A huge smile spread across the face of Claudia Winkleman as she confirmed a big change on Strictly Come Dancing, within seconds of arriving on screen on Friday night.
After this year’s launch show was pushed back by a week, viewers finally got their first look at this year’s contestants in action in the ballroom. This year’s Strictly line-up includes the likes of Ellie Simmonds, Will Mellor and Kym Marsh, but before we saw them take to the floor for their ballroom debut, the Strictly professionals showed them how it was done with a lavish opening number to the strains of Feeling Good.
Claudia and long serving co-host Tess Daly arrived on set as the music ended, with Tess the first to deliver her lines as she thanked the pros and musical director Dave Arch and his band. Looking around her at a packed ballroom that surrounded her, Claudia then remarked: “It’s so lovely to be back and, for the first time in two years, we have a full studio audience,” with the loud cheers from those in the crowd bringing a level of noise that had been missing for the last two series.
Due to Covid restrictions, Strictly had almost no audience at all towards the end of its run in 2020, before having a restricted number of people in attendance last year. And, just like Claudia, plenty of people watching at home, loved having the studio audience back. One took to Twitter to post: “So much better with a studio audience. #Strictly is absolutely back!” Echoing those sentiments, a second wrote: “Sooo excited especially with having an audience back.”
However, not all Strictly fans were quite so enamoured with a crowd being back in the studio, with one reacting: “Why did they bring the Strictly audience back? It was SO much better without them” and another posting: “I haven’t missed the live studio audience.”