Strictly Come Dancing Tour 2022: Sara Davies triumphs on return to North East as Janette Manrara sparkles

Sara Davies was a clear fan favourite on her return to the North East, whilst Janette Manrara proved she’s got the presenting goods

It was a homecoming to remember for Sara Davies as the Strictly Come Dancing Tour rolled into town at Newcastle's Utilita Arena.

The annual fixture, which was pulled in 2021 due to the pandemic, sees the show's professionals and a handful of fans' favourite celebrities tour the country performing routines from the previous year's series.

On the 2021 bill are Dragons Den's Sara Davies, The Great British Bake Off's John Whaite, presenters Tilly Ramsay and Rhys Stephenson and 2021 Strictly Champion, EastEnders' Rose Ayling-Ellis.

Given that the previous year's stars didn't have the chance to hit the road, actress Maisie Smith and The Wanted's Max George from the 2020 series are also performing.

For Strictly super fans, some of whom NewcastleWorld spoke to before the final last year, the tour is the perfect chance to see their dancing stars in the flesh.

Organisers don't hold back on production either, with a chandelier swaying from the middle of the Utilita Arena and the instantly recognisable Strictly backdrop lighting up the floor.

A huge group number kickstarts the night before judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli are introduced.

Whilst the panel, who watch the same dances every night of the tour, do seem a little rehearsed in their comments, shenanigans led by Tonioli do provide light moments throughout the night.

There's no Tess Daly or Claudia Winkleman touring and It Takes Two's Janette Manrara who takes the reins.

The former Strictly pro is a breath of fresh air as she brings couples on and off stage, exchanges with the judges and oozes confidence as she jokes with dancers and celebs.

Between all of that, Manrara has time to change costume three times and jump into group dances to prove she is a jack of all trades - if Strictly producers ever did want to switch up their mainstay hosts, Manrara is right there.

All celebrities perform two dances each, highlights including John & Johannes' show dance and Rose & Giovanni's couple's choice.

John and Johannes perform their show dance
John and Johannes perform their show dance
John and Johannes perform their show dance

The latter is that famous television moment where the music cuts to highlight what Rose, who is deaf, hears.

That gag's effect increases tenfold when spectators have been surrounded by the hubbub of arena noise for two and a half hours - all of a sudden, you can hear a pin drop in the Utilita Arena.

Once the show comes to a close, spectators text in to vote for their winner of the evening.

Unsurprisingly, given the whoops and cheers every time she entered the dancefloor, it was Sara Davies who emerged triumphant alongside partner Aljaz Skorjanec.

Sara, born in County Durham, gushed her love for the North East as she lifted the glitterball to cap off a fantastic, feel-good evening.