Once again, it’s time for celebrities to get out their dancing shoes and see if they have what it takes to lift the glitterball trophy for Strictly’s 19th series.
This year will see a change to the judging panel with pro dancer Anton Du Beke replacing Bruno Tonioli as a judge, and a new group of pro dancers will take to the stage.
The first celebrity contestants have been announced, which will include Strictly’s first ever all male couple.
Best known for being the lead vocalist and guitarist in McFly, Ton Fletcher is also a composer and author.
As well as writing chart-topping songs for bands such as One Direction, Busted and 5 Seconds Of Summer, Fletcher has written the children’s books The Christmasaurus, The Creakers and There’s A Monster In Your Book.
“I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified!” said Fletcher.
He added: “My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen. I’m not sure how far they’ll get me in the competition but I can’t wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire.”
Actor and author Robert Webb has starred in sitcoms such as Peep Show, The Mitchell And Webb Look and Back and is well known for his partnership with David Mitchell.
Webb has written a best-selling memoir called How Not To Be A Boy and his debut novel Come Again was published last year.
Webb expressed his excitement at taking part in Strictly and his aim is to try and survive every week without injuring himself or innocent bystanders.
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.
“I know it’s going to be a challenge. To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing.”
TV presenter AJ Odudu is used to being in the limelight and has presented shows including The Voice, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow.
She has also hosted for the Brits and TV Bafta Awards 2021, written articles for a number of publications like Vogue and is currently contributing editor for Grazia magazine.
AJ Odudu commented: “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. Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon! I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience.”
Chef, TV presenter and cookery author John Whaite rose to fame when he won the third series of The Great British Bake Off.
Since then, Whaite has published five cookery books, written for newspapers and magazine publications about food and mental health and opened his own cookery school John Whaite’s Kitchen.
Whaite currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4.
“I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth,” said Whaite.
He continued: “What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion. Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”
Actor and children’s TV presenter Rhys Stephenson has become known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, hosting live form the studio’s HQ.
Stephenson has presented some of the biggest CBBC shows, including Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and has appeared on Dengineers and Newsround.
As well as presenting Stephenson is also an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity which offers mental health services in schools.
Stephenson 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!"
Dragons’ Den Star Sara Davies was the youngest ever dragon on the panel show when she joined in 2019.
The businesswoman started her company Crafter’s Companion as a student and now employs nearly 250 people worldwide.
Joining Strictly Come Dancing has been something Davies has always wanted to do.
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!”
Hollyoaks and Coronation Street actress Katie McGlynn is swapping TV drama for dancing shoes.
Best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street, her performance earned her a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
McGlynn has also played roles in Waterloo Road, The Syndicate and Moving On, and is currently playing mysterious newcomer Becky Quentin in Hollyoaks.
Keeping the news a secret wasn’t easy for McGlynn and as long as she doesn’t fall over she’ll be happy.
“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,” said McGlynn.
She added: “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. I can’t promise that I’ll be the best, but I’m going to give it 110% on the dance floor!”
Presenter, writer and broadcaster Dan Walker is part of many people’s morning routine as a presenter on the morning TV show BBC Breakfast.
During the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Walker presented BBC Olympic Breakfast and is a regular face on Match Of The Day and The NFL Show.
In 2019, Walker joined other celebrities on a mission to climb Kilimanjaro to help raise money for Comic Relief.
Walker is also an accomplished writer and his most recent book Remarkable People was published in 2020.
Dan Walker commented: “I am definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding!
“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.”
Chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter Tilly Ramsay has over 9.5 million followers on TikTok and regularly posts funny videos of herself and her father, fellow chef Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay presented CBBC show Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch which followed her cooking and having adventures with her family, earning her three Children’s Bafta nominations.
In 2017 she published her first book inspired by the CBBC show, called Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover.
Ramsay partners up with her dad to host a regular cooking segment on This Morning called Big Chef Little Chef.
On joining Strictly Ramsay said: “I’m so excited and grateful to be joining the Strictly family! I’m always up for fun new challenges and this will be my biggest adventure yet. 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. Bring on the glitz, glamour and sequins!”
Actor, writer and producer Greg Wise has had a varied career spanning film, television and theatre roles, with roles in The Crown, Cranford, Walking On Sunshine and Sense And Sensibility.
Wise, along with his wife Emma Thompson, wrote the feel-good romantic comedy Last Christmas and the book Not That Kind Of Love with his late sister Clare Wise.
“My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her,” said Wise.
He continued: “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.”
Nina Wadia OBE
Actor Nina Wadia OBE has had a long and varied career, and is best known for her role as Zaina Masood in EastEnders, which earned her a Best On-screen Partnership and Best Comedy award at the British Soap Awards.
Wadia has also starred in BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours.
Wadia has performed in theatre productions such as the Tony award-winning production of The Vagina Monologues and the live-action film remake of Aladdin.
As a JDFR ambassador, Wadia received an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.
Nina Wadia commented: “I’ve always danced like nobody’s watching, so it we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021.”
Actor Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first deaf contestant to enter Strictly and is best known for her role as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders.
Ayling-Ellis is the first ever deaf actor to play a deaf character in the soap and has also appeared in various stage productions.
Ayling-Ellis uses British Sign Language and her other TV credits include Summer of Rockets and Casualty.
“To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary,” said Rose Ayling-Ellis.
She continued: “It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open! I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers.
“But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me!”
Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth British swimming champion Adam Peaty MBE is one of the most famous faces in the swimming world.
Peaty made history when he became the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title, winning gold in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In addition to his three gold and two silver Olympic medals, he is also an eight-time World Champion, sixteen-time European Champion and three-time Commonwealth Champion.
Peaty holds the world record for the 50 metre and 100 metre breaststroke and in the 2017 New Year Honours he was given an MBE for his services to swimming.
Adam Peaty commented: “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 Love is known for her straight-talking attitude and is one of the most sought-after entertainers in the UK right now.
A regular on the stand-up circuit, Love is known for her viral online comedy sketches on social media.
As well as being a regular panellist on Loose Women, Love has been a guest on shows such as The Jonathan Ross Show, The Graham Norton Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Celebrity Juice, This Morning, The Big Narstie Show, The Stand Up Sketch Show, Good Morning Britain and Celebrity MasterChef.
During lockdown, Love created Instagram series Quarantine Date Nights, which ran during 2020 and 2021, bringing together lots of singletons and garnering thousands of views.
Judi Love 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!”
Broadcaster, sports pundit and former England rugby player Ugo Monye is the final contestant confirmed to take part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.
In 2002, Monye began his rugby career playing for the Harlequins and went on to make 241 appearances for the club and score 89 tries, making his England debut in 2008.
Monye retired in 2015 and has become a well-known face in sports presenting, hosting rugby coverage for BT Sport and ITV and the BBC 5 Live Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
It was recently announced that Monye will become one of the new team captains for BBC One’s A Question of Sport.
In a bid to ensure rugby is accessible for all, Monye has also been appointed as the first Chairman of England Rugby’s new Diversity and Inclusion committee.
Ugo Monye commented: “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.”