Strictly Come Dancing 2017: All you need to know about the new series

Saturday nights are about to get a whole lot more glittery on BBC One as the celebrity dance contest returns.

A new group of 15 celebrities are quaking in their dance shoes waiting for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing to begin.

But while the contestants may be feeling the nerves in the run-up to the launch show, we can’t wait to find out whether they will be dancefloor dreams or duds.

[Read more: Strictly Come Dancing: Gossip, news and all the latest scores]

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the return of the sparkliest show on TV.

When does Strictly Come Dancing return?

The launch show is on Saturday September 9 at 7pm on BBC One, but as is Strictly tradition, we’ll only briefly meet the contestants and see them paired up with their pro partners before they retreat to the dance studio for a few weeks' much-needed practice.

Strictly 2017 proper gets under way on Saturday, September 23 when the competition will really begin.

Who are the judges and presenters this year?

Fans of the show may be feeling a little bit subdued after the recent loss of TV treasure Sir Bruce Forsyth, especially with head judge Len Goodman retiring last year. Can Strictly ever be the same without them?

Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli are all returning to the judging panel and this year will be joined by Shirley Ballas.

The new head judge is famed in the dance world for being the Queen of Latin, has numerous title wins under her belt and is mother to Mark Ballas - a pro dancer in the US version Dancing with the Stars - so it sounds like the scoring paddles will be in safe hands.

Hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are anchoring the Strictly ship once more, while Zoe Ball is back for BBC Two spin-off It Takes Two.

Which celebrities will be competing?

Producers have been ramping up the excitement already this year with staggered announcements of who will be competing to win the glitterball trophy.

We now know the full line-up of celebrities which includes a selection of pop stars, actors, comedians and even a vicar.

Swapping pop music routines for waltzes and foxtrots will be former JLS star Aston Merrygold, Saturdays singer Mollie King and X Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

Comedians Brian Conley and Susan Calman will be hoping not to raise too many laughs with their performances, while Reverend Richard Coles will be praying for good scores and Paralympian Jonnie Peacock will be hoping to emulate some of his gold-medal-winning successes.

Ruth Langsford and Charlotte Hawkins are forgoing their TV interviewer roles to be the stars under the spotlight instead and chef Simon Rimmer will swap the heat of the kitchen for sizzling salsas.

Entertainer Debbie McGee could be one of the most at-home contestants with glamorous outfits and glitzy routines, but actors Gemma Atkinson, Chizzy Akudolu, Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden will all be used to getting into character for each dance, too.

Any new professional dancers?

Yep, loads of ‘em. But you’ll be pleased to know that old favourites such as Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin and Karen Clifton, and Aljaz Skorjanec are all back.

Chloe Hewitt and Neil Jones may be a little familiar as they took part in one-off shows – Hewitt partnered Gethin Jones in last year’s Christmas special, while Jones was with Hollie Webb for the Children In Need version.

[Read more: 10 things you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing]

Welsh dancer and current British National Champion Amy Dowden is new to the show this year, as are former Dancing With The Stars Australia pro Dianne Buswell and former World Champion Nadiya Bychkova who has appeared on the Bosnian version of Strictly.

Who should I put my money on?

If you fancy a flutter on this year’s winner, it may come as no surprise that Merrygold is the current bookies’ favourite, closely followed by his fellow singers King and Burke.

For those who want to take more of a risk with their cash, poor old Rimmer is considered least likely to be victorious, and This Morning host Langsford is just ahead of him.

Any other key dates for my Strictly diary?

Obviously, Blackpool week is the one we’re all waiting for – it’s every contestant’s aim to dance at the Tower Ballroom before they embark on the home leg to the grand final, and it sees some of the most spectacular routines of each series. This year, Strictly will be heading to Blackpool on Saturday, November 18.

The final, when we’ll see our king or queen of the dancefloor crowned, takes place on Saturday, December 16.

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday, September 9 at 7pm on BBC One.

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