Strictly Come Dancing pays tribute to NHS frontline workers

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of (left to right) Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly
For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of (left to right) Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly during the BBC1 dance contest, Strictly Come Dancing.

The first live episode of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing got under way with NHS frontline workers in the audience.

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly paid tribute before the celebrities took to the dancefloor.

“We have invited some very special people to be in our audience tonight. We are delighted to be joined by some of our incredible frontline NHS workers,” Daly said.

“Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and everything you continue to do and we really hope you enjoy tonight,” Winkleman told the NHS workers, who sat at a distance.

Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing was the first to dance live on the BBC One show, which saw judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse sat apart from each other.

Laing was invited back for a second year after having to leave the last series when he was injured.

“I’ve been waiting a whole year to do the Strictly training,” he said. “Now I’m here, I’m feeling the pressure.”

Revel Horwood called Laing’s performance “flat-footed, very tight and restricted”, and added: “That might have something to do with those lovely trousers you are wearing, don’t leave much to the imagination do they!”

Laing said afterwards he was “nearly physically sick” at the prospect of dancing first, doing the cha cha cha with Karen Hauer.

“I had to go to the bathroom, I thought I was going to throw up, I gagged a little bit but I was fine,” he said.

Actress Caroline Quentin was in tears after performing the American Smooth with her professional partner Johannes Radebe.

Ballas told her she was “graceful, charming, elegant and you have the most exquisite sense of timing… You did yourself so proud today”.

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke took to the dancefloor with top hats, performing the foxtrot.

“This is my chance to show you can have a new adventure even when you’re getting on a bit,” Smith said.

She played on her former career as a politician, with a dance which began with Smith pretending to be a candidate sitting next to a ballot box.

After spelling out his criticisms, Revel Horwood had some good news.

“When you consider Theresa May and her dancing, I think you’re 10 times better than that,” he said.

The pair were awarded a three, five, and five from the judges.

Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez wowed judges with a samba, scoring 24 points and making them top of the Strictly leaderboard so far.

They won a standing ovation from  Ballas and Mabuse, with Smith called an “absolute firecracker”.

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