Tonight a look at the return of the nation’s favourite dance extravaganza Strictly Come Dancing as it foxtrots back onto BBC One for its seventh series.

Also the BBC announce their increased independent production developments for companies outside of London and the futures bright, the future is Shine for one departing UKTV boss.

BBC One Returns To Dance

Once again hosts Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will be guiding viewers through the glamour and the glitz, the tears and the twirls, as an exciting mix of 16 celebrity contestants battle it out to be crowned Strictly Come Dancing Champion 2009.

And this year the UK’s biggest and brightest dancing show is set to be better than ever with two new faces to the judging panel and three new professional dancers. Last year 13 million people watched actor Tom Chambers clinch the winner’s title of Strictly Come Dancing Champion 2008.

After months of speculation – and indeed controversy with the ditching of popular judge Arlene Philips – the BBC is delighted to finally confirm the celebrity contestants hoping to win over viewers with their show stopping dance moves.

The BBC today released the celebrity names for the 2009 series:

Actress Ali Bastian from The Bill, former ATV star of General Hospital and more lately a panelist on ITV’s Loose Women Lynda Bellingham, EastEnders actor Ricky Groves, Craig Kelly from The Grimleys and Coronation Street, former professional tennis competitor Martina Hingis, Phil Tufnell the former cricketer and winner of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity.

Also EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy, television presenter Rav Wilding, BBC Breakfast’s sports presenter Chris Hollins, Footballers’ Wives actress Zoe Lucker, Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle, model Jo Wood, athlete Jade Johnson,boxing champion Joe Calzaghe, actress Laila Rouass and jockey Richard Dunwoody.

Tess Daly says: “The line-up for this series is possibly our strongest yet and I can’t wait to see all our couples together on the dance floor. Bring on the battle of the ballroom!”

This year, for the first time, the series kicks off with shows on both Friday and Saturday nights for the first two weeks. Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One next week.

Perrin Leaves UKTV For Brighter Ideas

Lisa Perrin currently UKTV’s Director of Entertainment is leaving the broadcaster to join independent production company Shine Television – which is owned by Liz Mudoch. Perrin, who currently oversees entertainment on channels such as Dave, Watch and G.O.L.D will take up the position of Creative Entertainment Director at Shine.

Speaking to Broadcast she said: “This was a great opportunity to work with an indie that is currently thriving.”

Before working at UKTV Perrin had held positions at Tiger Aspect Productions, Endemol and the BBC. While at Tiger Aspect her credits, as reality executive, include Streetmate and Make Me A Supermodel she also oversaw the return of Red Dwalf to UKTV earlier this year.

BBC Independent Scheme

The BBC has named 25 successful companies that have gained a place on its XM25 creative network initiative, which aims to provide more programme production opportunities to companies based outside London.

The BBC state that: “The scheme aims to give independent producers in-depth access to BBC Factual and Entertainment commissioning to help them develop network ideas and relationships. The chosen producers will take part in a series of intensive sessions and networking opportunities over the coming year with BBC commissioners and executives from other BBC departments including multiplatform, scheduling and marketing.”

The first session will be held in London in October, with subsequent ones held in other BBC network centres.

BBC Independents Executive, Krishan Arora, who is running XM25, said: “I am delighted with the line-up. We were looking for innovative and creative ideas as well as sound business acumen and we found it in the companies taking part. Being able to offer more places allows us to further increase our relationship with the indie sector outside London and I am looking forward to strengthening those relationships and enabling the focused development of ideas.”

Call us old fashioned, but surely the better option is to just have a good commissioning team? People who upon being issued with production ideas give the contracts to the companies submitting the best ideas – rather than it being down to where a company is based? What happens if a company not in the ‘select 25′ has a great idea…I guess they go to Channel 4?

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