The presenter had an emotional response after the professional dancers performed a special routine to honour Brucie, who died last month at the age of 89.
The pair hosted the first 11 series of the BBC ballroom show together, and as the latest series began, they took time out of proceedings to remember him.
There was a special look back at his highlights from his time on ‘Strictly’, with contributions from Tess and co-host Claudia Winkleman, the show’s professional dancers, as well as judges past and present Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli, Darcey Bussell and Len Goodman.
They pros then took to the floor to perform a waltz to one of his favourite songs, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.
The performance ended on a poignant note, with the dancers turning around to salute a silhouette of Bruce with his trademark pose.
“What a routine, he would have loved that,” Tess said.
With her voice cracking, she continued: “Our thoughts are with his dear wife Winnie, his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren and everyone - and I mean everyone - at ‘Strictly’ is thinking of you.”
Claudia, who was comforting Tess, also said: “He was a legend to so many people, but to us at ‘Strictly’, he was just Brucie, and it was his hard work, dedication and professionalism that helped make this show what it is today.”
Tess added: “To put it in his own words, didn’t he do well.”
A private funeral took place for Bruce earlier this week, with just family and friends in attendance.
A public memorial service for Bruce is currently being planned, and expected to take place in the coming months.
‘Strictly Come Dancing’ continues on Saturday 23 September, as the show goes live and the new pairings take to the floor for the first time.