The 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing is about to hit our screens, but already it’s caused controversy.
With Steps star Faye Tozer, Blue’s Lee Ryan, daytime prince Dr Ranj Singh and a host of perhaps lesser known stars lined-up for this winter, there has been criticism that producers have appeared to lower the celebrity bar.
But as you’ll see from our ranking of every Strictly series since it began in 2003, there has always been a mix of names. The BBC always seem to get it right, and viewing figures appear to just get bigger and bigger.
Here we look back at all the series that have gone before and rate them for celeb sparkle, talent and scandal.
15. Series 3 (2005)
Two series in and with ratings on the rise, the BBC decided to extend the show’s run and increase the size of its eager cast.
Who was in it? Siobhan Hayes, Jaye Jacobs, Gloria Hunniford, Fiona Phillips, Dennis Taylor, Will Thorp, Bill Turnbull, Patsy Palmer, James Martin, Zoe Ball, Colin Jackson, Darren Gough.
Hot-steppers: While Zoe Ball showed promise on the dance floor, it was sporting stars Colin Jackson and ultimate winner Darren Gough who surprised viewers with their unlikely lightness of foot.
Two left feet: Brendan Cole described his partner Fiona Phillips as “diabolical”. And he wasn’t wrong. Every week it look liked the curly-haired hip-swinger was dragging a mannequin around the floor. She left in ninth place.
Scandals: Er… nah!
Career boost: Zoe Ball took over the presenting gig on new spin off show It Takes Two, after Claudia was brought over to the main show as the scores gal in series 9.
14. Series 4 (2006)
This series saw producers woo a Spice Girl, two soap stars, a comedy legend, a newsreader and many more.
Who was in it? Nicholas Owen, Jimmy Tarbuck, Mica Paris, DJ Spoony, Jan Ravens, Ray Fearon, Peter Schmeichel, Claire King, Carol Smilie, Louisa Lytton, Emma Bunton, Matt Dawson, Mark Ramprakash.
Hot-steppers: Sports men Mark Ramorakash and Matt Dawson were the shock experts on the dance floor, surprisingly leaving Spice Girl Emma Bunton in their dust.
Two left feet: The cast were pretty accomplished on the dancer floor, so no one embarrassed themselves quite as much as Fiona Phillips, Ann Widdecombe or John Sargeant did in their years.
Scandals: Not even a whiff.
Career boost: Still early days so there were few massive career boosts for many, who all carried on as before.
13. Series 2 (2004)
Fresh from the surprise success of the first series, this second season was packed with choristers, TV presenters, risqué comedians and soap stars. Meanwhile, Claudia Winkleman was brought on board to host spin off show It Takes Two!
Who was in it? Quentin Wilson, Carol Vorderman, Esther Rantzen, Diarmuid Gavin, Sarah Manners, Roger Black, Aled Jones, Julian Clary, Denise Lewis, Jill Halfpenny.
Hot-steppers: Julian Clary proved to be a master of the dance floor, while athlete Denise Lewis thrilled crowds with her shapes. But none could compare to the fluid movements and on-point steps of actress Jill Halfpenny, who went on to win the show.
Two left feet: Craig Revel Horwood branded car expert Quentin Wilson as the “worst dancer” he had ever seen. Bruno wasn’t much kinder, adding: “It was like watching a Reliant Robin keeping up with a Ferrari!”
Of course worse was yet to come….
Scandals: Disappointingly very thin on the ground.
Career boost: Jill landed loads of acting roles, as well as a weight-loss DVD. Singer Aled Jones became a firm fixture on the box as a presenter while all the other stars carried on as they were.
12. Series 7 (2009)
This was the controversial series in which Arlene Phillips was sensationally ditched for allegedly being too old and replaced with the much younger series five winner Alesha Dixon.
Who was in it? Martina Hingis, Richard Dunwoody, Rav Wilding, Lynda Bellingham, Joe Calzaghe, Jo Wood, Zoe Lucker, Craig Kelly, Phil Tufnell, Jade Johnson, Ricky Groves, Natalie Cassidy, Laila Rouass, Ali Bastian, Ricky Whittle, Chris Hollins.
Hot-steppers: Eventual winner Chris Hollins surprised viewers with his dandy dance routines, while the sexual chemistry between Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna ensured they made top three (they had a year long relationship after the show). Sexy Ricky Whittle won hearts as he masterfully worked Natalie Lowe across the floor. Swoon!
Two left feet: Natalie Cassidy and Jo Wood weren’t exactly what you’d call whizz kids on the floor…
Scandals: A week into the series, Joe Calzaghe left his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin and embarked on a romance with dance partner Kristina Rihanoff. They then dated for the next four years, splitting in 2013.
Career boost: Ali and Brian teamed up for their own stage show, Ricky Whittle went to Hollywood and breakfast reporter Chris Hollins was offered main presenting roles across the Beeb!
11. Series 6 (2008)
More of the same from the glitter-splattered reality show, featuring more soap stars, pop singers, presenters and even a chef!
Who was in it? Phil Daniels, Gillian Taylforth, Gary Rhodes , Jessie Wallace, Don Warrington, Mark Foster, Andrew Castle, Heather Small, Cherie Lunghi, John Sergeant, Jodie Kidd, Christine Bleakley, Austin Healey, Lisa Snowdon, Rachel Stevens, Tom Chambers.
Hot-steppers: There were lots of pretty nifty movers this year but the top three (Rachel Stevens, Lisa Snowden and Tom Chambers) were the clear stars of the show from the outset.
Two left feet: There were a few dodgy movers, (Jodie Kidd and Gary Rhodes, sadly we’re looking at you) but their inadequacies were brushed aside when John Sergeant took to the floor. Bless him.
Scandals: When he kept getting saved by the public, John gallantly decided to step down from the show so that a more talented star could excel.
“I am sorry to say I have decided to leave Strictly Come Dancing,” he said in a statement: “It was always my intention to have fun on the show and I was hoping to stay in as long as possible. The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.” Amen!
Career boost: Tom Chambers has enjoyed an enduring career in musical theatre, and Christine Bleakley got snapped up by ITV to present their breakfast show.
10. Series 1 (2003)
This is the series that kicked off a TV juggernaut. In this first series, the Beeb, clearly not hopeful about the show’s future, spent about £20 on the set and could only afford a handful of celebs. But it was the series in which Len Goodman sported dark hair and Craig Revel Horwood actually smiled.
Who was in it? Jason Wood, David Dickinson, Verona Joseph, Claire Sweeney, Martin Offiah, Lesley Garrett, Christopher Parker, Natasha Kaplinsky.
Hot-steppers: The scorching heat between Brendan Cole and stiff news reader Natasha Kaplinsky meant that their weekly dances were met with praise by the judges. Natasha was a whiz on the dance floor so it came as no surprise when she was crowned the series winner.
Two left feet: Funnyman Jason Wood’s day job was tickling ribs on the comedy circuit. Sadly for him, his ballroom antics raised just as many titters and he found himself kicked off the show first. David Dickinson was also hilariously useless at anything rhythmic – even walking.
Scandals: It was rumoured that, during the series, Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole might have enjoyed a fling. Both denied that anything romantic had happened between them, but Camilla Dallerup – Brendan’s fiancée at the time – later said that she felt that the dance partners’ close bond brought about the end of her engagement.
“To this day I have no idea whether it was her fame and celebrity that swept him away or if he really did feel a strong connection with her,” Camilla told the Daily Mail back in 2015. “I’m guessing it was probably a bit of both. It felt as if the fact that we’d just got engaged meant nothing to either of them. What was really hurtful was not just that Brendan appeared to have forgotten he was engaged, the entire nation seem to have forgotten he was engaged.”
Natasha has said: “There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.”
Career boost: Kaplinsky’s career took a serious boost and landed a big budget role on Channel 5 news. She also presented the scores part of Strictly in series two for the first five weeks while Tess was on maternity leave.
9. Series 5 (2007)
Then, 14 stars appeared on this series, including the show’s first married couple – Gabby and Kenny Logan.
Who was in it? Brian Capron, Stephanie Beacham, Willie Thorne, Gabby Logan, Dominic Littlewood, Penny Lancaster Stewart, Kate Garraway, John Barnes, Kelly Brook, Kenny Logan, Letitia Dean, Gethin Jones, Matt di Angelo, Alesha Dixon.
Hot-steppers: Once again the fellas proved to be nifty movers on the floor, with Gethin and Matt causing a rather remarkable rumpus on the dance floor with their partners. However it was the astonishing Alesha Dixon who won the hearts of the nation, who then ultimately voted her their winner.
Two left feet: Poor old snooker whizz Willie was as animated as a cue, and Kate Garraway didn’t demonstrate that much rhythm.
Scandals: It was rumoured that pro dancer Flavia ditched Vincent Simone, her long term dancing partner of eight years, for celeb partner Matt di Angelo. However the handsome EastEnders actor later explained: “The funny thing was the story did not start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it and actually act on it.”
Career boost: Penny Lancaster was able to step out of her hubby’s shadow to become a Loose Woman and Alesha Dixon would controversially replace Arlene Phillips in the seventh series as a judge.
8. Series 9 (2011)
Ratings soared as the show entered its ninth season. The final took place in Blackpool and was screened in 3D.
Who was in it? Edwina Currie, Dan Lobb, Rory Bremner, Nancy Dell’Oio, Lulu, Audley Harrison, Russell Grant, Anita Dobson, Robbie Savage, Alex Jones, Holly Valance, Jason Donovan, Chelsee Healey, Harry Judd.
Hot-stepper: Alex Jones, Chelsee Healey and Jason Donovan impressed viewers with their moves but it was McFly’s Harry Judd who proved that, behind that drum kit of his, he’d been hiding some impressive moves.
Two left feet: There were quite a few amateur dancers this year, with Edwina Currie among the worst. But delightful star gazer Russell Grant took the biscuit when he delightfully minced around the stage incredibly out of time. When the show went to Wembley (which replaced Blackpool for a year) Russell was fired out of a cannon to the delight of viewers and Alesha Dixon, who described it as the most sensational opening to a routine she had ever seen.
Scandals: Brendan revealed that he didn’t enjoy working with Lulu.
Career boost: Harry became more of a household name and went on to appear in dance shows, also publishing a book about fitness.
7. Series 13 (2015)
This was the series that saw Kevin Clifton become the first dancer to reach three consecutive finals, and the first time Anton du Beke made it to the final three.
Who was in it? Iwan Thomas, Anthony Ogogo, Daniel O’Donnell, Ainsley Harriet, Kirsty Gallacher, Carol Kirkwood, Jeremy Vine, Jamelia, Peter Andre, Helen George, Anita Rani, Katie Derham, Georgia May Foote, Kellie Bright, Jay Guinness.
Hot-steppers: Corrie‘s Georgia May Foote and ‘Enders‘ Kellie Bright dazzled on the floor, as did Peter Andre, Helen George and Anita Rani. However, it was The Wanted’s Jay who stunned audiences more by demonstrating some very nifty moves indeed, in particular in his Pulp Fiction-inspired jive.
Two left feet: Irish crooner Daniel O’Donnell danced like your uncle, while radio sniper Jeremy Vine slithered awkwardly across the ballroom.
Scandals: Georgia May Foote got together with dance partner Giovanni Pernice.
Meanwhile, Anthony Ogogo criticised the producers for his pairing, telling The Sun: “I didn’t think that the BBC would put us [him and Oti Mabuse] together because we’re black or mixed race. I honestly thought they would spread the minorities around.”
Jamelia also cried “fix” when, in spite of having a higher score, she was booted off the show instead of Peter Andre. “I think we did a great last dance. But it wasn’t until they re-recorded Pete’s standing ovation, I’d say that was the moment we knew we were going home,” she said on It Takes Two.
When he appeared on the same show, Jay Guinness was so moved by a recording of a young boy getting excited about his performance on Strictly that he shocked viewers by saying: “Oh I just want to cut off his hair, his hands and feet and squeeze him… Then I want to put him in a bag and just kick it. So cute!” Er, weird.
Career boost: Jay stuck to dancing and took to the road with Louis Smith and Harry Judd.
6. Series 8 (2010)
The show got bigger with the introduction of a new score room that overlooked the dance floor, so the stars could await the judges’ comments. Claudia Winkleman joined Tess on the results show, giving Bruce the chance to have a breather. Ratings peaked at 14.28m viewers.
Who was in it? Goldie, Paul Daniels, Peter Shilton, Tina O’Brien Jimi Mistry, Michelle Williams, Felicity Kendal, Patsy Kensit, Ann Widdecombe, Gavin Henson, Scott Maslen, Pamela Stephenson Matt Baker, Kara Tointon.
Hot-steppers: Matt Baker turned out to be a sensation on the dance floor, just narrowly missing out on winning the show. Kara Tointon and her partner Artem were crowned, and also got together.
Two left feet: Paul Daniels may have been a wizard performing tricks, but he certainly wasn’t magic on the dance floor, the poor fella. But his lack of rhythmic skills were left in the shade by the atrocious moves demonstrated by politician Ann Widdecombe, who was so bad her poor pro-partner Anton actually dragged her along the floor one week (kinda like a sack of potatoes).
Scandals: Not long after Flavia had split from her previous Strictly partner Matt di Angelo, she found love in the arms of her celeb other-half Jimi Mistry. They became so smitten that they tied the knot a few years later.
Career boost: Kara was the talk of the acting world and became a serious actress.
5. Series 11 (2013)
Who was in it? Tony Jacklin, Vanessa Feltz, Julien Macdonald, Deborah Medean, Rachel Riley, Dave Myers, Fiona Fullerton, Ben Cohen, Mark Benton, Ashley Taylor Dawson, Patrick Robinson, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Natalie Gumede, Susanna Reid, Abbey Clancy.
Hot-steppers: This year the girls took centre stage. Natalie, Sophie, and Susanna all proved to be mistresses of the dance floor, though it was model Abbey Clancy who scooped the title with Aljaz.
Two left feet: It probably would have been more fun watching Hairy Biker Dave Myers trim his beard than watching his painful attempts at keeping in time. Handsome as he was, ex rugger-bugger Ben Cohen failed to impress judges and viewers.
Scandals: While he may not have been a great mover on the dance floor, Kristina would discover what a love machine Ben was when they later hooked up. While it was suggested that the pair had been having it away while Ben was still with his wife, Kristina was adamant that he had left her before they both embarked on their relationship.
Career boost: Abbey Clancy went on to present Next Top Model, Sophie reignited her music career with her folk album Wanderlust while BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna was snapped up by ITV.
4. Series 14 (2016)
This was the series that Len Goodman announced was his last. But in spite of the bad news, it was one filled with great dancing, shock headlines and the most iconic dances yet!
Who was in it? Melvin Odoom, Tameka Empson, Will Young, Naga Munchetty, Anastacia, Laura Whitmore, Lesley Jospeh, Daisy Lowe, Greg Rutherford, Ed Balls, Judge Rinder, Claudia Fragapane, Danny Mac, Louise Redknapp, Ore Oduba.
Hot-steppers: Although Louise Redknapp was a whizz on the floor, it was Hollyoaks‘ Danny Mac and presenter Ore Oduba that tried to out-do one another each and every week. Ore was the eventual victor. Extra points go to Judge Rinder, who revealed a surprise bod underneath his courtroom garb.
Two left feet: Melvin wasn’t exactly a natural dancer, while Ed Balls was also pretty rubbish in spite of that now-iconic performance of Gangnam Style.
Scandals: When Melvin and Tameka were booted off the show early on, heated debate was sparked around whether the voting system had racist undertones. The BBC denied this, of course, and loveable Melvin ended up winning the Christmas special.
Will Young sensationally quit midway through the series, revealing: “It was important for me to leave Strictly for my own wellbeing. It was a number of things. It was nothing to do with the people on the show, and it certainly wasn’t because Len Goodman dissed my salsa – I mean, come on! I love dance, and because of the stuff that was going on personally, I just wasn’t enjoying the dancing.”
Speculation was rife that Louise’s marriage to Jamie Redknapp was over (it was) and there was controversy when Anastacia managed to survive a second week after she failed to dance (due to injury) in the dance-off.
Career boost: Ore landed a semi-regular slot on This Morning as well as other shows, whilst Danny Mac became the star of musical theatre…
3. Series 15 (2017)
Len stepped away from the show and was replaced by the oh-so-elegant Shirley Ballas.
Who was in it? Chizzy Akudolu, Rev Richard Coles, Charlotte Hawkins, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer, Aston Merrygold, Ruth Langsford, Jonnie Peacock, Susan Calman, Davood Ghadami, Mollie King, Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson, Joe McFadden.
Hot-steppers: Gemma, Debbie, Joe and Alexandra had impressive dancing feet but so too did JLS singer Aston. However, viewers were stunned when he was kicked off the show in week six.
Two left feet: Rev Richard’s time on the show didn’t go all that well, while Ruth Langsford’s hubby Eamonn Holmes described her as a dance disaster.
Scandals: Viewers were disappointed to find out that married pros Karen and Kevin Clifton had split, however the pair continued to happily work together on the show.
“Privately we are not together anymore but professionally we are stronger than ever before,” Kevin revealed on Chris Evans’ breakfast show. “Dance is how we came together and is what glues us together. We’re still the best of friends – we still have a lot of love and respect for each other. What we’ve found is that since we’ve been honest with each other it’s unlocked our creativity.”
Karen added: “We have such strong chemistry and it’s about entertaining and inspiring. At the end of the day it’s about giving back to fans. We’re feeling very positive.”
Career boost: Chizzy may have left week one, but she also landed a regular role on Loose Women. Mollie joined Radio 1 as a presenter, and Alexandra released a flop album before returning to musical theatre.
2. Series 12 (2014)
Another magical series starring Mrs Brown’s real life wife, stars of TOWIE and Big Brother, a sporty hunk, an EastEnders heartthrob and a former X Factor presenter.
Who was in it? Gregg Wallace, Jennifer Gibney, Tim Wonnacott, Thomas Evans, Scott Mills, Alison Hammond, Judy Murray, Steve Backshall, Sunetra Sarker, Pixie Lott, Jake Wood, Mark Wright, Frankie Bridge, Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack.
Hot-steppers: Once again there were loads of amazing dance floor dudes and divas – EastEnders‘ Jake Wood turned up with some dazzling moves. Steve Backshall won hearts by sweeping across the floor, while Pixie Lott, Frankie Bridge and eventual winner Caroline Flack were queens of the ballroom.
Two left feet: She might be the mother of two world class tennis players, but trying to get Judy Murray to step in time was like trying to convince the public that the Spice Girls comeback is a good idea.
Scandals: Pretty scandal-free.
Career boost: Frankie found more presenting opps after her stint, which included a Channel 5 show about cyber bullying, whilst Pixie Lott was landed with theatre work.
Former Xtra Factor presenter Caroline Flack’s win made Simon Cowell sit up and take notice; he instantly nabbed her back to ITV to replace Dermot O’Leary on the next series of The X Factor, alongside Olly Murs. Sadly, their shambolic stint was short-lived and the newfound presenting duo were replaced by Dermott again the following year. Mark Wright went on to become a regular telly presenter and later headed Stateside.
1. Series 10 (2012)
Alesha quit Strictly for Britain’s Got Talent and was replaced by ballet dancer Darcey Bussell. The show racked up its highest EVER ratings.
Who was in it? Johnny Ball, Jerry Hall, Sid Owen, Colin Salmon, Fern Britton, Richard Arnold, Victoria Pendleton, Michael Vaughan, Nicky Byrne, Lisa Riley, Dani Harmer, Denise van Outen, Kimberley Walsh, Louis Smith.
Hot-steppers: Controversy raged when it was reported that Kimberley Walsh, Denise Van Outen and Dani Harmer had all had previous dance experience. But although the gals did indeed excel on the dance floor, none could compare to the tantalising gymnastic moves of Olympian Louis Smith who would go on to win the series.
Two left feet: Legendary model Jerry Hall, brekkie star Richard Arnold and maths-geek Johnny Ball might have been experts in their field, but they were as good at throwing rhythmic moves as Theresa May is at resolving this Brexit malarkey.
Scandals: Some viewers cried “FIX” when it was reported that Denise van Outen had been to stage school, where she had been taught many forms of dance.
Career Boost: Van Outen went onto become a more regular fixture on the Loose Women panel as well as the face of Matalan. Lisa Riley also joined the daytime show and became a much talked about star as she continued to lose weight.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to our screens on September 8.
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