Strictly fans claim Bruno Tonioli HADN'T WATCHED routines he critiqued as they accuse judge of 'pre-recording' message

STRICTLY Come Dancing fans accused Bruno Tonioli of pre-recording his "live" message on tonight's show, which saw him awkwardly comment on the celebs' performances.

The 64-year-old star, who lives in Los Angeles, has been forced to take a step back from judging on this year's series due to travel restrictions and quarantine rules amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, he will appear via video link during Sunday's results' shows – but he did make a special appearance for tonight's first live episode.

After all of the celebrity pairs had danced in front of the judges for the first time, host Claudia Winkleman announced that Bruno had been watching.

She said: "Someone who has been keeping a very close eye on tonight's proceedings is the one and only Bruno!"

Appearing via video, Bruno appeared thrilled to be on the show – looking smart in a blazer over a simple shirt – and his new peroxide blonde hair proudly on display.

He said: "Hello Claudia, hello everyone! What a show, Strictly 2020 is back and I'm telling you, it's back with a bang."

The star continued: "I spotted a few very, very exciting things; sweet Caroline really took the express train to the nation's heart.

"JJ, what a surprise, oh my god, so light on his feet – so charming.

"And I'm telling you, that samba week one caught me out with such a performance, it really is incredible Maisie, well done."

Signing off, Bruno added: "Can't wait to see you all, ciao!"

But despite the personalised shoutouts to some of tonight's celebrity contestants, viewers at home weren't convinced that Bruno had actually watched any of it – instead accusing the show of recording his reaction in advance.

One fan tweeted: "Bruno has been keeping a close eye on performances tonight…. In this pre-recorded VT from three days ago with opinions based on rehearsal footage."

Another agreed: "Bruno's blatantly pre-recorded commentary making more sense than it normally does after the dance."

A third added: "Was there any point in playing Bruno’s clearly prerecorded video?"

One more said: "Bruno definitely didn’t watch the show and read that off an autocue."

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Despite the cynical view on Bruno, fans were all in all delighted to have Strictly back on their screens, praising the show for offering a slice of normality amid a difficult year.

They were also blown away as Katya Jones and Nicola Adams made history as the show's first ever same-sex pairing, wowing the judges with their impressive performance.

None of the stars faced elimination this week, but one will be leaving the competition next weekend once they have all performed for a second time.

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