Strictly Come Dancing 2014 celebrities set for opening dances

PUBLISHED: 16:12 26 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:59 27 September 2014

EastEnders star Jake Wood and partner Janette Manrara [Picture: BBC / Ray Burmiston]

EastEnders star Jake Wood and partner Janette Manrara [Picture: BBC / Ray Burmiston]

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Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One screens tonight (Friday) with the first celebrities - including Tewin-based EastEnders actor Jake Wood - ready to shimmy, sashay, and cha-cha-cha in front of a studio audience and the four judges.

Jake Wood is paired with Janette Manrara on the Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show [Picture: BBC / Guy Levy]Jake Wood is paired with Janette Manrara on the Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show [Picture: BBC / Guy Levy]

EastEnders star Jake Wood will swap Walford for fake tan, sequins and the Strictly ballroom tonight (Friday), in the first of the weekend’s two live shows.

The twinkle-toed talent from Tewin will partner American professional Janette Manrara on the dance floor for the first time in front of an audience at Elstree Studios.

They will be performing a tango to Toxic on tonight’s show, which starts at 9pm.

Jake, who plays Albert Square lothario Max Branning in the BBC One soap, tweeted this morning (Friday): “Never thought I’d ever say this but tonight I’m dancing the Tango on live TV @BBCOne 9pm! Let’s do this @JManrara !!!! #StrictlyComeDancing”

The EastEnders star’s pro dance partner Janette – @JManrara – tweeted yesterday (Thursday): “@bbcstrictly! Cannot wait to dance w/ @mrjakedwood! Watch tomorrow night for the very 1st episode!!!

And taking to Twitter on Wednesday, she revealed: “Just finished our last official Tango rehearsal! On set for the 1st time tomorrow! Bring it on! ”

The snake-hipped Jake retweeted, adding: “#bosslady is happy”

Jake is already being backed for Strictly stardom by Hertfordshire tourist attraction Butterfly World, at Chiswell Green, near St Albans.

The pioneering conservation project tweeted: “Staff, butterflies and moths @ButterflyWP all supporting our patron @mrjakedwood! #StrictlyComeDancing @bbcstrictly”

The other male celebrities on the show this season are MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace, BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, Blue singer Simon Webbe, ex-Towie star Mark Wright, BAFTA Award-winning naturalist Steve Backshall, former rugby player Thom Evans and antiques expert Tim Wonnacott.

This Morning’s showbiz reporter Alison Hammond, TV presenter Caroline Flack, Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge, Mrs Brown’s Boys star Jennifer Gibney, tennis coach Judy Murray, singer Pixie Lott and Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker complete this year’s sparkling line-up of celebrities.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to host a series with more glitz and glamour than ever before.

In tonight’s live shows, six celebrities and their professional dancers will take to the ballroom as a duo for the very first time.

They will be critiqued by Strictly judges Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Luckily for these six dancing duos, they will avoid elimination until next weekend, where they will face the public vote and dance off.

In Saturday’s second live show of the weekend, the remaining nine celebrity dancers and their professional partners take to the sparkliest floor in showbusiness.

The ballroom wannabes will then battle it out each week until the grand final in December, where one celebrity and their professional dancer will win the coveted glitter-ball trophy.

* Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One tonight (Friday, September 26) from 9pm to 10pm.

Saturday’s Strictly Come Dancing show starts at 7pm and finishes at 8.30pm.

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