Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas has teased BBC viewers that its opening episode will be a 'must watch' and is full of 'surprises'. 

The head judge of the BBC's Latin and Ballroom competition, 62, told fans that this year's cast has "excelled beyond anything" in the early training sessions.

Speaking on Gaydio radio station, she said: "Well, I think that they haven't done ballroom and Latin and I think they're going to be surprised when they suddenly have to dance in close proximity in a ballroom frame, let's say doing the waltz or the Viennese waltz.

"And you've got to get this technique down in a short space of time. We've got some fabulous movers on there who've never taken any dancing.

Judges Shirley BallasAnton Du BekeCraig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse are set to return as the show will once again be broadcast from Elstree Film and Television Studios.

"So I think this is a phenomenal class I never do this but I will say this to the LGBTQ community, I am fan-girling I am. The whole cast this year has excelled beyond anything."

The details come as the broadcaster confirms the full 2023 line up which includes the likes of TV legend Les Dennis, Waterloo Road star Adam Thomas, and former Love Island contestant Zara McDermott.

There is also reportedly a 'battle' between the Strictly professional dancers for two of the contestants but the pairings are yet to be announced.

Shirley Ballas will be joined by her fellow judges on the panel including Craig Revel Horwood, Anton DuBeke, and Motsi Mabuse for the 21st series.

Ballas went on to tell listeners that they "must watch" the opening episode - which will be broadcast live for the first time - because it will be of full of "surprises".

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She said: "I can tell you all first time, you must watch the opening show because there are surprises.

"That's as far as I can tell you but the opening show is definitely going to be a watch."

West End star Layton Williams will become the first-ever male participant to dance in a dress and at the age of 78, presenter Angela Rippon is the oldest celebrity to take part in the series in its near-20-year history.

They will join the likes of former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach, EastEnders actor Nigel Harman, and tennis legend Annabel Croft amongst a host of others, all hoping to lift the Glitterball Trophy.

This is the Strictly Come Dancing 2023 line-up

  • Sherlock and Mr Selfridge actress Amanda Abbington
  • Former newsreader Angela Rippon
  • Stage and screen star Layton Williams
  • Channel 4 journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy
  • Comedian Eddie Kadi
  • Irish presenter Angela Scanlon
  • Love Island’s Zara McDermott
  • Emmerdale and Waterloo Road actor Adam Thomas
  • BBC radio presenter Nikita Kanda
  • Coronation Street's Ellie Leach
  • Paralympic Champion Jody Cundy CBE
  • EastEnders star Bobby Brazier
  • Casualty star Nigel Harman
  • British tennis player Annabel Croft
  • Family Fortunes host Les Dennis

When does Strictly Come Dancing return?

The opening show - which will be broadcast live for the first time - is due to on Saturday, September 23.

Strictly looks set to run until December 16 with a ticket ballot for the live audience available on the BBC website until Tuesday, September 5.

The show will once again come live from Elstree Film and Television Studios, with a one-off special from Blackpool Tower Ballroom. 

Strictly will once again be hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman. 

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One and BBC iPlayer for its new series on Saturday, September 23.