Strictly Come Dancing 2023 launch show sees surge in TV viewers

The launch episode of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 was watched by an average of 6.2 million viewers, according to overnight ratings.

The viewing figures marked a spike from 2022’s launch, which was watched by an average of 5.4 million, while the 2021 pre-recorded launch show drew in seven million.

Saturday night’s launch show, which saw the 15 celebrity contestants paired with their professional partners for the first time, enjoyed a peak of 6.7 million viewers.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
The celebrities and professional dancers on the Strictly Come Dancing 2023 launch show on BBC One (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

During the episode, a handful of celebrities were told the dance they will be performing during their first live show.

Former Love Island star Zara McDermott, who was paired with Graziano Di Prima, will be dancing the cha-cha-cha, while the only same-sex couple of this year, Bad Education star Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin, will perform the samba.

Meanwhile, former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach, who was paired with Vito Coppola, was horrified when she heard she would be dancing the jive during her first live performance.

The launch episode included a tribute to the late Len Goodman, who became a judge on the BBC’s flagship programme in 2004, with his final appearance on the 2016 Christmas Day special.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Reigning champions Jowita Przystal and Hamza Yassin on the Strictly Come Dancing 2023 launch show (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Goodman, who became synonymous with his catchphrase “Seven!” on the show, was diagnosed with bone cancer and died in April aged 78.

The Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers and the judges also performed a dance in honour of their “Welsh dragon” Amy Dowden, who said in June she had undergone a mastectomy after discovering she had stage three breast cancer and would be unable to have a celebrity partner on the show this year.

The show also included a dance from emotional reigning champions Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal, who re-enacted their week four salsa performance, as well as a rendition of Free Yourself from British singer Jessie Ware.

Strictly Come Dancing will start on September 23 at 6.15pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.