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image captionNicola Adams and Katya Jones during the launch show of Strictly 2020

Nicola Adams has made Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the first celebrity to perform in a same-sex pairing after being partnered with professional dancer Katya Jones.

The Olympic gold medallist and former boxer joined 11 other celebrity contestants for the launch of Strictly.

Ms Adams and Ms Jones took to the stage together for the first time to perform in a group routine.

The pandemic has meant the popular dancing show has a new look this year.

Each couple has formed a bubble to limit contact with other people, and in the studio celebrities and their partners performed in front of a socially distanced audience.

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image captionClaudia Winkleman and Tess Daly returned as hosts of Strictly this year, but stayed 2m apart

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image captionStrictly judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse

Speaking of the show’s historic pairing, Ms Jones said: “I think the beauty of this partnership is it’s never been done before on Strictly so basically we are free to do what we want, there’s no real rules.”

The decision to include a same-sex couple in the competition follows a one-off routine from last year’s series that saw two male professionals dance together.

Last month, the BBC defended the decision to have a same-sex pairing following complaints from some viewers.

The corporation said the show was “inclusive” and that it was “happy to facilitate” Ms Adams’ request to dance with a woman.

YouTube star HRVY, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, tested positive for coronavirus 10 days before the launch show was due to be filmed.

He isolated with his family in the run up to the show and has been coupled with Janette Manrara.

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image captionJamie Lang, pictured with his professional partner Karen Hauer, pulled out of the show last year following a foot injury

This year sees the return of Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing, who had to bow out of last year’s series before it even began after injuring his foot. He will dance with Karen Hauer.

Other pairings announced during the launch show were:

  • Actress Caroline Quentin and dancer Johannes Radebe
  • BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo with Aljaz Skorjanec
  • TV presenter Ranvir Singh with Giovanni Pernice
  • Former American football player Jason Bell with Luba Mushtuk
  • EastEnders actress Maisie Smith with Gorka Marquez
  • TV presenter JJ Chalmers with Amy Dowden
  • Former home secretary Jacqui Smith with Anton Du Beke
  • Comedian Bill Bailey with Oti Mabuse
  • Former Wanted singer Max George with Dianne Buswell

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image captionCaroline Quentin with Johannes Radebe

Saturday’s programme welcomed back hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman and judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas.

Fourth judge Bruno Tonioli, who is also a judge on the show’s US version, Dancing with the Stars, is set to miss some of the early live shows.

The launch show also featured a socially distanced performance from last year’s winners actor Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse.

How will Strictly work this year?

Each pair of dancers will form a “close contact cohort”, which can be used in the TV industry by people who need to work closely together and break social distancing rules in order to do their job. They must be regularly tested.

Each Strictly celebrity will also be in an exclusive support bubble with their partner. That means one half of the couple will have to live alone for the duration of their involvement in the series. This could be either the celebrity or the professional dancer.

There will not be Blackpool or Halloween episodes this year.