It was 11 years ago that JJ Chalmers started learning to waltz.
The Royal Marine was on tour in Afghanistan when he began practising his steps, keen to impress his girlfriend with his footwork at his brother’s forthcoming wedding.
But then he was horrifically maimed by a bomb in 2011, needing 30 operations to repair injuries such as a broken neck and burst eardrums.
And so it was only on Saturday night that he was finally able to show his girlfriend – now his wife – and their little daughter his moves.
JJ Chalmer’s wife Korenelia Chitursko and daughter Hayley, four, in the video
Chalmers, who was horrifically maimed by a bomb in 2011 and needed 30 operations to repair his injuries, with Amy Dowden on Saturday
He won their praise and that of the judges with his waltz with dance partner Amy Dowden on Strictly Come Dancing.
Chalmers, now a TV presenter, was left struggling with his emotions after he was played a video message from his wife Kornelia Chitursko and daughter Hayley, four, after his performance on Saturday night’s show.
His wife told him: ‘Hi JJ, we’re so thrilled for you. You are making us very, very proud. I can’t wait to waltz with you one day.’
And Hayley added: ‘Hi daddy, I like your dancing so much. I love you.’
Other memorable scenes included Caroline Quentin’s first dance, the American smooth, with partner Johannes Radebe.
The former Men Behaving Badly actress, 60, cried tears of happiness after judge Motsi Mabuse told her she was ‘a dancing queen’.
A bumper audience of ten million tuned in to the opening episode, a 44.6 per cent share of the audience.
Strictly’s first same-sex couple, Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, received high marks from the judging panel
Former Men Behaving Badly actress, 60, cried tears of happiness after judge Motsi Mabuse told her she was ‘a dancing queen’
Despite the show being overhauled for the Covid-19 pandemic, with less of an atmosphere in the studio, viewers seem to have been desperate to reunite themselves with the programme for the light relief offered from the pandemic.
The live episode averaged 9.3million viewers and peaked at 10.1million.
It is thought to be Strictly’s highest-rating live opening show for a number of years – last year’s equivalent figure was 7.7million.
The programme featured Strictly’s first same-sex couple, Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, who received high marks from the judging panel for their quickstep.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood said the dance was ‘absolute dynamite’ while head judge Shirley Ballas said Miss Jones’s choreography was ‘genius’.
Following the first week’s action singer and presenter Harvey Cantwell, better known as HRVY, has become the early favourite to win.
Judge Miss Mabuse described the 21-year-old’s performance with Janette Manrara as ‘the best first dance I have ever seen’.
But former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith, paired with Anton Du Beke for a foxtrot, found herself at the bottom of the leader board and is tipped by the bookmakers to be the first to go.
Strictly returned on BBC1 with a thank you to NHS frontline workers, who were invited to be in the audience at a social distance.
Judge Bruno Tonioli made a short appearance on video, from the US, and will return to the show later in the series.
A celebrity will not be voted out until next week.