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8 facts you didn’t know about Strictly Come Dancing

From where the show’s name comes from to the lowest scoring dance

Isobel Lewis
Friday 08 December 2023 16:36 GMT
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Ever since Strictly Come Dancing first aired in 2004, it’s been bringing glitter, rhinestones and dad dancing to Saturday night TV.

Over the years, Strictly has grown into one of the biggest shows on UK television, with 10 million people tuning in each week as they watch the celebrity contestants grow from stompy footed to light on their feet.

Here are eight things you didn’t know about Strictly Come Dancing...

It’s the world’s most successful reality TV format

When it began in a little studio at the BBC, Strictly seemed like a celebrity reality competition series like any other. But since then, the show has grown and grown, not only in the UK, but abroad too. 

First broadcast under the name Dancing with the Stars, it is the world’s most successful reality TV format and is licenced to more than 75 countries including the US, China and India.

Getting a perfect 40 is hard, but not impossible

Scoring top marks on Strictly – the perfect 40 points – is the dream for any couple on the show. In the show’s 20 seasons, full marks have been awarded to more than 80 different dances, with former pro Pasha Kovelev taking home 13 of these. He scored five of those top scores with Pussycat Dolls star Ashley Roberts, and three with the late TV host Caroline Flack.

The results show is pre-recorded

The couples face the dance-off during the (pre-recorded) results show (BBC)

Sorry to shatter the illusion, but the Strictly results show is not live and hasn’t been since 2009. Yes, the judges and presenters may wear different clothes and talk about “last night’s show”, but Sunday’s episode is actually recorded after voting closes on Saturday.

The name has an interesting origin

If you’ve ever wondered where Strictly’s name comes from, this is your answer. Come Dancing was a ballroom dancing competition series which aired on the BBC from 1949 to 1998 and featured non-celebrity contestants. When they revamped the show as a reality series, they merged the name with Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 film Strictly Ballroom to add a bit of pizzazz...

There’s not just one type of tango on Strictly

It wouldn’t be Strictly without fake tan, something many of the contestants are forced to get before the seasons begin. In fact, the series’s fake tan team get through a whopping 57 litres of the stuff a series so when you sense an orange glow coming from your TV screens… that’d be why!

The show’s highest scorers often don’t win

Individually, Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev tie with Alexandra Burke and Gorka Márquez for the most 10s scored by a couple, having racked up an impressive 32 each on their seasons. Interestingly, neither couple went on to win the years they competed.

The one mark paddle does (occasionally) make an appearance

Quentin Wilson scored two ones for his Cha Cha Cha in 2004 (BBC)

At the other end of the spectrum, the one point paddle has only been brought out numerous times in Strictly’s 18 seasons, with most of those – surprise surprise! – being given by Craig Revel Horwood. One of the lowest scored dances was Quentin Wilson and Hazel Newberry’s Cha Cha Cha in season two which scored eight points in total. Ouch.

The costume team have quite the job on their hands

Putting the costumes together for Strictly is no mean feat, with the team (led by Vicky Gill) having to make around 300 outfits throughout the season. Outfits are usually made throughout the week, with each ballroom dress taking eight to 10 metres of fabric to make and final fittings taking place on Fridays.

Strictly Come Dancing’s live show air on Saturday nights on BBC One.

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