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Strictly Come Dancing 2017 week 1 recap

The 15 couples danced for the first time during tonight’s live show.

Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec
Credit: BBC

Strictly Come Dancing kicked off its 2017 live shows last night as the 15 couples danced for the first time for the public vote.

Following the launch show earlier this month, last night was the first time the public got to see what this year’s crop of celebrities were capable of. It was also the first time new Head Judge Shirley Ballas presided over the Strictly panel offering critique to the couples.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman hosted as they offered comfort and support for the celebs throughout the night.

Keep reading to find out what happened and how each of the couples got on during week 1….

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Hollyoaks actress Gemma was the first of this year’s celebs to take the dance floor. She’s been tipped as a contender for the final but would she live up to high expectations with her Cha-Cha?

The dance: It’s a big ask to open the series and Gemma understandably looked nervous. Her Cha-Cha to Shawn Mendes’ There’s Nothing Holding Me Back, however, was a decent start – sassy, fun and full of energy. It wasn’t the most technically proficient but I think that will improve as her confidence grows.

The comments: Shirley said Gemma ‘brought it’ but wanted her to work on standing on her straight leg. Bruno loved the pouting and attitude but criticised her foot placement. Craig called it blocky, square and heavy, whilst Darcey said Gemma was flirty and cheeky.

The score: 4, 5, 5, 6 – 20 out of 40

Brian Conley & Amy Dowden

Brian Conley & Amy Dowden

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

TV entertainer Brian has already established himself as the joker of this series. Partnered with new Welsh pro Amy, would his Tango show that he could be serious on the dancefloor?

The dance: Oh dear. Brian’s Tango to Temptation by Heaven 17 was all over the place – stiff, stompy and lots of gurning. Huge credit to him for effort but I fear he may be the first to go out. That said, it is only week one so maybe he’ll improve in the Latin dances.

The comments: Bruno loved the intensity and drama but not the footwork. Craig said Brian had poor posture and didn’t drive the dance. Darcey praised his intent, and Shirley said he had some good moves.

The score: 3, 4, 4, 5 – 16 out of 40

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Alexandra has dance experience as a pop star and musical actress, and is already one of the leaders in the race for the glitterball. But how would her and Gorka’s first performance fare?

The dance: Alexandra showed why she’s one to watch in her dreamy Waltz to Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman. Her footwork was lovely and she had great rise and fall, and she and Gorka make a gorgeous couple. If she does this well in her Latin then she’ll be a hot favourite to take home the trophy.

The comments: Craig loved Alexandra’s expressive arms but wanted a longer neckline. Darcey loved her musicality, and Bruno praised her natural artistry. Shirley said she needed to focus on her legs and feet.

The score: 5, 6, 6, 7 – 24 out of 40

Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton

Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

TV chef Simon cooks up a storm on Sunday Brunch, but could he and Karen bring the same heat to the Strictly ballroom with the first Paso of the series?

The dance: Dancing to Song 2 by Blur, Simon showed plenty of attack in his Paso Doble, but for me the routine lacked passion and felt a little clompy. Not the best we’ve ever seen but for the first week he made a decent fist of things and is definitely showing some potential.

The comments: Darcey liked Simon’s determination and focus but wanted more shaping. Shirley said it needed more rotation. Bruno thought it needed more artistry, and Craig criticised the lack of Spanish line.

The score: 3, 5, 5, 4 – 17 out of 40

Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole

Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Breakfast​ TV presenter Charlotte brings sunshine to Britain’s mornings. But could she and her veteran partner Brendan light up the dancefloor too?

The dance: Charlotte was the biggest surprise of the night with her fabulous Foxtrot to Michael Bublé’s version of The Best Is Yet To Come. Her lines were beautiful and the routine was stylish and elegant. If she can let go in her Latin she might make it all the way to the end.

The comments: Shirley loved Charlotte’s footwork and particularly praised her for attempting a heel turn. Bruno warned her not to lose her frame, while Craig and Darcey both said she had potential.

The score: 5, 5, 6, 6 – 22 out of 40

Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev

Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Casualty star Chizzy could barely contain her excitement when she was paired with Pasha – but would their Cha-Cha to Boogie Fever by The Slyvers set pulses racing?

The dance: It’s not the most content-heavy Cha-Cha of the night, but you can’t fault Chizzy for enthusiasm. She looked like she was having an absolute ball out there and her sheer sense of fun is utterly infectious.

The comments: Bruno called her ‘fizzy Chizzy’ but said the dance lacked refinement​, while Craig praised Chizzy’s rhythm and feel for the music and Darcey said she loved watching her.

The score: 4, 5, 6, 6 – 21 out of 40

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Sprinter Jonnie is the first Paralympian to ever take part in Strictly. He’s teamed with last year’s runner up Oti, but can they get to the gold medal position this year?

The dance: Jonnie’s Waltz to When I Need You by Luther Vandross wasn’t the most technically outstanding I’ve ever seen, but it had bags of charm and he came across as incredibly likeable. I think he might be more suited to Latin than ballroom but am looking forward to seeing how far he’ll go in the competition.

The comments: Craig said Jonnie’s posture and hand shaping let him down but it was a brilliant job. Darcey liked his timing and control but wanted more character, whilst Shirley praised his rise and fall.

The score: 4, 5, 5, 6 – 20 out of 40

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Holby City actor Joe was tasked with the first Jive of the series. It’s an ambitious move for week one – would he be able to pull it off?

The dance: I hadn’t expected much from Joe but was pleasantly surprised by his Jive to Michael Jackson’s Rockin’ Robin. The kicks weren’t quite as sharp as I’d like, but he really captured the spirit of the dance and the routine was great fun. Here’s hoping he can do just as well in his ballroom next week.

The comments: Darcey liked Joe’s energy and praised Katya’s choreography. Shirley said it was entertaining and Bruno thought he had great polish. Craig summed it up in three words: ‘I like you’ – high praise indeed!

The score: 7, 7, 8, 7 – 29 out of 40

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Comedian and TV presenter Susan made no secret of the fact she wanted Kevin as her partner and was utterly thrilled to be teamed with him. But would the judges be mad about their Waltz to Dinah Washington’s Mad About The Boy?

The dance: Looking lovely in leopard print, Susan showed she can dance too – her footwork was  particularly impressive and she had great timing. I’m not sure she’s a winer but think she can definitely make it to Blackpool at least.

The comments: Shirley praised Susan’s fleckle and loved the cheeky character she brought to the dance. Bruno said it was weird but wonderful, and Darcey liked the character and storytelling. Craig, however, called it skippy and said Susan’s leg ‘sprung up like a mushroom’.

The score: 5, 5, 5, 5 – 20 out of 40

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Former magician’s assistant Debbie McGee said she was inspired to take part in Strictly by her late husband Paul Daniels. Could she and her partner Giovanni make some magic on the dancefloor?

The dance: In a night of surprise packages, Debbie could be the biggest dark horse of them all. Her Paso Doble to Be Italian by Fergie was a little hectic at times, but I loved her shaping and thought she had great lines. Bring on the ballroom!

The comments: Darcey and Shirley gave Debbie a standing ovation, with Shirley calling her outstanding and Darcey saying she was on fire. Bruno praised her detail, while Craig said she danced like a 20 year old.

The score: 8, 8, 7, 7 – a whopping 30 out of 40

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

EastEnders hunk Davood and new pro Nadiya are one of the most hotly tipped couples on this year’s Strictly. But would their Cha-Cha set the dancefloor on fire?

The dance: Dancing to Lloyd featuring Andre 3000’s Dedication To My Ex, Davood certainly looked smoking hot. However, for me the routine lacked a spark – it needed more hip action and he leant forward too much. But he and Nadiya have great chemistry and I’m hoping they can show more as the weeks go on.

The comments: Craig wanted more hips, whilst Darcey loved the attack and energy. Shirley praised Davood’s partnering skills but said there were some posture problems.

The score: 6, 7, 7, 7 – 27 out of 40

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

TV presenter Ruth has swapped the This Morning sofa for the Strictly dancefloor – but would her Waltz shine out on the opening show of the series?

The dance: Ruth had clearly put plenty of time and effort into her Waltz to Seth MacFarlane’s​ This Nearly Was Mine, but her footwork was sloppy and she had a wobbly top line. That said, it wasn’t a bad dance for a complete beginner and I’m hoping shell come back stronger next week.

The comments: Darcey thought it had grace but said Ruth had balance issues. Shirley said it was elegant despite the timing mistakes, and Bruno called it ‘a picture of wholesome loveliness’. Craig, meanwhile, said ‘better luck next week’.

The score: 3, 4, 4, 5 – 16 out of 40

Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell

Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Reverend Richard Coles has been one of the most popular contestants on this year’s Strictly since his appearance was announced. But would his partnership with Dianne Buswell be a heavenly one?

The dance: Richard descended from the studio ceiling playing a harp before launching into his Cha-Cha to The Eurythmics’ There Must Be An Angel. The dance was a bit haphazard and stompy, but his timing was great and he gave it his all. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next week.

The comments: Shirley loved that Richard gave it 100%, while Bruno called his technique diabolical. Craig said the problems started when the cloud landed, but Darcey said it was divine and Richard sold it.

The score: 2, 4, 6, 5 – 17 out of 40

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Pop star Mollie King is the second member of The Saturdays to appear on Strictly. Would she and her partner AJ Pritchard make sweet music together on the dancefloor?

The dance: Mollie’s Jive to Good Golly Miss Molly by Little Richard was full of energy and personality, but she looked a little unsteady at times. That said she has great potential and I’m hoping she’ll relax a bit more in ballroom hold next week.

The comments: Bruno said Mollie needs to let AJ lead, while Craig said it was a bit flat-footed but a great start. Darcey wanted more stamina and attack, but Shirley praised Mollie’s potential and said she needs to build on the basics.

The score: 4, 6, 7, 6 – 23 out of 40

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Closing the show were JLS singer Aston and his partner Janette. He’s better known for his backflips than his ballroom, but expectations were high – could he live up to them with his Foxtrot?

The dance: Definitely saving the best for last, Aston wowed with his smooth slick Foxtrot to Harry Connick Jr’s It Had To Be You. He had great technique and style as well as plenty of attitude, and I’m so excited for his Latin next week. He’s set the bar high, but if he can keep this standard up then he’s a hot favourite to win.

The comments: Craig disliked the self-indulgent flashy moments but praised Aston’s confidence. Darcey called it cool, controlled and stylish, whilst Bruno said Aston was a classic in the making. Shirley liked his musicality but told him to work on his footwork. 

The score: 7, 8, 8, 8 – 31 out of 40

The leaderboard for the evening was:

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara – 31

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 30

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 29

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 27

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 24

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 23

Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole – 22

Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev – 21

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 20

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 20

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 20

Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton – 17

Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell – 17

Brian Conley & Amy Dowden – 16
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 16

Check out the couples during dress rehearsal in our gallery:

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