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Paralympian Ellie Simmonds says it means ‘everything’ to compete in new Strictly Come Dancing series

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds says it means “everything” to compete in the new run of Strictly Come Dancing

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds says it means “everything” to compete in the new run of Strictly Come Dancing.

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds says it means “everything” to compete in the new run of Strictly Come Dancing

The 4ft athlete – and first person with a genetic form of dwarfism called achondroplasia to appear on the BBC ballroom show – made the declaration when it returned to screens on Friday night for its 20th series.

Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie, 27, was paired with professional dancer Nikita Kuzmin, 24, and told host Tess Daly when asked about what it meant to her to be representing people with dwarfism on Strictly: “It means everything, to represent not just dwarfism but disability in general, for me to go out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before.

“Dancing is for all – yes, I’m going to have to adapt, I’m going to have to see what it’s like, but to be out there every Saturday night dancing… I’m so, so proud.”

Nikita said about his partner: “For me, the goal for this season is for Ellie to have the best time of her life.”

The pair spoke during the show’s pre-recorded launch episode, filmed at Elstree studios and aired on BBC One on Friday (23.09.22) at 7pm.

It saw each of the 15 new contestants matched with their pro dance partners, before the show returns on Saturday evening (24.09.22) at 6.45pm.

KISS FM DJ Tyler West was paired with Dianne Buswell, while actress Kym Marsh was matched with Graziano Di Prima.

Actor Will Mellor will dance with Nancy Xu; presenter Helen Skelton with Gorka Márquez, EastEnders actor James Bye with Amy Dowden; singer Fleur East with Vito Coppola; host Hamza Yassin with Jowita Przystal; singer Matt Goss with Nadiya Bychkova; actor Ellie Taylor with Johannes Radebe; CBBC’s Molly Rainford with Carlos Gu; Radio 2 host Richie Anderson with Giovanni Pernice; broadcaster Kaye Adams with Kai Widdrington; former England and Arsenal player Tony Adams with Katya Jones, and actor Jayde Adams with Karen Hauer.

The opening show also saw the return of Tess’ co-host Claudia Winkleman, along with judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke.

The celebrities and professionals performed their first group number to finish the launch show, with John Legend also performing his new single ‘All She Wanna Do’.

The show will air live every Saturday throughout the autumn, with the final usually shown the last…

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