Come Dancing

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Come Dancing
GenreBallroom dancing talent show
Created byEric Morley
Presented by
Narrated by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes424
Production locationMecca ballrooms (original filming locations)
Production companyBritish Broadcasting Corporation
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release29 September 1950 (1950-09-29)[1] –
29 December 1998 (1998-12-29)

Come Dancing was a British ballroom dancing competition show made by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which aired on BBC One at various intervals from 1950[2][3][4] to 1998.[2] Unlike its subsequent follow-up show, Strictly Come Dancing, contestants were neither celebrities nor professionals.[5]

The show was created by Eric Morley, the founder of Miss World,[5] in 1949,[6] and began by broadcasting from regional ballroom studios owned by Mecca, with professional dancers Syd Perkin and Edna Duffield on hand to offer teaching.[6] Its original format was based on a knock-out process of teams from various regions around the UK, such as East Anglia or the South West.[2][5] In 1953, the format changed to become a competition, with dancers representing the home nations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), with later series seeing regions of the United Kingdom going head to head for its coveted trophy.[6]


In 1950, Come Dancing joined Television Dancing Club, and the two programmes ran on alternate weeks until 1964, when the latter finished.[7] At its peak, in the late 1960s and 1970s, it attracted audiences of ten million.[3] The last regular series was aired in 1995[3][4] (with no series in 1982 or 1987); this was followed by International Come Dancing specials in 1996 and 1998. The final episode, a 50th anniversary special, was presented by Rosemarie Ford and broadcast on BBC One from the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 December 1998.[2][8]

In 2023, BBC Four began repeating episodes of the show from the 1970s.


The first presenter in 1950 was Peter Dimmock,[2][5][6] and was assisted by Leslie Mitchell as its master of ceremonies.[2] Many subsequent presenters over the years included Sylvia Peters,[5][6] Peter West (1957 to 1972),[5][6][9] McDonald Hobley,[6] Charles Nove,[10] Terry Wogan,[2][3][5][6] Brian Johnston,[5][6] Peter Marshall,[5] Angela Rippon,[2][3][5][6][11] Frank Bough,[3] Michael Aspel,[5][6][12] David Jacobs,[2][5][6] Judith Chalmers,[2][3][5][6] Pete Murray[5][13] and Rosemarie Ford.[2][5][6] Commentators included Ray Moore,[citation needed] Bruce Hammal,[citation needed] and Charles Nove.[10]


Inspired by the resurgence in ballroom dancing in the UK following the 1992 Australian film Strictly Ballroom, a relaunched celebrity version entitled Strictly Come Dancing (affectionately known simply as Strictly)[2] debuted on BBC One in 2004, and became a major success with Saturday evening audiences.[5] Strictly paired a professional dancer together with a celebrity partner,[2] and was originally hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly, assisted by Claudia Winkleman. In later years, Claudia Winkleman was promoted to full time host in 2014 after Forsyth's departure. The title is an amalgamation of the titles of Come Dancing and the film Strictly Ballroom. The format of the newer show has become an international success,[2][5] having been successfully exported to many other countries as Dancing with the Stars or similar names in local languages.


  1. ^ "History of the BBC – First episode of Come Dancing – 29 September 1950". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "History of the BBC – First episode of Come Dancing – 29 September 1950". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Come Dancing waltzes back". The Bolton News. Newsquest Media Group. 24 October 2003. Archived from the original on 5 September 2022. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  4. ^ a b Nott, James J. (2015). Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918–1960. Oxford University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-19-960519-4 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Come Dancing – 1950–1998 (UK)". Nostalgia Central. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Come Dancing (1949–1998)". British Broadcasting Corporation. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  7. ^ "History of the BBC – Television Dancing Club – 27 January 1948". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  8. ^ "BBC Programme Index – Come Dancing 50". Radio Times. British Broadcasting Corporation. 29 December 1998 [first published 19 December 1998]. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  9. ^ Foot, David (3 September 2003). "Obituary: Peter West – Sports commentator and Come Dancing compere". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  10. ^ a b "BBC - Radio 2 - Presenters - Charles Nove". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  11. ^ Freestyle Dance Videos (4 January 2017). Come Dancing 1989 hosted by Angela Rippon (video). BBC Television. Retrieved 2 November 2023 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "Michael Aspel: 'I'm just not a happy person'". The Independent. 24 May 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  13. ^ "History of the BBC, Actor, DJ, Come Dancing presenter – Pete Murray did it all". British Broadcasting Corporation. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2023.

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