The actress, 49, described the dancer, 33, as being like ‘a little brother’ in the pre-recorded VT saying she ‘already loves him’, before going on to admit she hadn’t picked things up ‘as quickly as she wanted to’ during rehearsals.
The first live show saw all 15 couples perform for the first time with Nigel Harmon and Katya Jones on top of the leaderboard with 32 points and Les Dennis and his partner Nancy Xu at the bottom with a disappointing 16.
Earlier on Saturday Amanda shared a video to Instagram where she rubbished the rumours of clashes with Giovanni in a foul-mouthed rant.
It follows claims she was ‘left shaken’ by his ‘militant and aggressive’ training style with tensions escalating between the pair.
What feud? Strictly’s Amanda Abbington, 49, once again batted away reports of a feud with pro partner Giovanni Pernice, 33, as they took the dance floor for the show’s first live episode on Saturday
Happy as Larry: The actress described the dancer as being like ‘a little brother’ in the pre-recorded VT saying she ‘already loves him’, before going on to admit she hadn’t picked things up ‘as quickly as she wanted to’ during rehearsals
Starting strong: The first live show saw all 15 couples perform for the first time with Nigel Harmon and Katya Jones (pictured) on top of the leaderboard with 32 points
But Amanda hit back saying she was ‘ignoring the bulls***’ as she insisted things are all good between her and Giovanni.
The duo then took to the floor as they performed an elegant Viennese waltz to to Pointless by Lewis Capaldi, which earned a respectable 29 points from the judges.
Shirley said: ‘Your fluidity, your sensitivity, your beautiful styling, you have this beautiful chemistry, I loved it.’
Anton advised Amanda to relax a little, saying: ‘It was all great, emotionally exquisite. I want you to breath, if there was another 30 seconds to go I think you may have passed out.’
The actress was supported from the audience by fiancé Jonathan Goodwin and 17-year-old son Joe, whom she shares with ex-partner Martin Freeman.
Jonathan was paralysed for life in a tragic accident in October 2021, following a stunt where he attempted to escape from a straight jacket while being hung upside down 30 feet in the air.
Former EastEnders actor Nigel, 50, emerged as an early favourite to win show and was proclaimed by judge Shirley Ballas as ‘the one to beat’ after he performed an outstanding pasodoble with dance partner Katya Jones.
The Casualty star danced to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and received universal praise from all four judges and received a score of 32 out of 40.
Gutted: Meanwhile Les Dennis landed in the bottom with a disappointing 16 points (pictured with pro partner Nancy Xu)
Well done! The actress was supported from the audience by fiancé Jonathan Goodwin (R) and 17-year-old son Joe (L) whom she shares with ex-partner Martin Freeman
No sign of trouble: Despite the rumours the pair appeared at ease with Giovanni resting his hand on Amanda’s shoulder as they listened to the judge’s feedback
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones – Paso Doble to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana – 32 points out of 40
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin – Samba to Touch by Little Mix – 29 points out of 40
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola – Jive to Can’t Tame Her by Zara Larsson – 29 points out of 40
Bobby Brazier and Diane Buswell – Foxtrot to All About You by McFly – 29 points out of 40
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice – Viennese Waltz to Pointless by Lewis Capaldi – 29 points out of 40
Angela Rippon Kai Wrrington – Cha Cha to Get The Party Started by Shirley Bassey – 28 points out of 40
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe – Cha Cha to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel – 28 points out of 40
Angela Scanlan and Carlos Gu – Tango to Prisoner by Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa – 23 points out of 40
Eddie Kadi and Karen – Quickstep to Two Hearts by Phil Collins – 22 points out of 40
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley – Cha Cha to Boom Shack A Lack by Apache Indian – 22 points out of 40
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał – Quickstep to I’m On Top Of The World by Bobby Darin – 21 points out of 40
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk – Cha Cha to Waffle House by Jonas Brothers – 19 points out of 40
Zara McDermott and Graziano Dr Prima – Cha Cha to Crush by Jennifer Page – 19 points out of 40
Nikita Kanda and Gorka Marquez – Waltz to Run To You by Whitney Houston – 18 points out of 40
Les Dennis and Nancy Xu – Tango to Don’t You Want Me by Human League – 16 points out of 40
Anton Du Beke also praised the actor and reminded the audience it’s not easy for the star who has to close the show.
Viewers took to X/Twitter to praise Nigel for his performance with one writing: ‘Nigel was amazing! I could just watch that Paso over and over again.’
Another added: ‘That was extraordinary. Nigel Harman’s performance was amazing. Katya Jones is an incredible choreographer.’
A third wrote: ‘Nigel needs to be in the final right now,’ while a fourth said: ‘Top of the leaderboard and definitely worth the wait.’
Scores: All four judges were back to critique the celebs (L-R) Craig rRevel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke
Contender: Nigel emerged as an early favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing as he topped the leaderboard during week one
Flawless: The actor, 50, was proclaimed by judge Shirley Ballas as ‘the one to beat’ after he performed an outstanding pasodoble with dance partner Katya Jones
Love: Meanwhile viewers flooded social media with well-wishes for pro Amy Dowden after she made a surprise appearance in the live show on Saturday
Get ready! All 15 couples perfromed however nobody went home during the very first live show
Another viewer added: ‘I wasn’t expecting that! Brilliant!’
Earlier in the episode fans flooded Amy Dowden with support after she was absent from the show as she currently undergoes chemotherapy treatment amid her battle with breast cancer.
Yet the Welsh dragon is still very much part of the Strictly family as fans spotted her in the 2023 titles which introduces all the couples at the start of every show alongside the recognisable theme music.
And fans have now flocked to share their support with the star as they headed to Twitter to send her their well wishes.
One fan wrote: ‘God bless you Amy. you are missed this year . Get well, we want you better and back to your lovely self’.
Another commented: ‘Sad that Amy Dowden can’t be on this series of #Strictly – she was always one of my faves and will be again! Good luck to her.’
While Amy attended the National Television Awards with her Strictly co-stars she was unable to attend the launch show episode which aired last week.
And as Amy sent her good luck’s to the Strictly contestants, fans sent their love to the star.
‘She is such a lovely lady with a heart of hold. You can beat this Amy,’ added another viewer.
Skills: Angela Rippon showcased her incredible flexibility as she stretched her leg over head head during her first perfomance
Wow: The broadcaster, who has made history the show’s oldest ever contestant, took to the floor with pro partner Kai Widdrington , 28, for a very engertic Cha Cha
Sensational: Angela looked sensational in silver fringe mini dress as she performed to Shirley Bassey ‘s cover of Pink’s Get The Party Started before kicking her partner lifted her leg for the dramatic finale
Seeing double: Layton Williams (L) and Nikita Kuzmin (R) set the dance floor alight with their sequin clad Samba
High score? Former Tennis champ Annabel Croft returned to the court for a sports themed routine with partner Johannes Radebe
Well done! Corrie’s Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola scored an impressive 29 points for their jive
Hot stuff: Later in the show Zara McDermott looked nothing short of sensational as she took to the glitzy dance floor for the first time (pictured with pro partner Graziano Di Prima)
Flying the flag: She was supported from the sidelines by boyfriend Sam Thompson, 31 (R) and his pal and former TOWIE star Pete Wicks, 35 (L) who both donned shirts with Zara’s face
Gutted: The judges disagreed over the performance which eventually scored a disappointing 19 points
Gutted: The judges disagreed over the performance which eventually scored a disappointing 19 points
While a fourth sent ‘Thinking of you #AmyDowden loads of love and prayers xx’.
Yet Amy may be back earlier than we may have thought, after the star shared her hopes of returning to Strictly Come Dancing in a matter of weeks.
The dancer took to Instagram on Saturday to wish her fellow professionals and the celebrity line-up luck for Saturday’s first live show of the 2023 series.
And Angela Rippon showcased her incredible flexibility as she stretched her leg over head head during her first perfomance.
Angela looked sensational in silver fringe mini dress as she performed to Shirley Bassey‘s cover of Pink’s Get The Party Started before kicking her partner lifted her leg for the dramatic finale.
With the duo impressing the duos scoring 28 for their perfomance which saw them briefly at the top of the leader board.
Taking to Twitter one fan said: ‘I need some tips off Angela Rippon. I’d love to dance like she does and I’m literally half her age!’.
Later in the show Zara McDermott looked nothing short of sensational as she took to the glitzy dance floor for the first time.
The Love Island star, 26, sent temperatures soaring in a sparkly white mini dress which featured racy cut outs and showcased her gorgeous figure in all it’s glory.
Her dress boasted a ruffle skirt and metallic applique for the sexy cha cha with pro partner Graziano Di Prima, 29.
The judges disagreed over the performance which eventually scored a disappointing 19 points.
Craig Revel Horwood said: ‘It was a bit ploddy and wooden, but I can see the intention was there.’
Emotional: Also out to impress was Bobby Brazier who gave an emotional performance as he hit the ballroom with partner Dianne Buswell
Overwhelmed: And it seems the routine pulled at the heartstrings as Bobby’s dad Jeff Brazier shed a tear by the end of the performance
Amazing: The EastEnders actor performed a foxtrot with the red head as they swept across the dancefloor to All About You by McFly
Lady in red: Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu performed a sizzling tango
But Shirley Ballas was having none of it and added: ‘Don’t listen to Craig, I don’t think he’s had his dinner darling, you were lovely.’
The EastEnders actor, 20, performed a spellbinding foxtrot with the red head as they swept across the dancefloor to All About You by McFly.
And it seems the routine pulled at the heartstrings as Bobby’s dad Jeff Brazier shed a tear by the end of the performance.
As he stood to receive the judges comments, Tess pointed to the father in the audience who was visibly overcome with emotion after watching his eldest son.
Moves: Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer pictured
Strutting their stuff: Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal (L) showcased their moves alongside Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley (R)
Sorry: Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk cha cha scored a disappointing 19 out of 40
The Big Brother star passed away at just 27 years old, leaving behind Bobby and Freddie who were just four and five-years old at the time.
The pair kept it classy as they ditched the glamorous dresses for more androgynous looks while taking to the stage during the BBC show.
Tess accentuated her height with a pair of black PVC trousers which she paired with an open collared white shirt.
The 54-year-old completed the outfit by wrapping a loose black tie around her neck as her blonde waves were tousled over her shoulders.
Wow: Tess Daly (R) and Claudia Winkleman (L) led the evening’s proceedings as they took to the ballroom in black and white coordinated outfits
Stunners: The pair kept it classy as they ditched the glamorous dresses for androgynous looks
Meanwhile Claudia donned a black sheer shirt with white collar and cuff detailing as she peered out from beneath her signature dark fringe.
Beneath her shirt, the 51-year-old flashed a black lace camisole top while also adding a pop of colour with some red lipstick.
The iconic pair opened the show as they introduced the 15 celebrities and their couples as they take to the dancefloor together for the first week of the competition.
However it’s not getting too real too quickly as all the couples will make it through to Week Two of the show, with the first vote-off set to take place next Sunday.
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones
Bobby Brazier and Diane Buswell
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin
Nikita Kanda and Gorka Marquez
Les Dennis and Nancy Xu
Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer