IT’S still possible to get excited about a new season of Strictly Come Dancing even when you’ve never heard of the majority of contestants.

After all, it must be difficult coming up with celebrities who are household names and also prepared to put themselves through the genuinely tough daily routine that constitutes this extremely popular TV series.

However, here we are again: sequins, sportsmen and women and soap stars all in the glitzy line-up who are, even as you read these words, practising hard daily to wow us onscreen in two weeks' time.

By then, they will to some extent have weeded out the possibles from those unco-ordinated souls who never really had a chance of surviving more than a show or two.

This season, presenter Anneka Rice says she hasn’t “got a rhythm gene” and “can’t even clap in time”. So we’re not sure already how her professional dance partner, last year’s winner Kevin Clifton, will cope.

Olympic rower James Cracknell is already apologising to his kids for his future performances, although as a disciplined sportsman he might actually do well. Sports people generally are used to hard practice and trying out moves until they’re perfect.

There have been plenty of sportsmen who have won the glitter ball and, in the same way, paralympic table tennis star Will Bayley could surprise viewers.

Apparently, though, the smart money this year is on former Arsenal and England footballer Alex Scott who won the Strictly Come Dancing Comic Relief special last year and certainly looks the part. She’s dancing with Neil Jones, who hit the headlines last season when his wife, fellow dancer Katya, was photographed kissing celebrity partner comedian Seann Walsh.

Katya and Neil are reported to now be separated but it does highlight that other element of Strictly – the so-called Curse. All that body-to-body contact, hours in the rehearsal room and close relationship as dance partners has quite a few times filtered into real-life.

Some celebrity dancers have split up with their partners as a result. Last year’s winner Stacey Dooley is now romantically entwined with her winning partner Kevin Clifton after splitting with her long-term boyfriend.

All the new contestants must be aware of the Curse of Strictly as it must offer unique temptation. Even TV presenter Jeremy Vine, who was a contestant in 2015, admitted only recently that he had had feelings for his dance partner Karen Hauer.

I love his wife’s reaction to that possibility at the time, though. Quoting a line from Fawlty Towers, she laughed at the prospect of him running off with a younger woman and said: “For goodness sake, do you really think a woman like that would be interested in a Brilliantined stick insect like you?”

All that apart, I’m really looking forward to the new series kicking off because of the changes that such hard exercise brings to celebrity shapes, the gaffes and the huge improvements.

Most of all, it’s sheer entertainment demanding nothing at all from the viewer but enjoyment.