03/09/2018 09:32 BST | Updated 03/09/2018 11:07 BST

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ To Feature Same-Sex Professional Dancer Pairings On New Series

Are we getting closer to the contestants being matched with dancers of the same sex?

Strictly Come Dancing’ bosses have committed to featuring same-sex dances again on this year’s series.

Whilst the forthcoming series won’t see any of the contestants dancing with same-sex partners, it will feature the professionals in same-sex routines.

It has been reported that professional dancer AJ Pritchard will dance with Pasha Kovalev as a duo, while Karen Clifton and another female dancer will perform as a pair.

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This year's male professional dancers: (l-r) Anton Du Beke, Neil Jones, Johannes Radebe, Aljaz Skorjanec, Gorka Marquez, AJ Pritchard, Giovanni Pernice, Pasha Kovalev, Graziano Di Prima and Kevin Clifton.

In a new interview with Attitude magazine, AJ reveals that he’s been practising same-sex routines with fellow professional Gorka Marquez ahead of the new series, which kicks off on Saturday night (8 September)

“I did a routine the other day with [fellow pro dancer] Gorka Marquez. It had a paso doble/Argentine tango feel and we were technically dancing it together as a partnership,” AJ told the gay magazine.

He continues: “The strength of having two males dancing — or two females — is unrivalled.

“I’m dancing with Gorka, we’re doing lifts, we’re doing a concept that’s not been done on the show before.”

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AJ Pritchard

A BBC spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “This is not unprecedented, every week some of the world’s top choreographers create stunning routines that showcase the skills of our pro dancers. They can cast and direct the dances however they think best tells the story.”

Last year’s series saw all the male pros dance together in the ‘Run Boy Run’ routine, whilst two years ago, judges Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli paired up to dance to ‘What The World Needs Now’.

The show, which is about to go into its 16th season, has faced repeated calls to feature same sex-couples in recent years.

Dr Ranj Singh, who will be taking to the ‘Strictly’ dance floor this year, has stated that he would love to be paired up with a male professional dancer on the BBC dance show, adding that same-sex pairings is an “incredibly important” issue.

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Dr Ranj Singh has said he'd love to be paired up with a male professional dancer.

He said: “I would love to dance with a same-sex partner. I would value a time when same-sex couples could dance on shows like Strictly. It is incredibly important. We are making progress but I think there is still time to go.”

Judge Craig Revel Horwood agrees, and recently reiterated his opinion that the show should feature same-sex couples.

Talking to BBC News, he said he believes the show will see same sex-couples “eventually”, despite the BBC’s recent claim there are “no plans” in place to introduce pairs made up of two men or two women.

“I think more and more people want it,” he said. “I think it would be rather fun. Maybe the BBC will be brave enough one day to do it.”

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The 'Strictly' judges: (l-r) Bruno Tonioli, Shirley Ballas, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel-Horwood.

Professional dancer Kevin Clifton recently voiced support for the idea on Twitter, saying he’d have no problem dancing with a male partner. Presenter Claudia Winkleman has also backed the idea.

A spokesperson for the show said earlier this month: ”‘Strictly’ has chosen the longstanding ballroom dancing format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples in the competition.”

International editions of ‘Strictly’ have previously included same-sex partnerships, with a male dancing couple reaching the final in this years Italian edition of the show.

Photo gallery 'Strictly' Dream Pairings See Gallery