THE stars of this year’s Strictly partnered up last night as they hit the floor for the first time.
A glamorous red carpet launch, stunning group routine and the pairing of the celebrities with their professional partners kicked off the new series of the hit BBC dance-off.
And Kate Silverton, who’ll be dancing with Alijaz Skorjanec, is hoping to follow in the fancy footsteps of fellow newsreaders who’ve blazed a trail of success on the show.
Natasha Kaplinsky won the very first series with Brendan Cole and Susanna Reid and Katie Derham have both reached the final.
“I don’t feel pressure because I’m starting from the lowest point,” said Kate, 48.
“The only way is up. It’s good that they’ve set the bar so high. It’s something to aim for.
“Everyone talks about making it to Blackpool, so that would be a good goal. It’d be nice to stay in for that and Halloween is really good dressing up fun.
“My only other goal is to get back in my wedding dress. I got married at 40 and it’s been quite a long eight years with the kids since then.”
Mum-of-two Kate, a BBC news anchor, has been seeking advice from her colleagues.
“Katie described it as a ‘rhinestone blitz spirit’. That probably summed it up really well. She said it would be unlike anything else I’d ever done and to just hold on tight.
“And she also advised getting blister plasters and knee supports. I didn’t realise it was going to be this hard.”
Having reported from the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kate concedes she’s stepped into another world entirely. And she’s ruling out nothing as far as outfits are concerned.
“I walked in on day one and said ‘do whatever you like – I want feathers, I want wigs’. It’s good to step into something and be a completely different person.”
And just like Kate, Susannah Constantine, fashion expert and TV presenter, isn’t holding back either.
“It’s a dream come true. To have clothes made for you that fit like a pair of handmade shoes is the most magical thing.
“And to be a woman of 56 and walk out feeling glamorous is quite a result. That’s difficult, but the wardrobe department do that. They’re amazing. I’ve just said that I don’t want anything too high-necked and I don’t want to show my backside.
“So if they think short skirts are right, I’ll go with it.”
Debbie McGee was last year’s revelation, high-kicking her way to the final.
“If I could dance even a quarter as well as her I’d be over the moon,” said Susannah. “Or if I could touch my toes – but I can’t.”
The celebrities have two weeks now to hone their routines for the first live show on September 22.
But Paralympian Lauren Steadman will be missing part of the vital training as she’s in Australia, preparing to take part in the World Triathlon Grand Final which starts on Wednesday.
“I sat down with my coach and I always realised this time would be pretty stressful,” said Lauren, 25, who was born without her lower right arm. “I knew that I’d miss the first week of dance rehearsal and I’ll only have a few days when I get back.
“But I’ll cross the line at the Worlds – hopefully having brought home the gold medal – and then I’ll get right into Strictly.”
Lauren is the second Paralympic athlete to compete in the show, following Jonnie Peacock last year.
“I haven’t spoken to Jonnie but I will when I get back,” said Lauren.
“It’s slightly different as it’s Jonnie’s leg and my arm, but I will get his advice and his thoughts on how he dealt with everything.
“The main message for us both, though, is that you can have a disability and it doesn’t affect what you do.”
Strictly’s return is likely to be bad news for ITV rival The X Factor.
It returned last week with new judges Robbie Williams, wife Ayda Field and One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson joining Simon Cowell on a new-look judging panel.
Despite the shake-up the series opener had the lowest viewing figures since it started in 2004.