Strictly Come Dancing week one, live: HRVY jives to top of scoreboard, Jacqui Smith stranded at bottom

Michael Hogan
·27-min read
Anton and Jacqui's foxtrot
Anton and Jacqui's foxtrot
  • First ever Covid-secure live show saw 12 pro-celebrity couples perform full routines for first time

  • HRVY topped the leaderboard, Maisie Smith just a point behind

  • Jacqui Smith bottom of standings but still 10 times better than Theresa May, say judges

  • Strictly Come Dancing 2020 celebrity line up: meet this year's pairings

  • Who will win Strictly Come Dancing 2020? Predict the winner

Our dancefloor dozen took to the covid-compliant ballroom for their first full routines.

Here are all the major talking points and social media reaction from Strictly 2020’s opening live show… 

Youngsters HRVY and Maisie Smith set the early pace

They were the top two with bookmakers before the series started and this year's two ballroom babies demonstrated why, promptly taking up residency at the leaderboard. 

In a hot pink frock and with more bounce than a Spacehopper on a trampoline, 19-year-old EastEnders starlet Maisie Smith delivered a firecracker samba, scoring a clean sweep of eights - the same as Kelvin Fletcher last year, who also started with a samba and shook his hips all the way to the glitterball trophy. 

However, Smith found herself eclipsed at the last when pop singer and YouTuber HRVY closed the show. The fresh-faced 21-year-old's jive was fierce, fast and furious, full of flicks and kicks. Judge Motsi Mabuse called it “The best first dance I've ever seen” and gave it a nine, taking HRVY one point above Maisie to top the standings. 

Not just sickeningly youthful but also terribly talented. Jealous? Us?

Maisie and Gorka's samba
Maisie and Gorka's samba

Same-sex couple made Strictly history

"Someone has to take that first step and make that change,” said Nicola Adams earlier this week. It was a milestone moment as the Olympic boxer and her pro partner Katya Jones quickstepped across the ballroom floor for the first ever full routine by a same-sex pro-celebrity couple.

Both wore natty monochrome trouser-and-waistcoat outfits and flew around the floor for a jazzy, joyous routine which saw the pair swapping lead roles as it went along. They score all the sevens for a total of 21 points, leaving them in joint third place on the leaderboard.

Surely any naysayers were silenced by this firecracker pairing delivered such a dynamite routine, as fun as it was trailblazing. Adams couldn't take the beaming smile off her face and I'll wager most viewers couldn't either. Knockout.

Nicola and Katya's quickstep
Nicola and Katya's quickstep

Strictly swing-o-meter didn't favour Jacqui Smith 

This year’s prancing politician, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ,certainly threw everything at her dancefloor debut. It wasn't just themed around her profession, set at a polling station, but was also a foxtrot - her long-suffering pro partner Anton du Beke's favourite dance. Do they think she'll be out soon, so are trying to cram it all in while they can?

Possibly a wise move. Anton did all he could to disguise Smith's lack of natural ability. She sat down a lot. She wore a long, squishy skirt to hide her footwork. There were props a-plenty. Smith gamely tried her best but she was shaky, lumpy and lacked musicality, scoring just 13 points which left her stranded at the bottom of the scoreboard.

Still, at least Smith scored a moral victory when judge Craig Revel Horwood told her “it was 10 times better than Theresa May's dancing”.

Jacqui and Anton's foxtrot
Jacqui and Anton's foxtrot

Caroline Quentin was enjoyably exquisite

Comic actress Caroline Quentin and her pro partner Johannes Radebe have already formed one of this year's most endearing pairings. Quentin, 60, did ballet and tap in her school days. Decades later, she's rediscovering the joys of dance and was weepy with gratitude. 

Their American smooth showed off Caroline's elegant arms, precise placement and former ballerina’s grace. She had grace, musicality and flow. Two of the judges used the word “exquisite” and Quentin finished joint third on the leaderboard.

It would be an absolute treat if this year's oldest contestant could give the two youngsters a run for their money. 

Caroline and Johannes' American smooth
Caroline and Johannes' American smooth

New-look live show was strange yet successful

This was the first Strictly live show to be staged in the new Covid-compliant conditions. Although it felt strange at times, overall it was a razzle-dazzle triumph under unusual circumstances.

The most noticeable difference was having three judges rather than four, so their critiques took less screen time. Scores were out of 30 rather than 40, therefore felt low. Bruno Tonioli's late appearance via videolink was rushed and oddly outdated. He didn't mention leaderboard-topper HRVY, presumably because of the time delay. 

Enforced changes to the studio inevitably dampened the atmosphere in the ballroom. Augmented reality projections replaced much of the set dressing and a few times, they looked distractingly naff (yes, we mean you, Caroline Quentin's CBeebies-style train). 

More time was spent on each couple, with longer interviews and bonus VTs. At times this felt like padding but it also added to emotional investment. The high standard of dancing helped hugely, too. This might have been week one but it often felt like week four. 

Bill Bailey was bizarre but entertaining

The whimsical, whiskery comedian surprised a few viewers during the launch show with his nifty moves. His glitterball odds duly plummeted from 66/1 to 16/1. Well, heaven knows what they'll be after tonight's potty performance. 

Paired with reigning pro champion Oti Mabuse, Bailey's cheeky cha cha had plenty of Afro-pop party spirit. He played the drums mid-routine, threw in all manner of flourishes and hurled himself into the dance with glorious abandon.

Pleased but perplexed judge Craig Revel Horwood compared it to “dancing on hot coals after 10 double espressos”. Bailey ended up third from bottom of the leaderboard, which felt harsh. But based on entertainment value alone, wild Bill won't be going anywhere for weeks. 

First elimination beckons next weekend

Next Saturday, the second live show airs at 7.15pm on BBC One. It isn’t the usual Halloween special but will have some spooky theming and a ghostly group dance from the pros. 

This will be followed on Sunday 1st November by this year’s first results show, complete with dreaded dance-off and the first couple sent home. Who’ll get this year’s sparkly wooden spoon? It looks to me like its between the three Js: Jacqui Smith, Jason Bell or Jamie Laing

Join us back here at to dissect and discuss it.   In the meantime, you know what to do: keeeeeeeep dancing! 

08:54 PM

First live show in full

Here’s your routine-by-routine rewind of this year’s opening live show…

08:16 PM

Credits roll

Phew. A packed and pacy show with dancing of, shall we say, variable quality.

That concludes the action on-screen but don’t go anywhere just yet. Please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction…

08:14 PM

Bruno Zooms in

Mr Tonioli chips in over computer link from LA: 'What a show! Strictly is back with a bang. Sweet Caroline took the express train to the nation's hearts. JJ was a charming surprise. Maisie's samba was incredible. Can't wait to see you all. Ciao.'

Ciao right back atcha, Italian stallion. 

08:09 PM

HRVY and Janette’s jive

The vowel averse YouTuber has a tough dance to tackle first up but he should have the bounce and stamina for it. It’s a tune from the movie musical Sing, which should appeal to his youth fanbase. Mic-ography to start, then into impressive flicks and kicks. Classic Janette choreography, side-by-side section superb, a few flourishes and tricks. He's really very good, great partnering, almost pro standard. 

Music: Faith by Stevie Wonder feat. Ariana Grande

Judges’ comments: Craig says: “HRVY, darling, where are all the vowels? But the jive was spectacular.” Shirley says: “Fierce, fast, furious, great action, one to watch, you're on top of your game.” Motsi says: “Best first dance I've ever seen. Awesome. Great ending to a great show.” Eights hoving into view. Maybe even a nine from Motsi? Too soon, surely?

Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 9 for a total of 25 points, taking him top of the leaderboard.

08:04 PM

Bill and Oti’s cha cha

The furry 55-year-old funnyman surprised a few people during the launch show with his nifty moves and sharp kicks. His first dance isn’t a hokey-cokey, as he was hoping, but a cheeky cha cha to the Afro-pop classic - the lyrics mean “touch, touch” in the Xhosa language and it's a big Mabuse family favourite, fact fans. Tiki bar theming, then into a party dance. Shaky start but grows into it. Bill bangs some drums mid-routine, lumpy lifts but he's going for it brilliantly Fast, frantic Cuban steps and a flourish to finish.

Music: Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba 

Judges’ comments: Motsi says: “The whole of South Africa was dancing with you, you had commitment but work on the technique.” Craig says: “You've created a whole new dance genre, like you were dancing on hot coals after 10 double espressos, you threw yourself into it shamelessly.” Shirley says: “Inspiring for every man watching, a power rocket, work on your posture but that was smile-inducing.” Hard to predict the scores there. Sixes?

Judges’ scores: 3 (boo!), 6, 6 for a total of 15 points.

07:54 PM

Nicola and Katya’s quickstep

This is the big one: Strictly’s first ever same-sex pro-celebrity routine. Fittingly, it’s an upbeat quickstep to the irresistibly ecstatic song popularised by Judy Garland. Both in monochrome trouser-and-waistcoat ensembles. Fast footwork like a butterfly but does she sting like a bee? Skipping around the floor, a little flat-footed, lots of gapping but jazzy and joyous. Better in the Charleston sections and grows into the routine. Huge smiles, lot of style. Ended much more strongly than it began.

Music: Get Happy by Ella Fitzgerald

Judges’ comments: Shirley says: “Katya, you're a genius, swapped roles, light on your feet, whipped around the floor, well done.” Motsi says: “Looked good, fitted together, strong core but keep your upper body more stable, you rocked it, keep going.” Craig says: “Absolute dynamite, I adored that routine, fantastic partnership.” Sixes and sevens?

Judges’ scores: 7. 7. 7 for a total of 21 points. Joint second. Strong. 

07:46 PM

Ranvir and Giovanni’s paso doble

Quite a dance to tackle first up and it's caused some friction in training, we hear. Shades of Alex Scott’s Beyoncé paso in Blackpool last year. A fierce, uptempo Afrobeat song. Traditional red flamenco outfits and some nice skirt-ography to start. Lacks curved shaping and she's moving between poses, rather than dancing through the transitions, but imperious attitude and attack. Much better than I'd expected after the launch show and training troubles.

Music: End Of Time by Beyoncé

Judges’ comments: Shirley says: “Exquisite hands, fantastic basic steps.” Motsi says: “Most improved since the launch show, adored it.” Craig says: “Darling, you used that dress like a diva drag queen, a great first dance.”

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21 points. Joint second so far alongside Caroline Quentin. 

Ranvir and Gio's paso doble
Ranvir and Gio's paso doble

07:38 PM

Jason and Luba’s American smooth

An American smooth for the smooth American, set to the 60s Motown classic. How will it compare to Caroline Quentin's? Augmented reality creates a drive-in theme and they're going for the Americana styling. Dad-dancing to start but better in hold. He's clunky and inelegant, like sportsmen sometimes are, but enthusiastic and fully committed. Lacks timing, awkward combo of choreography styles but a sweet mood and whole-hearted effort.

Music: My Girl by The Temptations

Judges’ comments: Motsi says: “You spread the joy but it was tricky to switch from hip-hop style to slow foxtrot.” Craig says: “I wasn't fond of the fusion, a risk that didn't pay off.” Shirley says: “Many sportspeople hold back but you didn't, you have potential and the sky's the limit.” Fours and fives on the way?

Judges’ scores: 4, 6, 6 for a total of 16 points. Perhaps a smidge generous.

Jason and Luba's American smooth
Jason and Luba's American smooth

07:31 PM

Maisie and Gorka’s samba

The bookies’ favourite and baby of the ballroom at just 19 certainly looked the most accomplished during last Saturday’s group number. A tricky, hippy first dance but she’s following in the footsteps of reigning glitterball  champion Kelvin Fletcher, who also started with a samba. Hot pink maribou dress, lots of hip wiggle and bounce.  Fast feet, full of confidence and carnival feel. A few timing wobbles and Queen Of Latin Shirley will doubtless spot some flaws but this is sizzling and superb. The female Kelvin, anyone?

Music: Samba by Gloria Estefan.

Judges’ comments: Shirley says: “Firecracker, pushed yourself, changed timing, wow.” Motsi says: “Girl power. Started with a bang, you brought it back to Mother Earth, shake it up.” Craig says: “A-may-zing.” I smell eights.

Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points. Top of the pops.

Maisie and Gorka's samba
Maisie and Gorka's samba

07:23 PM

JJ and Amy’s waltz

JJ has long wanted to learn this dance for his family and comrades from Afghanistan. A gliding, elegant dance to the jazz classic. The Scottish-Welsh couple are sweetly romantic, slow and stately. Sickly sweet but a very respectable first effort and emotional too. Amy's first waltz on Strictly too, surprisingly.

Music: What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Judges’ comments: Craig says: “You did it justice, there was gapping and needs more drive but K loved it - rise and fall, beautiful.” Shirley says: “I loved what it represented, your brother must be proud of you, magnificent frame, simply and lovely.” Motsi says: “I'm emotional, It's my dad's favourite song. You created an atmosphere. Magical.” Sixes and sevens a-coming?

Judges’ scores: 6, 6, 7 for a total of 19 points. Second place at the halfway mark. 

JJ and Amy's waltz
JJ and Amy's waltz

07:15 PM

Jacqui and Anton’s foxtrot

The former Home Secretary seems to have opted for novelty value with her song choice - the music hall-style singalong from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian. But the foxtrot is king of ballroom™ Anton’s favourite dance, so he's certainly taking it seriously. Messin' abaht with a polling station to open with far too much sitting down.  Swishy skirt and a jaunty section, then into hold.  That skirt is hiding a multitude of footwork sins. Some top hat and cane prop-ography. Sparks fly. Kicks, glitter. Shaky but fun. She's not a natural, bless her. 

Music: Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life by Monty Python

Judges’ comments: Motsi says: “You get my vote. You looked like a real dancer with props and all, now we need you to open up and express yourself.” Craig says: “Lacked musicality, lumpy, double your energy, don't give up and stop dancing while you get the props, close your feet, dah-ling. but you're ten times better than Theresa May's dancing.” Shirley says: “Pleasantly surprised, huge improvement from launch show, well done.” Fours?

Judges’ scores: 3, 5, 5 for a total of 13 points. Jacqui's mantra apparently was 'try hard and look as if you're enjoying it' but she's bottom so far. Anton's 'had worse with four judges so I'm not unhappy'.

Jacqui and Anton's foxtrot
Jacqui and Anton's foxtrot

07:05 PM

Clara and Aljaž’s cha cha

The Radio 1 DJ is dancing to something suitably poppy with last year’s funky nu-disco hit. City of light theme with lasers, confident opening on her own and lots of snap in her footwork. Tasselled dress accentuating the movement. Lost her footwork but great in the side-by-side sections, body ripples. Flagged a tad towards the end but heaps of fun and a kick to finish. 

Music: Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa

Judges’ comments: Shirley says: “There's not a part of your body that can't move, great rhythm and chemistry, loved the clever poly-rhythms, very good start.” Motsi says: “Determination, be more aware of your whole body, but high-energy, keep it rolling.” Craig says: “Stompy, straighten legs, loved the disco elements but technically poor, time to improve.” Fives again? And a cute video message from Dua Lipa.

Judges’ scores: 5, 6, 7 for a total of 18 points. Second so far. 

Clara and Alijaz do the cha cha
Clara and Alijaz do the cha cha

06:57 PM

Max and Dianne’s tango

Nursing a wrist injury, The Wanted’s Max George starts with a passionate tango to James Bay’s bluesy, rocky 2016 hit. Fashion model theme, retro styling and lots of travel around the floor. Staccato movement and footwork is pretty impressive, although he could be lower in the knees. Also needs more snap and sizzle but Max was nervous as hell and is conquering it well. 

Music: Best Fake Smile by James Bay

Judges’ comments: Craig says: “Needed more V-shape, free arm placement bothered me and change of direction could be clearer but you're very watchable, easy on the eye.” Shirley says: “Fierce, chemistry but needed more in hold and traditional content.” Motsi says: “Beautiful neck and frame but I felt you thinking during the dance which drained energy. Lift yourself up, you've got it all.” Fives, do we think?

Judges’ scores: 5, 6, 6 for a total of 17 points. Solid.

Max and Dianne's tango
Max and Dianne's tango

06:49 PM

Caroline and Johannes’ American smooth

Lots of love between these two, which is sweet. Their training room footage is a joy, with childhood ballerina Caroline in tears about reconnecting with dance. A big style for a debut but one that should suit Caroline’s elegant arms and former ballerina’s grace. Terrible train effects to start but Caroline's confident in the solo sections and lovely topline in hold. A few footwork stumbles but she looks like a dancer and her performance level is gorgeous. Lifts, timing, confidence. Johannes can be a scene-stealer but not here. 

Music: 9 to 5 (Morning Train) by Sheena Easton

Judges’ comments: Motsi says: “I saw a dancing queen, attention to detail was a delight, feet and fingers, you brought it to life.” Craig says: “Don't turn your feet out so much but your musicality is a sensation and the finish on your arms and hands was graceful, I loved it.”  Shirley says: “A joy. Graceful, charming, exquisite timing and flow, you did yourself so proud.” Seveeeens?

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21 points. Top so far. Deserves it. 

Caroline and Johannes' American smooth
Caroline and Johannes' American smooth

06:40 PM

Jamie and Karen’s cha cha

Second time lucky for Jamie Biscuits after his injury dropout last year? They’re dancing to the synth-pop banger which was set to be Iceland’s hotly tipped Eurovision entry until the contest was cancelled due to you-know-what. The song has since become a TokTok hit and viral phenomenon, so it’s a smart choice. With their matching peroxide crops, Jamie and Karen have been compared to Bros. White outfits to match and a sparkly key-tar. Cuban steps hidden amid dry ice, which is a slight swizz. A game, disco-tinged effort but his bottom's sticking out. Good facial expressions, fun vibe and decent timing. Respectable effort for week one.

Music: Think About Things by Daði Freyr

Judges’ comments: Shirley says: “Glitz and glamour, very nice performance, you show potential in your lower half but need to work on foot movement and sense of line.” Motsi says: “High energy but working on technique pays off, that was a party.” Craig says: “Flat-footed and stiff of hip, those lovely trousers restricted you and stop your mouth from counting but I loved your commitment.” Fives, do we reckon?

Judges’ scores: 4, 5, 5 for a total of 14 points. Well, they're in the lead, as Jamie says. 

Jamie and Karen's cha cha
Jamie and Karen's cha cha

06:36 PM

Time to meet the stars of our show

Here come the dancefloor dozen. First night nerves ahoy. Clara Amfo and Maisie Smith looking fab-ew-lous. Jacqui Smith all regal with a rosette. Best in show? Bit early to say, darling. 

06:35 PM

Here comes the judges

No Bruno Tonioli yet but we welcome the remaining three judges: Motsi MabuseCraig Revel Horwood and head judge Shirley Ballas. All in monochrome like the co-hosts. I wonder if they consulted each other on the dress code. 

06:34 PM


This year’s first live comparison of the co-presenters’ couture. Tess Daly in a bizarre  black sequinned, asymmetric, one-shoulder, flared jumpsit. Tassles too. A lot going on. Claudia Winkleman's in a monochrome prom dress. A comfortable win for Claudia, I feel. 

06:30 PM

Pros open the show in style

We kick off with a dazzling, Latin street-style routine from the professional troupe - which seems to be a tribute to stage musical In The Heights. A film version was supposed to be out by now but has been bumped back to summer 2021 because of you-know-what. Graffiti, garish outfits and bare chests ahoy. 

06:29 PM

Roll new-look credits sequence

Our first look at this year’s titles. These cheesy, cheeky moves will become all too familiar over the next two months. 

06:28 PM

And we're off!

Straight in with some inspirational, scene-setting VTs. Expect the phrases 'journey' and 'comfort zone'.

06:26 PM

Take your sofa seats and charge your glasses

Dust off your dancing shoes, we’re about to go over live to the Elstree Studios ballroom…

06:20 PM

Word from the training rooms

Latest news is that The Wanted’s Max George is nursing a wrist injury, although it shouldn’t affect his dancing tonight. 

More juicily, newsreader Ranvir Singh stormed out of rehearsals while practising her paso doble with partner Giovanni Pernice. A fiery Latin dance indeed.

A mere five minutes now left on the glittery countdown…

06:15 PM

Maisie Smith starts with a samba

Teen EastEnders actress Maisie Smith caught the eye during the launch show and is the clear bookies' favourite. She’s tackling the tricky samba to a classic Gloria Estefan carnival anthem. 

It’s a tough first dance style to master but Kelvin Fletcher opened with a samba last year and went on to win the glitterball trophy. A possible omen? And can Maisie match Kelvin’s leaderboard-topping score of 32 points? 

Do some gente stretching. It's just ten minutes until that familiar ba-ba-daa theme tune…

06:11 PM

Jacqui Smith foxtrots onto the dancefloor

Another one to watch this evening is former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and her partner Anton Du Beke. They've opted for comedy value with a foxtrot to “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian

The foxtrot happens to be Anton’s favourite dance. Could the king of ballroom be getting it in early, just in case of early elimination? Just 15 minutes to wait now…

06:04 PM

Strictly history will be made

All eyes tonight will be on Olympic boxer Nicola Adams, who forms Strictly’s first same-sex couple with pro Katya Jones

Fittingly, the show’s first ever routine performed by two women will be an upbeat quickstep to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Get Happy” - the ecstatic, evangelical Harold Arlen song most associated with Judy Garland.

What better way to pack up your troubles and chase all your cares away? Twenty minutes to curtain up…

06:00 PM

Nobody gets knocked out

Remember, there’s no public vote, results show, dreaded dance-off nor elimination this week. The judges’ scores will roll over to next weekend, when we’ll lose our first couple. 

Who’ll get the sparkly-handled wooden spoon? We’ll get our first hints soon. It's 25 minutes until showtime…

05:55 PM

Lots of Latin but plenty of ballroom

Tonight's songs and dances have been announced and it’s a proper mixed bag: there are three cha cha chas (always a popular choice for rookie hoofers) and two American smooths (earlier than usual). 

There’s also a paso doble, a jive and a samba, which we don’t usually get in week one. A symptom of this shortened series, it seems, which will unfold over nine weeks rather than the usual 13. 

Half an hour until until choreographic kick-off…

05:48 PM

It’s time to get down to serious ballroom business

The trousers have been tightened. The gowns have been glitter-spangled. The spraytans have dried.

Tonight the Class of Strictly 2020 will make their heavily sequinned live dancefloor debuts and face the judging panel’s critiques for the first time. It’s a month later than usual but even more eagerly anticipated for it. 

We were introduced to this year’s dancing dozen during last Saturday’s launch show, saw them paired up with their professional partners and got a fleeting glimpse of their hoofing potential during that climactic, chaotic group number. 

The newly formed pro-celebrity couples have since disappeared into their “support bubbles” for a week’s intensive training. So who will rise to the occasion and who will wilt under the sparkly spotlight?

We’ll see Strictly history made with the first ever same-sex dance from Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and her pro partner Katya Jones. We’ll also get our first clues about whether prancing politician Jacqui Smith is likely to be an Ann Widdecombe/Ed Balls (ie. surprise quarter-finalist) or an Edwina Currie (booted out first).

I’m Michael, your virtual dance partner for tonight’s live opener. It’s showtime at 7.25pm on BBC One. I’ll be liveblogging from 6.45pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, social media reaction and sardonic backchat. 

Please join me - and join in, too. You can email me on,  tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here. 

Forget lockdowns. Tiers be damned for two hours. Saturday nights are about to sparkle again. Nearly time to staaaaaaart covid-safe dancing!