TV preview: Strictly Come Dancing

The class of 2014 try out their dancing feet.
The class of 2014 try out their dancing feet.
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A couple of weeks ago, we got our first proper glimpse of the Strictly class of 2014 during the red-carpet launch show - and on the whole, it went pretty well.

If any of the professional dancers were disappointed with their matches, they hid it well (Iveta Lukosiute in particular seemed very happy to have landed former rugby player Thom Evans).

But as the competition launches in earnest this weekend, it’s going to get a lot harder. Instead of being able to hide at the back during a group number, six of the couples will be taking to the floor tonight, with the rest competing on Saturday.

And this time, judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell will be scoring them.

It’s going to be a whole new experience for MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace, who is used to being the one dishing out the criticism.

He says: “The judges scare me because you are working really hard and they are the experts and they are there to scrutinise everything you do. It is in their professional interest to critique you properly and that is scary. If they don’t pick up on something you do wrong then they lose credibility.

Meanwhile, DJ Scott Mills admits he has probably already given at least one judge a reason not to go easy on him. “I met Craig yesterday for the first time. He was on my show and we soaked him with water. So that’s probably not going to do me any favours particularly!”

Luckily, Scott adds: “He was very encouraging and nice and told me I have to just do my best. I found him surprisingly pleasant!”

Presenter Caroline Flack says: “Ever since I was a presenter on CBBC and used to see the Strictly judges walking around Television Centre I have wanted to be on the show... and this year the time was right.”

But will she still feel that way ahead of this weekend’s shows? If she’s nervous, she’s probably in good company, as fellow contestants (deep breath) Pixie Lott, Jake Wood, Frankie Bridge, Simon Webbe, Alison Hammond, Steve Backshall, Sunetra Sarker, Mark Wright, Jennifer Gibney, Judy Murray and Tim Wonnacott are no doubt feeling the pressure too.

At least they’ve got presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman to put them at ease - and the knowledge that the harshest judges of all, the viewing public, don’t get to vote until next week.

Strictly Come Dancing, Saturday, 9pm, BBC1

Pictured, Sagar Radia as Aj Nair, James Floyd as Dr Gabriel Varma, Nimmi Harasgama as Nurse Mari Rodriguez, Darshan Jariwalla as Dr Ram Nair, Amrita Acharia as Dr Ruby Walker, Amanda Redman as Dr Lydia Fonseca, Neil Morrissey as Greg Mcconnell and Philip Jackson as Paul Smart.

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