★★★★★

This is a smasher of a show and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Liberated from the need to nurse the fragile egos of celebrities with two left feet, ten of Strictly’s favourite professional partners take centre stage to strut their stuff in a series of ensembles, duet and solos that display the very highest level of ballroom artistry. It’s two hours of pure joy. Although there are no judges or scores here, and much less of the razzmatazz and blather that pumps up the TV series, this is still an eyeful of a spectacle, with dazzling costumes and lighting effects. Every performer also gets a chance to tell us a bit about themselves, with footage of some of their best on-screen moments. What really matters, though, is the superb quality of the dancing, crisply directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison and featuring a medley of numbers from classic musicals and a tribute to Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, as well as plenty of Latin and jazz. The ten of them dance so seamlessly as a team that it seems invidious to pick out individuals. Everyone has their favourites, of course: the ladies fall for Gorka Marquez, the kids scream for AJ Pritchard (left), and dads give Karen Clifton and Oti Mabuse the glad eye. Dianne Buswell (far left), Nadiya Bychkova, Giovanni Pernice and Neil and Katya Jones were popular too. But everyone acclaimed Pasha Kovalev, who is leaving the show after eight years.

Rupert Christiansen