Star-studded line-up dazzles as Birmingham kick-starts Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour
Fan-favourites from popular BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing sashayed their way on to the dance floor in Birmingham today, to kick off the eagerly-anticipated live tour.
Stars of the recent series including finalists and reigning champions are bringing the magic of the television format to a live audience as they launch the extravaganza at Arena Birmingham tomorrow, lasting from the 16th to the 19th January, before heading off to tour the nation.
WATCH: Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour launches in Birmingham:
In the show, celebrity contestants and professional partners come together to form a dance extravaganza. Featuring couples’ dances and group dances, Strictly Come Dancing 2018 winner Stacey Dooley will take over from Ore Oduba to present this year’s show.
With some shifting of dance-duos, the tour includes: Saffron Barker & AJ Pritchard; Mike Bushell & Katya Jones; Alex Scott and Neil Jones; Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe; finalists Emma Barton & Graziano Di Prima and Karim Zeroual & Amy Dowden; and, of course, winner Kelvin Fletcher with his new partner Janette Manrara.
Famous faces from the judging panel – Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli – will all be in attendance for the 33 scintillating shows.
It doesn’t end there – professional dancers Luba Mushtuk, Karen Hauer, Dianne Buswell, Joshua Keefe, Jake Leigh and Robbie Kmetoni will complete the supersized spectacle. Plus, you guessed it, Dave Arch and the gang will be back to provide orchestral music and live music for the tour. Showcasing all the amazing choreography that Strictly is known for, the must-see event includes numbers from both Latin and Ballroom dancing.
Winner Kelvin Fletcher is most known for his 20-year tenure on popular ITV soap Emmerdale, and samba’d his way to the Glitterball trophy last month.
On her swapping with Oti Mabuse, Jennette Manrara joked that there was “No pressure!”
Speaking to I Am Birmingham about whether being apart from Oti was bittersweet, Kelvin Fletcher said: “There is that, but I’m just so excited to be dancing with Janette and being back with everyone again. It’s amazing.”
Stacey Dooley has swapped investigative journalism for the time being to host the event, after winning the 2018 series and herself performing in the live tour last year, including dates in Birmingham.
“It feels great. It’s a real treat actually. Hosting this year will be completely brilliant, so I feel very lucky.”
Stacey has been a very busy woman these recent years, having filmed hard-hitting documentaries for her Stacey Dooley: Investigates series.
Runner-up Karim Zeroual gave Kelvin plenty of competition after scoring tens all through the series, and became an early favourite to win.
The 26-year-old Strictly contestant is known for reporting from CBBC HQ and has also performed in West End Shows such as The Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
When asked if he’d been missing dancing every Saturday night, he responded, “Having the tour to look forward to did really help!”
Fellow runner-up Emma Barton was partnered with fan-favourite professional dancer, often dubbed ‘The King of Ballroom’, Anton Du Beke – however, for the Live Tour, she’s swapping British treasure with Italian spice Graziano Di Prima.
“I just feel that I’m very very lucky. To dance with Anton and now Graziano… I’m the envy of men and women in the country!”
Emma is most recognised for her popular role on Eastenders as Honey Mitchell, a role she has played on and off for 13 years.
Joining the ensemble is Corrie actress Catherine Tyldesley, who was beyond ecstatic to be paired again with Johannes. Like many at home, Catherine also felt they had longer left.
“We can’t wait, we felt like we had more in us. We didn’t want to go when we did, but the chance to dance again with Johannas is the greatest gift.”
YouTube sensation Saffron Barker returns with AJ Pritchard, who also had an earlier departure than originally expected.
Saffron has over 1.4m followers on Instagram and over 2m subscribers on YouTube, where some of her videos have hit nearly 10 million views.
When asked Saffron how it felt adjusting from the YouTube to mainstream television, she told I Am Birmingham: “I think it was obviously very different at first. I wasn’t used to not editing the videos myself! But if AJ bailed on me for the tour I don’t know what I’d do!”
Alex Scott and Neil Jones are also returning and are raring to get going. I spoke to Alex about claims that athletes have an advantage in the competition due to their level of fitness.
“It’s actually harder for athletes because we’re so built it actually makes it harder to move like a dancer.”
Alex is hugely successful, having played for Arsenal in the women’s team and even represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.
Opening at the Arena Birmingham on 16th January, the Strictly Come Dancing UK Arena Tour will visit Aberdeen’s P&J Live Arena, Leeds’ First Direct Arena, the Manchester Arena, Dublin’s 3Arena, The SSE Arena in Belfastm The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena and culminates at London’s O2 Arena on 9th February.
Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour UK dates 2020:
16-19 January / Arena Birmingham
(Thursday 16th at 7:30pm; Friday 17th at 7:30pm; Saturday 18th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 19th at 1:30pm & 6:30pm)
21-22 January / Aberdeen P&J Live Arena
(Tuesday 21st at 7:30pm; Wednesday 22nd at 2:30pm & 7:30pm)
24 January / Leeds First Direct Arena / 0844 248 1585
(Friday 24th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm)
25-26 January / Manchester Arena
(Saturday 25th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 26th at 1:30pm & 6:30pm)
28 January / Dublin 3Arena
(Tuesday 28th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm)
29-30 January / Belfast SSE Arena
(Wednesday 29th at 7:30pm; Thursday 30th at 2:00pm & 7:30pm)
1-2 February / Glasgow The SSE Hydro
(Saturday 1st at 2:30pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 2nd at 1:30pm & 6:30pm)
4-5 February / Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
(Tuesday 4th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm; Wednesday 5th at 2:00pm* & 7:30pm)
7-9 February / London The O2 Arena
(Friday 7th at 7:30pm; Saturday 8th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 9th at 1:30pm & 6:30pm)
WATCH: Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour launches in Birmingham:
For more information or to book tickets, visit: www.strictlycomedancinglive.com.