This year’s Strictly Come Dancing couples will take to the dance floor for the first time tonight as the live competition finally kicks off.

After two weeks of intense training, they will don their sparkling outfits and dancing shoes as they begin the battle to claim the coveted glitterball trophy.

The BBC 1 contest’s hotly-anticipated 15th season will welcome a fresh batch of 15 celebrity contestants, three new professional dancers and former international Latin star Shirley Ballas, who will make her debut as head judge following Len Goodman’s departure last year.

Strictly Come DancingThis year’s fabulous Strictly judges (Ray Burmiston/BBC/PA)

Strictly also made headlines last month with the sad news of the death of former show host, Sir Bruce Forsyth.

But there have been few other changes to the much-loved show, and fans will tune in on Saturday to see panel members Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli return to their judging seats, while Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly reprise their roles as presenters.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2017 – LondonClaudia Winkleman (left) and Tess Daly (Matt Crossick/PA)

While the couples will present their first dances to the nation this weekend, there will be no eliminations until next week.

Female contestants putting their best foot forward for this year’s contest include singers Alexandra Burke and Mollie King, and actresses Chizzy Akudolu and Gemma Atkinson.

Strictly Come DancingRuth Langsford with partner Anton Du Beke (BBC)

Presenters Charlotte Hawkins, Ruth Langsford and Debbie McGee will also be taking to the stage, as well as comedian Susan Calman.

Strictly Come DancingDebbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice (BBC)

Among the men are soap stars Davood Ghadami and Joe McFadden, and Paralympian Jonnie Peacock.

Also discovering their glittery side are singer Aston Merrygold, Rev Richard Coles and familiar television faces Brian Conley and Simon Rimmer.

Strictly Come DancingAston Merrygold and Janette Manrara (BBC)

The first stage of the official competition comes two weeks after the spectacular live launch show, which saw the stars matched up with their partners for the first time.

Strictly Come DancingDavood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova (BBC)

It also featured a moving tribute to Sir Bruce and the return of last year’s champions Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton who delighted the audience with a repeat of their famous jive dance.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC 1 at 6.25pm on Saturday.