AS millions around the country watched 15 new celebrities take to the dancefloor this weekend, some may have been inspired to give it a try.

The 19th series of Strictly Come Dancing officially started on Saturday after the initial live show, with actors, athletes and entrepreneurs all showing off their new skills in front of the judges. Although viewing figures are down from last year, around 7 million people still tuned in at the weekend.

With the show continuing to be a staple of Saturday night television, dance classes in Carlisle continue to see an increased interest in participants. Maz Burgess, who runs Let’s Dance Cumbria with her partner John Johnston, acknowledges that each year the number of queries continue to rise.

Discussing how Strictly affects the number of people in her classes, Maz said: “We’ve had our dance studio for what’s coming up to be 10 years now. Each year, when Strictly arrives, it does have a very good effect for us.”

Of course, the following 18 months has had a part to play in recent classes. Maz continued: “I’m presuming that people may still feel a bit reluctant about being in a room, close to other people and exercising due to Covid.

“We have had enquires and new people join, however. We always start new, beginner classes for ballroom and Latin around the start of September to coincide with the start of a new series. Sometimes, Strictly can be two or three weeks in before we get a good response, so it may still be early to say whether it has had any effect this year.”

The BBC One series began back in 2004 and Maz believes that the way dancing is perceived has to be altered for the show to keep audiences entertained. When asked why she thought the show continues to be so popular, Ms Burgess answered: “When the show started it was just based on ballroom and Latin dancing. As the show has progressed there isn’t a lot of content included in the routines. I think they’re wanting to reach out further than people that would just be interested in ballroom dancing.

“They need to have more power behind the show to keep people interested. They play popular music that young viewers can associate with. It is mainly an entertainment show, as well as the dances there are the judges with their own personalities, the two hosts who the public admire and Dave Archer’s orchestra who are fantastic.”