The nineteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing is set to kick off on September 18th, followed by the first live show on the 25th.
And Claudia Winkleman flashed a smile as she arrived at the Strictly Come Dancing studios to film the pre-recorded launch show on Saturday.
The presenter, 49, appeared in good spirts as she leant out of the window of her car as she prepared to join co-host Tess Daly in fronting the BBC dance show.
There she is: Claudia Winkleman flashed a smile as she arrived at the Strictly Come Dancing studios to film the pre-recorded launch show on Saturday
Claudia cut a casual figure in a grey sweater as she arrived, with the star pulling off her blue face mask to pose for a snap.
Meanwhile, outside the studio, the friends and family of the celebrity contestants queued up as they prepared to watch their loved ones take to the dance floor for the first time.
They were seen excitedly chatting as they waited in line to see the first show.
And in a bid to keep the events from the day a top secret, people were seen putting their mobile phones in sealed plastic bags, under the watchful eye of assistants.
Ready to go: The presenter, 49, appeared in good spirts as she leant out of the window of her car as she prepared to join co-host Tess Daly in fronting the BBC dance show
In a bid to ensure safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, attendees were required to wear face masks, while everyone was temperature checked before entering.
It is said that the 50 strong crowd was only made up of the friends and family of the contestants, with this year’s line-up including the likes of Katie McGlynn, Tom Fletcher and Judi Love.
The veteran dance show was famously disrupted in 2020 thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But it seems things are back to normal in 2021 – apart from one or two factors still deemed too tricky to navigate amid the global health crisis.
Exciting: Meanwhile, outside the studio, the friends and family of the celebrity contestants queued up as they prepared to watch their loved ones take to the dance floor for the first time
Can’t wait: They were seen excitedly chatting as they waited in line to see the first show
Tight security: in a bid to keep the events from the day a top secret, people were seen putting their mobile phones in sealed plastic bags, under the watchful eye of assistants
The Blackpool episode ordinarily takes place near the end of the series, but was axed last year with restrictions throwing up logistical difficulties on the production.
But 2021 will include the show’s themed weeks – such as movie week, musicals week and Halloween week.
Last year, these were scrapped, proving too complicated to manage amid the pandemic. The show’s Christmas special will also be back, with the show set to start in its usual early-autumn time slot, rather than in October, like last year.
Safety first: In a bid to ensure safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, attendees were required to be temperature checked before entering
Checks: A security guard checked the temperature of one woman as she arrived
Covered up: Everyone was made to wear face masks before making their way inside
The full 15 celebrities will be taking part again, having cut to 12 last series.
It comes as Strictly Come Dancing bosses have reportedly put a kissing ban on contestants in a bid to stop Covid causing havoc again for the new series.
Producers are said to have told this year’s stars ‘one snog and you’re out’ after last series celebs Maisie Smith and HRVY allegedly broke social distancing rules because of a brief romance.
BBC are desperate to avoid the chaos coronavirus brought last year, which saw boxer Nicola Adams and her professional dance partner Katya Jones withdraw from the competition following a positive test, and HRVY nearly not taking part.
An insider told The Sun: ‘Although the pandemic has eased since last year’s series, the BBC aren’t taking any chances.
‘This kissing ban is likely to be part of a package of measures introduced by producers to make the show as safe as possible.
Ban: Strictly bosses have reportedly put a kissing ban on contestants in a bid to stop Covid causing havoc again for the new series (pictured exes Katie McGlyyn and Giovanni Pernice)
Measures: Producers are said to have told this year’s stars ‘one snog and you’re out’ Maisie Smith and HRVY broke social distancing rules (Maisie pictured with Gorka Marquez’
‘They want to minimise the risk of any bombshells, particularly as a studio audience is being brought back into the studio this year.’
MailOnline contacted BBC for comment at the time.
Last month, professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova tested positive for coronavirus.
Ukrainian-Slovenian dancer Nadiya, 31, contracted the virus during the first week of filming, meaning many of the cast and crew had to isolate for 10 days, according to The Sun.
The Strictly insider added the Covid scare has heightened fear among bosses that other dancers and celebrities could test positive when the rehearsals start later this month.
Pandemic: Last month, the new series was thrown into chaos when professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova tested positive for coronavirus
The source said the BBC could put ‘yet more measures and precautions in place’ for the cast’s safety and to ensure the show goes ahead without a hitch.
Like last year, it is thought the couples will form bubbles to reduce the risk of Covid, with weekly tests being carried out to ensure their safety.
Last year boxer Nicola Adams’ journey was cut short after Katya Jones tested positive for Covid, while HRVY almost had to pull out of the competition at the beginning due to a positive test.
Tough: Last series Boxer Nicola Adams and her dance partner Katya Jones were forced to withdraw from the competition after Katya tested positive for coronavirus
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?
Profession: McFly musician
Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’
Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Profession: Actor and comedian
Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’
Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’
Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’
Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’
Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.
Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’
Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’
Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit
Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.
Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
Profession: TV presenter
AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’
Fun Fact: AJ has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef
John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’
Fun Fact: John is set tp be part of the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show
Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’
Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.
Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’
Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.
Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’
Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.
Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’
Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant.
Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’
Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.