9/1 Gemma Atkinson  Credit: Getty The actress - who has done the soapy rounds of Hollyoaks, Casualty and Emmerdale - is a former lingerie model and lads’ mag pin-up. The 32-year-old Mancunian has hired a full-time personal trainer, embarked on a 12-week fitness regime and given up alcohol ahead of the show. She’s taking it seriously and has a terrific partner in smiley Slovenian Aljaž Škorjanec, who’ll fancy repeating his 2013 win with Abbey Clancey. Gemma looked one of the most impressive celebrities during the group number, so hopes are high.  Odds: 6/1 The comedy contestants Susan Calman Credit: Ray Burmiston/PA The dry-witted Scottish comic and Radio 4 favourite describes herself as “an enthusiastic home dancer” and has vowed to bring the entertainment factor. The 42-year-old former lawyer stands just 4ft 11in and recently tweeted: “I haven't worn heels or a dress since I was 17. Haven't danced with a man in over a decade. Strictly, I'm ready.” She’s a superfan of pro dancer Kevin Clifton (from Grimsby™) and thankfully, was partnered with him. Cue heart-melting tears of happiness. He’ll look after her and they should be excellent value - although Kev’s unlikely to extend his record of reaching the final in all his four years on the show.  Odds: 80/1 Chizzy Akudolu  Credit: getty The 43-year-old actress is best-known for playing heart surgeon Mo Effanga in Holby City but was also a fanatical disco dancer in her teens - and judging by her full-on Footloose performance, hasn’t forgotten the moves. The accomplished comedienne came second in Let’s Sing & Dance For Comic Relief and has been partnered with Siberian sweetheart Pasha Kovalev, forming a highly likeable pairing. He’s a good teacher. She’s fitter and more confident than she might look. The fun factor might just win her new fans.  Odds: 50/1 Reverend Richard Coles Credit:  Guy Levy As the man himself says: “Cometh the hour, cometh the overweight vicar with arthritic knees.” Already a crowd favourite, the pop star-turned-priest had a huge hit with The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way, so don’t be surprised to see Coles cha-cha-ing to that chart-topper come late September. Paired with new Aussie pro Dianne Buswell, the 55-year-old panel show regular should be hilarious - and certainly looked game for a laugh during the group dance, when he sprawled on the judges’ table and busted out Jeremy Vine-esque disco moves. The Strictly wardrobe department are doubtless sewing sequins onto clerical collars as we speak.  Odds: 33/1  The surprise packages Debbie McGee Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA The recent widow and former assistant of magician Paul Daniels will be following in the footsteps of her late husband, who was eliminated second from the 2010 contest. ThelovelyDebbieMcGee™ should fare better, since she’s a former ballerina who became artistic director of her own ballet company - although she insists she hasn’t danced for three decades. The 58-year-old will attract the expert eye of judge Darcey Bussell and, paired with Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice, could surprise a few people. Now that’s magic. Odds: 16/1 Davood Ghadami  Credit: Guy Levy The 35-year-old Brit-Iranian actor, who plays Walford market’s resident ladies’ man Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is quite the muscle-bound beefcake. Expect him to be ripping his shirt off, in the noble lineage of Steve Backshall, Rav Wilding, Judge Rinder, plus various soap hunks and rugby players from Strictlys of yore. He’s been partnered with new Ukrainian pro (and former Playboy Playmate) Nadiya Bychkova and there are already rumours of potential “curse of Strictly” showmance. From the group number, Ghadami looked more of a partner-lifter and pose-striker than a mover, but it’s early days.  Odds: 9/1 Joe McFadden  Credit: PA The Glaswegian actor is best-known for playing surgeon Raf di Lucca in Holby City, PC Joe Mason in Heartbeat and the lead role in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks novel The Crow Road. The 41-year-old housewives’ favourite has also appeared in West End musicals, so is accustomed to jazzhand-waving. He’s paired with Katya Jones, who partner Ed Balls last year. McFadden looked quietly proficient during the group danced so should be an upgrade, in hoofing ability if not headline-grabbing.  Odds: 16/1 Ruth Langsford The 57-year-old, who presents daytime shows Loose Women and This Morning, is a self-confessed dance novice. She’s warmly likeable but will that be enough? Being paired with the much-loved Anton du Beke - who always gets landed with the more mature ladies - should keep her in for a few weeks at least.  Odds: 40/1 The first-out fodder Brian Conley Credit: Guy levy It’s a puppet! The 56-year-old comedian and panto stalwart has stage school and West End experience but insists he isn’t much of a dancer. Will Strictly viewers warm to him hamming it up and mugging to camera? Middle-aged men are often sent home first, after all. Might just be helped by being paired with new arrival Amy Dowden - the contest’s first ever Welsh pro, which could get them patriotic votes from the Valleys.  Odds: 25/1 Charlotte Hawkins  Credit:  Ray Burmiston/PA In the TV tradition of Angela Rippon on Morecambe & Wise, newsreader Hawkins will be stepping out from behind her desk to hit the dancefloor. The sporty 42-year-old follows her Good Morning Britain colleagues Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway into the Strictly tanning booths. Will she be a finalist like the former or a flop like the latter? Judging by her stiff, mistake-ridden performance in the launch show’s group dance, it looks more Garraway-shaped. Expect scowling from her partner Brendan Cole when the judges raise their scoring paddles.  Odds: 25/1  Simon Rimmer Credit: PA Omens aren’t promising for the 54-year-old Scouse chef and Sunday Brunch presenter. TV foodie types don’t have a great track record in the ballroom: Gregg Wallace was first out three years ago, Gary Rhodes was third out and Ainsley Harriott fourth out. Strictly senorita Karen Clifton will do her best to cover his faults but Rimmer has the distinct whiff of dad-dancer. Odds: 66/1 Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday September 23

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