"It's never too early to start panicking on this show," said Len and with that we're instantly back into Strictly: lapping up the atmosphere, being aghast at the frocks, pitying Anton and automatically tuning out Alesha Dixon.
We've just never been away. Yet this does feel like a shaken up Strictly. "This is the best lineup ever," said Len, this time reading from his contract. Yet there is some truth in it: this is the first series in years where the celebrities are better known than the professional dancers. Then the new graphics are more nicely Hollywood than Shepherds Bush and the redesigned set is smart.
Plus of course, the whole idea of a launch show is new - to Strictly, at least. The format of the launch show is very familiar if you remember sports day at school or you've ever spent quality time at a meat market.
There wasn't the promised tension and excitement over who was paired with whom, not when you could guess most with one squint at their respective heights. But we did have the little frisson over who is genuinely pleased, who is truly appalled and who had comments that were well enough prepared to make you suspect a fix.
There was a fix. Strictly is always cast as carefully as a drama and there is no random shuffle on who got whom but Anton got the joke: forget that Ann Widdecombe has been hired as the new John Sergeant, just look at the sixteen feet height difference. "If you are a politician of course you're going to say what you think," said Widdecombe during an interview recorded before we watched her and Anton pretending to be pleased with each other. That was rather sweet, her demonstrating the same grasp of reality she applies to Catholicism.
"That was seriously quite good," said Bruce as the hour came quite quickly to an end. That was the best part - not that it ended but that it seemed to fly by. It's easy to criticise the show but it does still have atmosphere, its artifice is balanced by fun and just often enough there are dances that lift you.
Not tonight, unfortunately, but you know they're coming and you know you'll be watching. Waddya say, round my place for a Strictly party on Friday 1 October?