Ed Balls

Dances with Balls: Katya Jones tells all about Strictly's most enthusiastic contestant

Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman’s critique of Ed Balls’ The Mask-themed Samba spoke for the nation a few weeks ago. Ed Balls has defied expectations to become one of the most popular contestants on the show.

Despite coming bottom of the leaderboard throughout the series, Balls and dance partner Katya Jones have escaped elimination each week.

“Even those who didn’t like him before are warming to him now” Jones says. “He’s just a normal human who came in knowing nothing about dance, and he’s trying so hard.”

Strictly professional: Gorka talks Tameka, Charleston and elimination

Strictly

“Every ballroom dancer in the competition world, once they stop competing, they want to join the programme,” says Gorka Marquez.

Marquez is one of six new professionals who joined the Strictly Family in 2016, along with husband and wife dancing duo Katya and Neil Jones, AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt and Oksana Platero.

Until the shock elimination last weekend, he was partnered with EastEnders actress Tameka Empson.

“I think the time wasn’t right for her because she was a good dancer. I think it was too early” he protests.

Final names complete Strictly line-up

Rutherford has just returned from the Rio Olympics where he won a bronze medal in the long jump final. He announced his taking part in the celebrity dance contest on BBC's The One Show alongside actors Lesley Joseph and Tameka Empson.

Joseph is most remembered for her role in the 1990's hit sitcom Birds of a Feather, where she played promiscuous neighbour Dorien, while Empson rose to prominence in her hidden camera comedy 3 Non-Blondes in 2003. She currently stars on EastEnders as the bubbly but vicious Kim Fox.

Great Sports Relief Bake Off: Who’s who?

BBC, Bake Off, Sports relief, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Jennifer Saunders

This year’s famous cohort of willing amateur bakers features comedians, singers, sports personalities and politicians.

One face that you will not be seeing however, is regular host Sue Perkins who is leaving her long-time performing partner Mel Giedroyc to host it alone for one episode.

Comedians Ed Byrne, Jennifer  Saunders and Sarah Millican will also each take a turn at helm.