Strictly Come Dancing’s most unlikely pairings – genius or madness?

There are always a few surprises when the Strictly couples are unveiled, but some mismatched pairings live long in the memory - and not always for the right reasons.

One of our favourite parts of Strictly Come Dancing is seeing the celebrities and pro dancers waiting nervously to find out who they’ve been paired with in the first episode.

The looks on their faces as each couple is announced are often priceless – either from pure joy, or utter dread.

[Read more: All you need to know about Strictly 2018]

Some of the pairings seem to have been dreamed up late at night after a long day and too much coffee – here are some of the more unlikely couples from Strictly past.

Ann Widdecombe and Anton Du Beke

Longest-serving pro dancer Anton Du Beke often complains about being given the “joke” partner each year, and just about gets away with it by being utterly charming to most of his leading ladies despite his disappointment.

But the pairing that probably lives on in most viewers’ memories is his partnership with Ann Widdecombe.

[Read more: Who are the celebs dancing in Strictly 2018?]

The former MP barely had a coordinated bone in her body, but was endlessly entertaining with her deadpan expressions, total commitment, and willingness to tackle anything – including flying on wires.

Ann and Anton delighted viewers with dances including a Titanic-themed number, and made it all the way to week 10 in 2010.

Dave Myers and Karen Clifton

She was the glamorous star of Strictly who looked stunning in any outfit thrown at her. He was a Hairy Biker. Together they were a match made in heaven.

On the face of it, Dave and Karen might have seemed like an odd match, but their pairing turned out to be absolute gold.

Yes, Dave didn’t have much natural skill in the ballroom, but his unrivalled enthusiasm and ability to laugh at himself made him a star.

Our favourite routines included Dave hauling Karen about by her leg in the cha-cha, and an extremely flouncy Salsa.

[Read more: Who are the pro dancers in Strictly 2018?]

John Sergeant and Kristina Rihanoff

Who could forget one of the most legendary pairings ever to grace Strictly’s dancefloor?

John Sergeant was possibly the least talented dancer ever to enter the show, but plucky Kristina Rihanoff made the best of his limited skills and came up with some truly hilarious routines.

In the end, John had to step down from the contest himself as his popularity with the public was seeing him knock out genuinely good performers each week, to the annoyance of the judges but to the delight of the audience who just couldn’t get enough of him.

Gregg Wallace and Aliona Vilani

The MasterChef presenter barely had time to make his mark on the competition as he was voted off in the first week.

However, he’s still memorable to us for provoking one of the most awkward reactions we’ve ever seen on a launch show.

Aliona Vilani had lifted the glitterball trophy with Harry Judd, but went on to suffer more than her fair share of duds. The pairing with Wallace must have been the final straw: her initial reaction was one of horror before she appeared to be about to give the judges a piece of her mind. Poor Gregg, meanwhile, looked mortified.

Following their exit, she retweeted 62 comments from fans arguing that she should have been matched with a better partner.

[Read more: Strictly Come Dancing's biggest ever controversies]

Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan

This pairing was slightly different in that it should have been a match made in heaven but unexpectedly Steve and Ola became the couple from hell.

Kids nature presenter Backshall seemed the easiest person in the world to get along with, and Strictly veteran Ola appeared nothing but sweet with her previous partners on the show.

But something must have gone awry - before long Steve claimed that Ola was bullying him in training, and it’s said that they had to be accompanied at all times to keep tabs on the situation.

Unsurprisingly, they don’t seem to have stayed in touch after being eliminated at the halfway stage of series 12.

Judy Murray and Anton Du Beke

There are so many Anton Du Beke pairings we could include, but when even the polished professional complained about this partner you know it's worth a mention.

Tennis matriarch Judy Murray was pulled up every week for her wooden moves and said that even her famous sons Andy and Jamie were embarrassed by her dancing.

But the real humiliation came after her exit, when Anton reportedly said: “She was s***. Why couldn’t they have given me Pixie Lott?”

[Read more: Who fell victim to the Strictly Curse?]

Ed Balls and Katya Jones

We’re not really sure who Ed Balls would have gone well with, but Katya Jones was really holding up the glamorous element of the contest on her own here.

However, Katya proved she was a good sport and resourceful with her choreography by making Ed the must-watch contestant every week.

Triumphs included Gangnam Style, a Mask-themed Samba, and a truly jaw-dropping Cha-Cha to Love Potion No. 9.

In the end, we were genuinely sorry to wave farewell to the star of 2016.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace

It’s an unpleasant element to an otherwise feelgood show that larger, older contestants are expected to fulfil the comedy role.

But Russell Grant turned the stereotype on its head with some style, as he matched his partner Flavia Cacace move for move right from his first performance.

Astrologer Russell burst onto the dancefloor in a sequinned suit dancing to Bananarama’s Venus, showing us he would be anything but the joke of the show.

He made it to week eight as one of the fan favourites, brimming with Strictly sparkle every time he danced.

Strictly Come Dancing begins on Saturday, September 8 at 7.35pm on BBC One.

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