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Strictly Come Dancing launches with 8.6 million viewers

Strictly Come Dancing's 2020 series launched with an average audience of 8.6 million viewers this weekend.

Starting a month later than usual, the socially distanced series achieved a peak audience of 9 million viewers on Saturday night.

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The numbers are comfortably up on last year, when an average audience of 7.8 million viewers tuned in for the show, peaking with 8.3 million viewers.

As usual, the launch episode saw this year's celebrity line up partnered up with one of the pro dancers.

This year's couples include Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, HRVY and Janette Manrara, Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk, JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, Max George and Dianne Buswell, Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke and Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer.

They're joined by Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice, Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez, Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse, Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe and Clara Amfo and Aljaž Škorjanec

The launch show then saw the first group dance from the celebs as judges Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood offered up their opinions on the pairings.

Due to current restrictions, Bruno Tonioli will not be involved in the show in person at the start of this year's series. Instead, he will contribute remotely to the weekly results show and it's hoped will join the panel later in the run.

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The opening episode also saw audiences treated to an exclusive performance from Joel Corry and MNEK with a special performance from the pros.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday nights on BBC One with the first live episode on Saturday, October 24 at 7:25PM.