And, in an attempt to ramp up the hype, several big-name artists, such as the notoriously unreliable Amy Winehouse, are being lined up for grandstand appearances.
However, the truly divisive issue at the heart of this malaise is ageism and a sense that the BBC top brass have shown no loyalty to those who helped turn Strictly into such a phenomenon.
No agency has more than three clients taking part this year. While the BBC's publicists feign astonishment that anyone might question the selection, backstage sources say the lack of big names is not for want of trying.
A raft of far more famous names were sounded out about appearing on Strictly, only to be put off by budget cuts and a widespread feeling that the show might have peaked after six hugely successful series.
'First, they can't afford her, and second, things are really taking off for her in the U.
S., so she hasn't got time,' says a member of her inner circle.For a man with the job of winning over the Press with his wit and charm, Bruce Forsyth had a funny way of going about it.At the grand launch of this year's series of Strictly Come Dancing, in the splendid surroundings of London's Bloomsbury Ballroom, the 81-year-old showbiz veteran took just five seconds to stray from the task in hand.Any one of these names would have transformed the appeal of the show at a stroke.Sharon Osbourne ended discussions after one speculative phone call.But when Ali Bastian stepped from the shadows, to a collective murmur of bafflement from the Press, Brucie's easy flow of banter juddered to a halt. This week, memos have been flying back and forth between BBC executives and the Strictly team, with no one left in any doubt that the show simply has to be a roaring success.Such is the desperation to please BBC1 Controller Jay Hunt that the production staff will go to any lengths.The show is the hot topic of conversation in homes and workplaces across the country, and its cross-generational appeal is such that the public feels a degree of ownership.It is this popularity, rivalled only by Simon Cowell's showbiz juggernauts Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, which attracts BBC executives like bees around a honeypot. While The X Factor producers limited their interference this year to introducing live audiences at the audition stage (one element of Simon Cowell's dictatorship is that he can over-rule the suits at ITV), Strictly Come Dancing has endured a dizzying array of changes.'The problem is that the more successful it has become, the more interference there is from senior executives, who want to take credit for a hit show.So they change things for the sake of it and they don't care who they hurt in the process. Then they dumped Karen Hardy and said it had nothing to do with the fact she was the oldest dancer. What effect do you think this sort of behaviour has on morale?