For those of you who’ve had the will power not to look up the leaked pairings, Strictly Come Dancing’s launch show was our first chance to get an idea of who the winning couple in 2019 could be.
It’s been slated for having one of the poorest star factors of any celeb line-up in the show’s history, but the class of 2019 at least featured some unpredictable matches.
Who?...— Bill Holland 🏴 (@BillHolland84) September 7, 2019
For once, Strictly stalwart Anton Du Beke has been given the chance to stay in the competition at least until the end of the first month, while Kevin Clifton’s pairing left more than a few viewers scratching their heads.
On the subject of the reigning champion, we also got to see him return to the dancefloor with his 2018 celeb partner - and now, partner in the other sense - Stacey Dooley.
Read more: Jamie Laing pulls out of Strictly
Gonna be honest my favourite dance of Stacey and Kevin’s was the minion jive 😂🤣 #StrictlyComeDancing— ashley 🐝 (@ashleylynda_) September 7, 2019
We didn’t get to see the infamous Craig Revel Horwood jibe about their relationship that has been causing all kinds of trouble this week, as it had been cut from the edit. Spoilsports!
The other headline from the launch show was that it was to feature Jamie Laing’s one and only appearance, as he damaged his foot so badly in the group dance that he’s had to drop out.
We’re genuinely sad not to see Jamie taking part, as his boundless enthusiasm would have definitely added to the show.
I can’t believe how gutted I am that Jamie Laing is not going to be in Strictly. He was already the best TV tonight and Oti is my favourite pro 😭 #StrictlyComeDancing— Lauren Weller (@laurenweller) September 7, 2019
It was also the debut of Motsi Mabuse, Oti’s older sister, who has taken over Dame Darcey Bussell’s seat on the judging panel.
The series opened in the most Strictly-fied way possible, with Kylie Minogue emerging from behind a glitterball to sing a medley of her greatest hits.
But let’s get down to the news everyone wants to hear...
Who was matched with who?
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
Although Johannes joined the Strictly pros cast last year, this is his first time to be matched with a celeb, so we don’t know what to expect yet from his routines and training style.
Ex-Corrie star Catherine is thrilled with her partner, and we’re looking forward to seeing a new pro in the main cast.
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard
In a year that was supposed to be full of unpredictable pairings, we’re a little disappointed at the predictability of this match.
Will AJ ever be old enough not to automatically get the youth pairing? Will Strictly fans ever stop asking who Saffron is? Time will tell...
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
Ooh, this is a good pairing. We’re expecting Michelle to bring the most attitude to the ballroom of any contestant this year, and we loved her comment to her doubting daughters - “look at Mommy now!”.
Giovanni has a brilliant sense of fun in his routines (remember last year’s lonely goatherd?) and has reached the final two years in a row, with Faye Tozer and Debbie McGee.
Alex Scott and Neil Jones
This one was definitely a pairing we were expecting to see, because in terms of build Alex and Neil are perfectly matched.
We’re so excited for Neil that he’s finally bagged a spot in the main cast and with footballer Alex tipped to be one of this year’s stars, hopefully he can prove he should have been playing up front all along.
Called it right on day 1 last year. This year I'm calling Alex and Neil. #StrictlyComeDancing— Jess Phillips Esq., M.P. (@jessphillips) September 7, 2019
James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk
Like Johannes, Luba joined the show last year, but this is her first time being promoted to getting a celeb.
Of course, as a former Olympian James is super competitive, so we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see these two go far.
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
After last year’s rumours surrounding an apparent fall-out with her dance partner Danny John-Jules (strenuously denied), Amy must be hoping for no drama and lots of fun this year.
Luckily, she seems to have got just that by being matched with kids’ TV presenter Karim - she looked as relieved as she did happy.
Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer
Comedian Chris is already one of our favourite celebs this year, and we’re so glad Karen has been given someone fun to work with.
She did brilliantly with Charles Venn last year but got a really hard time from voters, so hopefully this year will be a little more lighthearted.
We’re also loving her new look, featuring the ultimate “Kevin who?” haircut.
Karen is looking 🔥 her hair looks fab #StrictlyComeDancing— sarah (@sarahcrunch74) September 7, 2019
David James and Nadiya Bychkova
Again, based on stature alone we were expecting these two to be put together - nobody else is tall enough to be able to dance with them.
But never mind the pairing - can you believe David is a GRANDAD?
Emma Barton and Anton Du Beke
This is the happiest Anton’s looked on launch night in years, because he’s been given the rare chance of progressing past the first vote with Emma.
The Strictly veteran summed it up best in his own words: “Is this what it feels like? Book me in til Christmas.”
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skorjanec
With just two male dancers left to choose from, we would have put good money on Emma being matched with Kevin...but things went a bit left field when she got Aljaz instead.
It looks like a perfectly fine pairing, but left us with one last couple who had viewers shouting “what?”.
Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton
TV legend Anneka has declared herself dance phobic and reckons no one in her family has ever even seen her dance, so it seems pretty unlikely Kevin will be repeating his success from last year.
We know by now that the previous winner often gets a rhythmically challenged celeb the next year, but with Kevin a good bit shorter than Anneka, it all feels like a bit of a “who was left” situation.
Giving Anton Emma Barton and Kevin Anneka Rice are the most unpredictable pairings ever. I'm already loving #StrictlyComeDancing— Lisa Briscoe (@littlemisslisad) September 7, 2019
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
Obviously, Katya has a great sense of fun in Strictly - after all, she managed to make Ed Balls one of the most loved contestants of his series.
Mike is incredibly excited to be in the cast this year, and we can actually see this pairing working really well.
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara
Although we didn’t know too much about Will before the series, he definitely seems like one of the most energetic of the group as well as one of the biggest personalities.
There was nothing showbiz fake about his excitement at being matched with Janette, so we’re looking forward to seeing what these two bring us each week.
Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell
Here’s another pair we’re excited to see in action when the live shows start.
After getting a brief glimpse of Dev’s dancing skills in the group performance, we don’t buy that he’s anywhere near as uncoordinated as he claims, and Dianne’s routines are always fresh and innovative.
Jamie Laing and Oti Mabuse
He may not be taking to the #Strictly dancefloor due to an injury, but here's the moment @JamieLaing_UK was paired with Pro @OtiMabuse. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Jamie! pic.twitter.com/E4AXqRDuvS— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) September 7, 2019
Absolutely gutted for Jamie and Oti - this looked like it could have been one of our favourite couples of the series.
Of course, we now know that they’re definitely out after an injury that Jamie picked up during the group dance, when he says he felt a popping sensation in one foot, and he certainly looked awkward on it for the rest of the routine.
Not only was Jamie guaranteed to bring a lot of fun and energy to the dancefloor, fans were also looking forward to seeing the dynamic between Oti and her sister Motsi in judging.
Sadly, it’s not to be this time, and Strictly 2019 is the poorer for it.
Here’s the first and only time we’ll see Jamie dance in the ballroom - enjoy his brief moment of dance fame.
Big news on the judging panel this year was that Motsi Mabuse would be replacing Dame Darcey Bussell, who’d decided to bow out after seven years on the show.
It already looks like Motsi and head judge Shirley Ballas have a great bond, which is obviously super important for the live shows.
Motsi and Shirley were joined by fellow judges Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood to perform their own routine midway through the episode, with most of them showing off exactly why they’re so revered in the world of dance.
Although Motsi is now retired from performing, her amazing skills are still clear to see as she took a starring role in the performance.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for Craig, who seemed to struggle a bit with his moves - surely a delicious moment for all of the hapless celebs he’s critiqued over the years.
I don’t think Craig has the right to judge anyone’s dancing 😂 #StrictlyComeDancing— Beth (@beth___h) September 7, 2019
Strictly Come Dancing will be back on Saturday, September 21 on BBC One.