Strictly Come Dancing is back for 2021, with a number of changes in place for the 19th series, and a whole host of new contestants, judges and professionals.
Airing on 18 September with a pre-recorded show, live episodes will start from 25 September.
Author and musician Tom Fletcher will be taking to the dance floor in the upcoming BBC One series, and will be joined in the celebrity line-up by comedian and actor Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
Here is everything you need to know about the contestants.
Who are the contestants?
Fletcher revealed his McFly bandmate Harry Judd – who won Strictly in 2011 with professional dancer Aliona Vilani – inspired him to join the show, but said he feels “naked” without a guitar.
The musician rose to fame as the lead singer of McFly alongside Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter and Judd. The band formed in 2003 and are known for songs including Obviously, All About You and Five Colours In Her Hair.
The 36-year-old is the main writer on many of the boy band’s hits and is also credited with penning songs for One Direction and Busted.
Fletcher is married to author and podcast host Giovanna Fletcher, who won last year’s series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and they have three sons named Buzz, Buddy and Max.
Peep Show star Webb said he is “ludicrously excited” to be taking part in Strictly.
He said: “It’s a big, generous, joyful show and I can’t wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman. At least I think that’s what happens.
The TV, film and theatre actor is best known as the unemployed musician Jez in Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, starring alongside David Mitchell. His other TV credits include That Mitchell and Webb Look and Channel 4 comedy-drama Back.
However, Webb does have previous form for winning a TV dancing show, after squeezing into a leotard, leg warmers and curly wig for Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, where he was voted series champion with his rendition of What A Feeling from the 1980s film Flashdance.
Webb said he expected to face more difficult challenges on Strictly; the TV Bafta winner underwent major heart surgery last year after discovering in 2019 that he was suffering from a heart murmur caused by a mitral valve prolapse.
Announced as the third contestant for Strictly, TV presenter Odudu said: “I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I’m so glad I can finally tell my mum."
Odudu began her career as a reporter for BBC Blast on Radio Lancashire and went on to co-host the spin-off Big Brother’s Bit On The Side with Emma Willis and Rylan Clark-Neal and produced the documentary Manhunting With My Mum in Nigeria.
She has presented TV shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow.
Odudu also took part in Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins in aid of charity Stand Up To Cancer in 2019 and is a contestant on ITV’s Cooking With The Stars.
She is also a qualified personal trainer and sports nutritionist and was appointed as a contributing editor to Grazia magazine in 2021.
Former Bake Off winner John Whaite has said being part of the first all-male pairing on Strictly Come Dancing is a “great step forward in representation and inclusion”.
The chef is the fourth contestant to be confirmed for the forthcoming BBC One show and follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year danced in a partnership with professional Katya Jones.
The cookbook author said he is “very, very nervous”, but said: “It’s an honour. When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought, you know, to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing, but also just to see two men or two women dancing together is not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect.”
Whaite won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on the Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.
The actor is best known for roles in Sense And Sensibility, in which he starred opposite his wife Dame Emma Thompson, Johnny English, Cranford and The Crown.
The 55-year-old has said he agreed to do the show in honour of his sister Clare, who died five years ago, and who he described as a “huge disco queen”.
Wise said: “My gorgeous diva sis, who would have been insane with excitement that her little bro was doing this.
“I will channel her, as her bro can’t dance – but I’m thrilled to be dipping my toes, knees, hips and arms into this wonderful world, and hope to make her proud, and obviously make her laugh.”
Matilda ‘Tilly’ Ramsay
The TV presenter and influencer is best known for presenting the cooking show Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch on CBBC alongside her famous chef father Gordon Ramsay and her family.
The 19-year-old has amassed a following of more than 9.5 million on TikTok, where she regularly posts viral videos with her father.
She said: “I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on and show my Dad how it’s really done!”
The BBC Breakfast host says he is “definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding!”
He added: “My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows… Saturday Mash Up and Strictly. I did Saturday Mash Up this summer so… it’s time to embrace the sequins.”
Walker announced earlier this year he was stepping down after 12 years at the helm of BBC Football Focus.
He sustained an injury on 17 September during training, but has promised he will be back to take part in the show.
The actress was the seventh contestant announced.
Best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street, she said keeping the news of being in Strictly a secret had been “so hard”.
She added: “I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.
“Although I do get to have so much fun as an actress, a lot of my roles have involved quite serious and challenging storylines, so I’m fully ready to let my hair down and do something different, even if it is completely outside of my comfort zone."
The Dragon’s Den star and entrepreneur will switch business for the ballroom as she joins the line-up.
She said: “My mam and dad are going to be so excited. I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance. Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue!
“I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little. The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dancefloor.
“And I’m excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum tum!”
The actress is best known for playing Zainab Masood in BBC soap, EastEnders.
She has also starred in Goodness Gracious Me and Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours.
She was unveiled on ITV’s Lorraine and said: “I’ve always danced like nobody’s watching, so if we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021. I think I should do this before I’m too old any more.
“I think this is last year I’m ever wearing heels. I think I think there’s a lot happened in the last couple of years and I just want to grab life by the balls.”
The CBBC host said: “I am buzzing to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation.
“I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am ready!”
EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first ever deaf contestant to appear in the BBC One dancing competition.
Ayling-Ellis described being the first ever deaf contestant on the show as “exciting” and “a little bit scary”.
The actress has played Frankie Lewis in EastEnders since 2020.
Ayling-Ellis has also starred in TV programmes Summer Of Rockets and Casualty.
Adam Peaty MBE
One of the biggest names in the swimming world, Adam was a standout star at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 where he was the first Brit to defend an Olympic title.
He also claimed gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics and then again in Tokyo 2020 in the Men’s 100m Breastroke. In total, he has won three gold and two silver Olympic medals and is an eight-time World Champion.
He holds the world record in 50m and 100m breastroke events, and was appointed MBE in 2017 New Year Honours of services to swimming.
Speaking of competing in Stricly he said: “I think this will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I’m so excited to finally share the news that I’ll be joining Strictly this year. I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool. I’m hoping my competitive nature is going to compensate for my dancing abilities!”
Comedian and presenter Judi is a firm favourite on the stand-up circuit and is known for producing several online sketches that have gone viral on social media.
She’s a regular panelist on Loose Women and has appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show, The Graham Norton show and Celebrity Juice among other shows.
Speaking about her participation in Stricly, Judi said: “I think I am still in shock that I will be part of this amazing show. I’ve watched it for many years and admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft. I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!!
“I can’t lie I’m soooo nervous but excited at the same time!!”Comedian and presenter Judi Love is one of the UK’s most in demand entertainers. A firm favourite on the stand-up circuit, Judi is also known for producing a host of viral online comedy sketches, amassing a huge following on social media.
Ugo is a TV presenter and sports pundit, who began his career playing rugby at Harlequins in 2002. He made 241 appearances for the club, scored 89 tries and made his England debut in 2008.
He retired in 20015 and has since become a respected voice in sports presenting, having hosted rugby coverage for BT Sport and ITV, as well as BBC 5 Live Rugby Union Weekly Podcast.
Speaking about joining the Strictly line up, he said: “What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves. My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me. I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins!”
Who are this year’s professionals?
As well as Strictly regulars Oti Mabuse, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, and Katya Jones, returning dancers also include Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones.
Kai Widdrington, Nikita Kuzmin, Cameron Lombard and Jowita Przystal will join the professional dancers as newcomers to the show.
Who are the judges?
The Stricly judging panel features regulars Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli will be replaced by former Stricly professional, Anton Du Beke.
Bruno is also appearing as a judge on US show Dancing with the Stars and cannot travel between locations while filming for Strictly takes place.
When does Strictly start?
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One for its 19th series on Saturday 18 September at 7.45pm.
In the first show, dancers and celebrity contestants will be coupled up.
The premiere is pre-recorded, with the first live show to follow on 25 September. Episodes will air each Saturday evening.
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