Everything you need to know about tonight's Strictly Come Dancing
Published 23/09/2016 | 16:34
The time is nearly upon us: the 14th series of Strictly Come Dancing will begin tonight at 9pm on BBC One.
What can we expect?
There are so many contestants during this opening show that their performances have been split over two nights: half dancing on Friday and the remainder taking on the dancefloor on Saturday.
Although the couples will still be trying to impress the judges, there's no public vote this week – so no eliminations and hopefully fewer nerves in the room.
The couples have had the past three weeks to practice their first routine and get in shape since the series launched at the end of August.
Who are the contestants?
There are 15 brand new contestants taking to the floor for Strictly 2016, but the most talked about so far are Will Young, who is no stranger to televised talent contests after winning Pop Idol on the brink of the Millennium, and Ed Balls, who very much is a stranger to televised talent contests despite previously being an MP.
Other hotly tipped celebrities include Louise Redknapp and Laura Whitmore.
Who will be hosting?
Familiar favourites Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will return to host the series as usual, while Zoe Ball will present It Takes Two, the Strictly Come Dancing spin-off show, on Monday at 6.30pm on BBC Two.
What about the judges?
This year offers your last opportunity to witness Len Goodman deliver his delightful and damning verdicts to the contestants before he steps down from Strictly. He'll still be the lead judge until his swansong and is joined this year by the usual team of Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell, all of whom are staying put.
And when is Saturday's show?
Tune in to BBC One at 6.30pm on Saturday to catch up with the rest of the contestants.
What's happened so far?
We got a hint of the contestants' dancing prowess at the launch show in August, but according to resident Strictly ogler Michael Hogan Claudia Fragapane, Will Young, Louise Redknapp, Greg Rutherford, Daisy Lowe and Laura Whitmore are the ones who are within a chance of doing well.
Off stage, everybody's sharing their views on this year's most intriguing contestant, Ed Balls. Tonioli delivered the damning statement that Balls was "going to be the next Ann Widdecombe".
"I don't think the nation is ready for another one," he added. "I still haven't recovered from the first one. I think I called her the Dalek in drag. He has to top that. Ed – you have to top the Dalek in drag. I want you to be like a hippopotamus in Fantasia."
While Tonioli ruled out Balls's chance of winning ("As much as being elected prime minister"), the former MP wrote a response in The Telegraph on Friday: "Now the hippos in Fantasia are actually quite good, so if Katya can do for me what Disney did for them, our dance will be a triumph."
Balls will be dancing the waltz for his Strictly debut.