All the celebrities taking part this year had been thoroughly briefed on just what they should say about her departure from the judging panel.
But the instructions perhaps hadn't been strict enough for Phil Tufnell.
"What was it we were told to say about Arlene again?" the slightly bleary eyed former cricketer - fresh from celebrating England's Ashes victory - asks the BBC publicist looming at his shoulder.
Then he repeats parrot fashion, like most of the other contestants, "Oh yeah, she is still part of the show. Everything has to change, the changes are for the best."
Actress Lynda Bellingham, 61, is a little more vocal on the supposed ageism issue - and Arlene's replacement by Alesha Dixon, some 30 years her junior.
"Age is a number, it's a cliché [that] the only thing you've got to be aware of as you get older, is if you let it all go", declares Lynda.
"She's still in the show, if it was about ageism she wouldn't be in the show and if they weren't speaking to each other she wouldn't be in the show and I think as far as Alesha goes - she's innocent until proven guilty - give the girl a chance. It's a show it's about entertainment, it's not real life."
Dancer Anton Du Beke and his partner this year, Footballer's Wives star Laila Rouass take a more humorous approach to skirting round the issue - suggesting new judge Alesha Dixon will side with her former partner Matthew Cutler when it comes to scoring.
"It's good having Alesha as a judge, 'cause she can look at it from my side, she knows what I'm going through", says Laila. "But the only thing is she danced with Matthew - so she better not be on his side."
"I reckon Alesha is completely biased!" declares Anton. "She'll swing it towards Matthew every time. They love each other. Matthew comes out and she'll give him ten without waiting for him to dance!"
But dancer Flavia Cacace feels having a former Strictly winner on the judging panel could be to her and partner Craig Kelly's advantage.
"I hope Alesha will be able to relate to the celebrities and how they're feeling", she says.
"I think that's nice because she can understand a little bit more how they're thinking so it might be a nice twist.
"I think Arlene will be missed but Strictly evolves like anything and she'll still be part of the show."
So with the Arlene issue swept off the dance floor and under the carpet, it's down to the other question no one usually wants to give an honest answer to - who wants to win?
But EastEnders Natalie Cassidy, teamed up with feisty Vincent Simone, is upfront.
"I'm here to win! You can't not want to win with Vincent as your partner", she laughs.
And Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff - who last year had "tranquillised rhinoceros" John Sergeant as her partner - is delighted to be taking to the floor with light-on-his-feet boxing champ Joe Calzaghe.
"I wanted an athlete for the show and Joe is really great because he's so focused," she says.
"He's a very different partner, but they have something in common that they both want to do well on the show and John, bless his heart, he tried his best, but obviously now I have an athlete - my dream came true."
And Kristina needn't worry as Joe is full of fighting spirit.
"Of course I want to do well - I'm a competitor, I'm a winner. I want to win!" he says.
"If there's one thing I'm dreading it's messing up," he also confesses.
"The fear of being on the live shows in front of millions of people and losing your pose or treading on her toes."
This year sees an unprecedented 16 couples take each other on in the sequin-spattered series which runs until Christmas.
While Laila Rouass and her Footballer's Wives co-star Zoe Lucker were famous for trying to literally kill each other in the ITV drama, she insists they'll be cheering each other on during the dance show, despite being competitors.
Laila insists: "There's no rivalry between me and Zoe - I was so surprised to see her and so happy. We can be nervous together."
And Zoe agrees: "Do you know when she walked in today, I was absolutely thrilled. We're in the same boat, I'm sure she's a much better dancer than I am, but she's great fun.
"She's very warm - she's going to be a great support - we're just going to have to look after each other. The more time we spend together the less intimidating it will be."
Oxo Mum Lynda believes it's the luvvie side of being an actress that is getting in the way of her competitive streak.
"I'm not a very competitive person I have to tell you," she confesses.
"I'm used to, as an actor, being in a kind of team effort. Contrary to what people think about actresses all bitching and hating each other, mostly we are a very team-forming group of people, but on the other hand who knows - if I start to race ahead..."
And Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle vows: "If I get to the final I'll dance in a thong."
The sequins and Lycra are a source of great amusement for the men.
"I've already tried on my leather-studded jock strap", jokes EastEnders Ricky Groves. "It's all part of the glamour and the glitz isn't it really?"
But for some of the women taking part in Strictly is like a fairytale dream come true.
"The frocks are amazing - I had some fittings and I actually cried," Natalie Cassidy reveals.
"They're just beautiful and they're very daring and like a princess. It's every girl's dream, I think."
There is a lot of training to do before anyone can really start to imagine holding that glitter ball trophy above their heads and a lot of the contestants aren't quite sure what they've let themselves in for.
Craig confesses: "We haven't started training - I really don't know if I can dance, but I'd be lying to say I wasn't competitive.
"Flavia's got to push me, squeeze it out of me. But she's got a willing pupil. I want to do well. The fear of looking like a total idiot is enough to get you focused."
And Tennis ace Martina Hingis reveals: "I'm worried about stepping on my dress!
"Training is going OK - baby steps you know. Once I had just the socks on it was light and then you put your real dancing shoes on and I can hardly even walk straight."
But some of the contestants seem to think their celebrity lifestyle of living it up on the dance floor at top night spots should be a good grounding.
Jo Wood, 53, reveals: "I go to nightclubs and dance quite often. I've got no dancing background except I did waltz one year at school, one term but that was with another girl 'cause I was at a girls' school."
Jo's dance partner Brendan Cole - known for being very strict in rehearsals - says: "She goes out to Mahiki until 3am in the morning - none of my partners have done that before."
Jo laughs: "Brendan is the only thing I'm not dreading because I like Brendan. He's the bad boy of ballroom, you see."
It's time for the contestants to get down to some serious moving and shaking - never mind stiff competition, it's going to be stiff backs and aching feet from now on.
And it looks like there won't be anybody reading newspapers in rehearsals and stomping around the dancefloor making a mockery of the show this year.
Or will there?
Phil Tufnell lets slip: "I think the main thing is about enjoying it, keep a smile on my face.
"You don't want it to become like a burden or get so nervous you're in the toilet throwing up - I want to be enjoying myself."
Extra time - Strictly Come Dancing
Badboy of ballroom Brendan Cole was engaged to professional dance partner Camilla Dallerup when the first series of Strictly began, but their relationship ended over his affair with his celebrity dance partner, newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky. Their sizzling chemistry clearly helped them on the dance floor as they won the series and claimed the first glitter ball trophy.
Professional partners Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone used to be an item off the dance floor, but they split in series five when Flavia fell for her celebrity partner, ex-EastEnder Matt Di Angelo.
Matt and Flavia's chemistry helped them get to the final but they were beaten by singer Alesha Dixon and her partner Matthew Cutler. Alesha is now to sit on the Strictly judging panel herself.
Ex-political journalist John Sergeant made headlines last year after viewers voted to keep him in week after week, despite his terrible dancing. He and partner Kristina Rihanoff played on his lack of skill by making their dances humorous, but critics and the judges believed he was making a mockery out of the dance competition. He eventually withdrew in Week 10.
This year's contestants Hollyoaks' Ricky Whittle and athlete Jade Johnson have a Strictly advantage. Ricky danced a group dance with the Hollyoaks cast to Footloose on BBC's Let's Dance for Comic Relief earlier this year and Jade danced the Cha Cha Cha with Roger Black last year for Sport Relief does Strictly Come Dancing.