'Strictly Come Dancing': The 3 biggest stories in the week the show returns

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to host Strictly Come Dancing. (BBC)
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to host Strictly Come Dancing. (BBC)

Strictly season is here - a week later than planned, but finally the show has returned to our screens for the 2022 season.

Last year saw the return of the live studio audience, but this time we're fully back to pre-COVID normality as the show will make its mid-season pilgrimage to Blackpool's Tower Ballroom, last visited in 2019.

Read more: Strictly unveils videos of contestants being 'Strictlified'

The 2022 contest might only just be starting this week, but there's still plenty going on in - and away from - the ballroom.

Strictly Come Dancing's 3 biggest stories this week

1. Strictly gets a major schedule change

Strictly Come Dancing's cast of 2022. (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing's cast of 2022. (BBC)

For years now, the Strictly format has been predictable - a pre-recorded launch show where the couples are matched airs before a couple of weeks' break, and then the live shows begin.

However, 2022's Strictly looks a little different as the launch show was recorded the day before the Queen died and was due to air on 17 September, but was postponed until after the funeral to air on 23 September instead.

Read more: Shirley Ballas admits love for joke contestants

That means the live shows will begin the very next night on 24 September as it would otherwise be impossible to fit the series in before Christmas, especially with World Cup fixtures looming.

Back in the early days, Strictly used to air on two consecutive nights at the beginning of the series to fit all of the couples into shorter programmes, and in 2020 the launch show didn't match couples in the studio so as to maintain COVID-safe bubbles.

2. Will Mellor is already injured

Strictly Come Dancing 2022,24-09-2022,Generics,Will Mellor,BBC,Ray Burmiston
Will Mellor has been suffering with his knee. (BBC)

Fans of the BBC contest will remember that Jamie Laing's early injury spelled disaster, seeing him leave the series before the first live show even took place and return for the following year, while his replacement Kelvin Fletcher went on to win.

So actor Will Mellor will be keeping his fingers crossed that he doesn't have to make a similar early exit after hurting his knee.

Mellor has a history of knee trouble and is already finding training tough, posting on Instagram in recent days that his "knees are in shock" and sharing photos of himself icing them.

3. It's set to be an emotional series

Strictly Come Dancing 2022,24-09-2022,Generics,Fleur East,BBC,Ray Burmiston
Fleur East is taking part in honour of her late dad. (BBC)

Things always get a little emotional as the series progresses, but this year's contestants have some deeply personal reasons for taking part.

Singer Fleur East has told how she signed up because it was her late father's favourite show, saying: "He even used to get annoyed that he had to miss out on Strictly when I was on The X Factor because they were on at the same time."

East also said she'd received a good luck message from her dad when her cousin visited a medium.

Presenter Kym Marsh, whose father has been diagnosed with incurable cancer, has said she wants him to be able to watch her dance, while Mellor says he's found himself saying yes to more opportunities since his dad's death.

Meanwhile, Countryfile's Helen Skelton, who has had a tough year after her marriage broke down, said: "I just wanted to do something fun! It was a good chance for my family to see me smiling and it's a fun adventure."

Watch: Who is Strictly's Will Mellor?