BBC announces surprise Strictly Come Dancing episode on show’s 20th anniversary SuperNayr

On this day two decades ago, a Saturday night telly behemoth was born as Strictly Come Dancing cha-cha-cha’d onto our screens.

When the show first aired on 15 May 2004, Tess Daly and the late Sir Bruce Forsyth presented the show together, with Len Goodman, Dame Arlene Phillips, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli all in the original judges’ chairs. The programme saw in 20 years of glitz, glamour and shimmying.

The BBC has announced that it will air a special 20th anniversary episode on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year, which will tell the story of the show’s beginning, through the past 20 years of entertainment and celebrated performances.

The broadcaster has said the programme will showcase why Strictly Come Dancing has captured the hearts of the nation for the past 20 years as one of the BBC’s best loved shows.

The most recent series held Strictly’s place as the BBC’s biggest Entertainment title with an average of 9 million viewers tuning into the main show, achieving 46.5 million iPlayer Hours in 2023, which was an increase of 5.4 million from 2022.

Keep Dancing: Original ‘Strictly’ presenters, Tess Daly and the late Bruce Forsyth (Getty Images)

It comes as the TV show was victorious at the Bafta TV awards on Sunday night (12 May), with presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman taking home the Entertainment prize.

Just days before, Craig Revel Horwood, who is known for his scathing criticism as Strictly’s longest-serving judge, said that the competition was “too late” to introduce same-sex dance partner pairings.

‘Strictly’ presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman at the Bafta TV awards (Getty Images)

A number of same-sex pairings have been featured on the competition, including last year’s runners-up, Celebrity Big Brother finalist Nikita Kuzmin and musical theatre star Layton Williams. Former boxer Nicola Adams and dancer Katya Jones were the first same-sex pairing on the show’s 2020 series.

“I think we did it one year too late,” he told the Radio Times. “I wish we’d been braver sooner, but we’re there now.”

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He commented on the prospect of backlash, adding: “Viewers are more open-minded than we give them credit for. Some people will kick up a stink initially, then suddenly they’re fine with it, and that’s how we change the world – from the persecution of gay men to two men dancing on national television.”

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin dancing on the 2023 series (BBC/Guy Levy)

Kalpna Patel-Knight, Head of Entertainment at the BBC, said of the show’s anniversary: “Strictly Come Dancing is more than just a TV show, it has become an integral part of British culture, bringing families together and inspiring viewers of all ages to embrace the joy of dance.”

“Throughout its 20-year history, the show has launched careers, sparked trends, and touched the hearts of millions with its dazzling performances, emotional journeys, and unforgettable moments and we will be showcasing it all in this very special programme.”

Craig Revel Horwood and late head judge Len Goodman pictured in 2008 (Getty Images)

Suzy Lamb, Managing Director, BBC Studios Entertainment, said: “From glittering ballroom numbers to high-energy Latin routines, the show continues to push the boundaries of dance and entertainment and we want viewers to join us in raising a toast to 20 years of sparkle and shine in the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom.”

The BBC is expected to share an air date for the anniversary episode in due course.

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