While Covid-19 may have threatened to cancel our beloved Saturday night TV fix, BBC has announced that Strictly Come Dancing will be making a triumphant return for its 18th series this autumn.
This series will make Strictly history with the show's first ever same-sex dance pair. Nicola Adams OBE will be part of an all-female dance partnership.
Putting some sparkle and shimmer back into our Saturday and Sunday nights, the BBC has started to announce the celebrity dancers who will be taking to the dance floor.
The first contestant to be announced for the new Strictly series is the award-winning actor and broadcaster Caroline Quentin.
She’s been a staple of British TV since the 80s, having starred in well-known shows such as Jonathan Creek, Blue Murder and Kiss Me Kate.
Caroline’s defining role came when she played Dorothy in the hit 90s sitcom Men Behaving Badly.
Alongside her acting feats, Caroline has also presented numerous documentaries such as Extraordinary Homes on BBC Two.
Caroline said: ““I am thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part.”
The former NFL cornerback Jason Bell will be trading football cleats for salsa shoes this autumn as the second Strictly contestant.
With a career taking him from the Dallas Cowboys, to the Houston Texans and finally the New York Giants, the American footballer has now settled in the UK presenting The NFL Show on BBC.
Jason commented: “Strictly was the first show I ever watched when I moved to the UK and I’m a massive fan.
“My six year-old daughter never got the chance to see me run out on the field at an NFL game but she is very excited about me taking to the dance floor. I hope I can do her proud.”
The Wanted singer Max George may have got a UK number one single with ‘All Time Low’, but he’s now reached an all-time high as the next confirmed contestant for Strictly 2020.
The Mancunian boyband star gained two number one singles in the UK and reached the top three in the US billboard charts. Since then, Max gained an acting role in the sixth series of the hit musical show Glee, playing Clint.
Max isn’t the first member of The Wanted to compete in Strictly. His bandmate Jay McGuiness took part back in 2015 and ended up winning the overall competition.
Max commented: "Buzzing to be on Strictly this year. Not really one for the dance floor, but I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jay McGuiness set The Wanted’s bar so low...”
From newsroom to Ballroom, the journalist and presenter Ranvir Singh has described her Strictly announcement as “one of complete terror”.
Born and raised in Preston, Ranvir spent 12 years at the BBC before moving to ITV, becoming a regular newsreader on ITN news and the news anchor for ITV’s Tonight.
Ranvir is best known for her role as the Political Editor on ITV’s Good Morning Britain where she works alongside Susanna Reid, Piers Morgan and Kate Garraway.
Describing her excitement for Strictly, Ranvir said: “It feels like embarking on a roller coaster, where you really want to do it but you are equally scared. Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!”
Radio 1 DJ and television presenter Clara Amfo will be hoping to waltz through her dancing training.
Clara presents the 10am-1pm show five days a week. As a legend of the Live Lounge, she’s no stranger to good rhythm.
Alongside her disc jockey duties, Clara is a regular red-carpet and award show host: from movie premiers to the Brits and the BAFTAs.
Clara commented: “As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy, so to be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dancefloor!”
Nicola Adams OBE
The boxing legend Nicola Adams is already a master of the twist, step, shuffle and slide.
With victory at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, the double Olympic gold medallist will be transferring her fancy footwork from the ring to the rumba.
Nicola made history as the first female amateur boxer to win an Olympic gold medal in London. She’ll once again be making history in the first ever same-sex dancing pair on Strictly.
Nicola commented: “People might know me from work in the ring, but I'll be every bit as passionate and dedicated on the dance-floor too.
“I also wanted to thank the BBC for supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing; and it’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”
The comedian, actor and musician Bill Bailey is the latest dancer to be confirmed on Strictly.
From Nevermind the Buzzcocks to Black Books, Bill has been making the nation laugh for years. He’ll be hoping his performance on Strictly doesn’t have the same effect.
As a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist, Bill often includes ingenious musical elements into his popular stand-up routines. Only time will tell if he can add ‘excellent dancer’ to his colourful repertoire.
Bill said: “In these strange times we're living through, it feels right to do something different and take on a new challenge.
“So I am delighted to be a part of this year's unique Strictly Come Dancing. My late mum Madrin would have loved it - I hope she'll be watching.”
As a former Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist, JJ Chalmers is no stranger to a challenge.
After a devastating IED explosion in Afghanistan left JJ with life changing injuries, the former Marine went on to captain the Trike team at the 2014 Invictus Games, taking home 3 medals.
Following his sporting success, JJ landed a role presenting the 2016 Rio Paralympics and has since anchored BBC One’s coverage of the Invictus Games.
JJ commented: “As a TV presenter I'm lucky enough to witness some of the greatest sporting contests in the world. Strictly is a whole different ball game in respect to the challenges I will face but I'm up for an adventure and at least my mum will know where I am!”
Having been forced to quit after injuring his foot training for Strictly last year, Jamie Laing is back for his second shot at winning the coveted glitterball trophy.
The TV personality made his name on the reality series Made in Chelsea, following the lives of the ultra-rich in London’s glamorous borough.
An heir to the McVitie’s biscuit fortune, Jamie has followed in the footsteps of his sweet-toothed ancestors by creating his own confectionary brand Candy Kittens.
Alongside his role on MIC, Jamie hosts numerous podcasts with his co-stars, such as ‘Private Parts’ with Francis Boulle and ‘6 Degrees From Jamie and Spencer’ with Spencer Matthews.
Jamie said: “Here we go again, hopefully this time I can last long enough so my mum can see me dance. The reason I’m doing it, is to make my mum proud but all I did last year was make her even more disappointed. Let’s change that this year, can’t wait!”
The EastEnders actress Maisie Smith is the tenth dancer to be announced for Strictly.
Maisie plays Tiffany, the daughter of the indomitable Bianca (Patsy Palmer) on one of Britain’s favourite soaps.
The 19-year-old made her acting debut alongside Hollywood stars Scarlett Johansson and Eddie Redmayne in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Since joining EastEnders in 2008, Maisie has won numerous awards for her portrayal of Tiffany including Best Young Actor at the Inside Soap Awards and Best Dramatic Performance from a Young Actress at the British Soap Awards.
Maisie commented: “Get me in those sequins, I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter! This is a dream come true.”
The 21-year-old singer HRVY (Harvey Leigh Cantwell) is the latest celebrity to start dusting off his dancing shoes.
Since posting singing videos on Facebook, HRVY has shot to fame with sold out tours across the UK and Europe.
Kent’s answer to Justin Bieber, HRVY has over a billion streams to his name and over 10 million followers on social media.
HRVY said: “Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year. I think my mum is more excited that she’ll be able to see me every Saturday night now.”
RT Hon Jacqui Smith
The former Labour MP Jacqui Smith is the final contestant to be announced for Strictly Come Dancing.
The former politician became the UK’s first female Home Secretary in 2007. Now she is the Chair of the largest NHS trust in England in Birmingham. Jacqui is also Chair of the Children’s Trust in Sandwell.
A regular political commentator on TV and radio, Jacqui also co-hosts a weekly podcast with broadcaster Iain Dale called For the Many.
Jacqui said: “I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly - and that’s very rare for me. Fifty years ago, I got a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing and it feels about time to return to dancing. I couldn’t be in better hands with the Strictly team and I’m going to throw myself into the challenge. Watch out!”
Strictly Come Dancing will return in October.