Stars of Strictly Come Dancing have paid an emotional tribute to former co-host Sir Bruce Forsyth at the start of this year’s series.
Sir Bruce, who died in August aged 89, had a showbiz career that lasted 75 years – 10 of them on Strictly.
The tribute started with a collection of Sir Bruce’s best moments and people’s favourite memories.
The professional dancers then performed a traditional ballroom routine to “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra.
The outline of Sir Bruce’s fist-to-face pose was in the background, and the dancers adopted it as a last nod to the entertainer.
A tearful Tess Daly, who co-hosted the show alongside Sir Bruce from 2004, said that everyone working on Strictly “missed him dearly”.
She fondly remembered his attempts to steady her nerves before the first show in 2004.
Clips of Sir Bruce insisting various contestants were his “favourite” showed his comedic side. The show described him as “Strictly family”.
One of the judges, Bruno Tonioli, said Sir Bruce “always had time for everyone”, adding “he’ll never be forgotten”.
“That first show, I was sitting in my little dressing room and there was a knock at the door,” recalled Len Goodman, a previous head judge.
“And he said: ‘Len, I just wanted to say, I hope you have a lovely show’.
“And there I am, little old Len, the dance teacher from Dartford, sitting and chatting with Bruce Forsyth.”
Strictly was Sir Bruce’s final television role, yet he managed to coin a new, enduring catchphrase – always encouraging the audience to “Keep dancing!”
Craig Revel Horwood, another judge, described him simply as an “inspiration”.
Dancer Anton Du Beke said he “couldn’t tell you how that feels”, describing the moment Sir Bruce asked him to choreograph his entrance with Tess Daly.
The first show of the new series also saw the celebrity contestants matched with their professional partners.
This year’s famous faces include singer Alexandra Burke, Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins, and Jonnie Peacock, the Paralympic gold medallist.
The long-standing judging panel of Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Tonioli have been joined by a new head judge, following Len Goodman’s departure.
Shirley Ballas, a former award-winning dancer, is known as the “queen of Latin”.