FIRST LOOK Strictly Come Dancing 2021

With less than a week to go until this year's launch show, it's time to take a look at the 15 brand new celebrities and their Strictly makeovers!


In this year's Strictly Come Dancing launch show, hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be welcoming our celebrity contestants onto the Strictly dancefloor as they make their dancing debut and we discover which professional dancer they will be paired with.


Once the pairings have been announced the celebrities and professionals will perform an eye-catching group routine, launching the new series in style.


The celebrities waltzing onto our screens this year are Adam Peaty, AJ Odudu, Dan Walker, Greg Wise, John Whaite, Judi Love, Katie McGlynn, Nina Wadia, Rhys Stephenson, Robert Webb, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Sara Davies, Tilly Ramsey, Tom Fletcher and Ugo Monye.



Four world-class new professional dancers will be stepping into the Strictly ballroom this year; World Junior Latin American Champion 2010 and former Dancing With The Stars Ireland professional Kai Widdrington, six-time Latin and Ballroom National Champion in Italy and former Let’s Dance Germany professional Nikita Kuzmin, reigning South African Latin Champion Cameron Lombard and Polish Open Latin Champion 2014 and winner of BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer 2020, Jowita Przystal.



They join the dazzling professional dancers already revealed for the upcoming series: Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu, Neil Jones, and Oti Mabuse.



And returning to the judging panel this year are Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas. In addition to this tremendous trio, Strictly’s longest-serving Professional Dancer, Anton Du Beke, will be swapping his dance shoes for scoring paddles as he joins the judging panel for the entire series, following a two-week stint as a judge during the 2020 series.



Saturday's launch show will feature two incredible routines from the Strictly professionals, one of which will introduce you to our four brand new dancers. Plus reigning champion Bill Bailey returns to the Strictly ballroom and there's a spectacular music performance from Anne Marie.


Adam Peaty MBE

Olympian


"It started off as a joke with my partner Eiri, that I might go on Strictly, and got more and more serious. So, as the talks when on, I said why not!"


Adam Peaty MBE is one of the biggest names in world swimming and was one of the standout stars of this year’s Olympics, where he made history by becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title.


Adam claimed gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics and then again in Tokyo 2020 in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke. As well as his three gold and two silver Olympic medals, he is an eight-time World Champion, a sixteen-time European Champion and a three-time Commonwealth Champion.


The holder of the world record in 50-metre and 100-metre breaststroke events, Adam was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to swimming.



AJ Odudu

TV Presenter


"I believe you've got to be in it to win it. I want to give it 110% and put my best foot forward and hopefully come out victorious. But, with all of that being said, let's get through show one first!"


AJ Odudu is a TV presenter, who has presented a number of shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat, Apocalypse Wow, more recently The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 alongside Mo Gilligan and currently hosts Married At First Sight UK: Afters on E4


She has also guest presented on The One Show, Lorraine and This Morning, alongside hosting the red carpets for the BRITS and TV BAFTA Awards 2021.


She has also written articles for a number of publications, including Vogue, and is Contributing Editor for Grazia Magazine.



Dan Walker

TV Presenter


"The last 18 months has seen so much death, misery, heartache and a lot of people have had the worst 18 months of their lives. I just thought that you don't get many opportunities to do stuff that is just fun and joyful so if you're going to do it, now is a good time to."


Dan Walker has been at the helm of the UK’s most popular morning TV show BBC Breakfast since 2016. He presented BBC Olympic Breakfast throughout this year’s games and regularly presents Match of the Day.


Dan has hosted The NFL show and Football Focus for 12 years before hanging up his boots at the end of last season. He has covered Wimbledon, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, The Derby, the 6 Nations and the Open Golf coverage for the BBC as well as hosted The One Show and Songs of Praise.


In 2019 he was amongst a group of famous faces that climbed Kilimanjaro to help raise funds for Comic Relief. Dan is also a prolific writer, with his most recent book, Remarkable People, published last year.



Greg Wise

Actor


"I am doing it for my lovely sis, a disco diva queen goddess on the dance floor, who died almost exactly five years to the day to when I'm going to start work on this, so she's prodding me hugely. She left this world in a glitterball coffin and my life will be all glitterballs for the next few months, so it seems really appropriate for her."


From Hollywood to Borehamwood, Greg Wise is an actor known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown, Cranford, Walking on Sunshine and his breakout role in Sense and Sensibility.


Greg also wrote box-office hit film Last Christmas with his wife, Emma Thompson, and the book Not That Kind of Love with his late sister Clare Wise.



John Whaite

Chef and TV Presenter


"I want someone who's going to be supportive emotionally because it's going to be an emotional journey. I want someone who will push me, but also someone who is patient because I'm going to want to do maybe 10 or 12 hours a day rehearsing because when I get into something like this, I give my heart and soul to it. I’m a total perfectionist."


John Whaite is a British cook who won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012, at the age of 23, and has presented various TV shows and currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch.


He has written for a variety of newspaper and magazine publications on the topics of food and mental health and has published five cookery books. John also runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen.



Judi Love

Comedian and TV Presenter


"I see myself as my biggest competition because I believe it’s your thoughts and your mind and what you think about yourself that gets you through it."


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.


As well as being a regular panellist on Loose Women, Judi has made appearances on The Jonathan Ross Show, The Graham Norton Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats does Countdown, Celebrity Juice, This Morning, Good Morning Britain, The Stand Up Sketch Show, The Big Narstie Show and Celebrity Masterchef.


During lockdown, Judi set up her Quarantine Date Nights which ran throughout 2020 and 2021, gathering tens of thousands of views as well as countless, budding singletons. She also has a regular column in OK Magazine and was voted Best Breakthrough by the public at the I Talk Telly Awards 2020.



Katie McGlynn

Actor


"Secretly, I've always wanted to be a dancer. I've always admired dancers but I've just never had the time to get into it. I fell in love with acting when I was younger and that's the road that I took, so I’m now living out a childhood dream!"


Katie's Coronation Street role as Sinead Tinker was BAFTA-nominated and she went on to win a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.


Katie was a regular in Waterloo Road, appeared in BBC One dramas The Syndicate and Moving On and currently stars in Hollyoaks as mysterious newcomer Becky Quentin.



Nina Wadia

Actor


"I think Robert Webb is going to be good competition, his Flashdance routine is still ingrained in my brain."


Nina Wadia OBE is known for starring in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours, and for playing Zainab Masood in EastEnders, where she won Best Onscreen Partnership and Best Comedy at the British Soap Awards.


Nina has also starred in theatre productions including the Tony award-winning The Vagina Monologues, and she recently appeared in the live-action film remake of Aladdin.


Nina is also a regular presenter on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live, and she received an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.



Rhys Stephenson

CBBC Presenter


"I'm in it for the experience, but I'm also in it to win. For me, even when I am rubbish, I play to win. I want to know I’ve given it my all and shown what I can do. But I want to champion every single person who's trying to win that glitterball as well!"


Actor and children’s TV presenter Rhys is best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, which he hosts live from CBBC studio HQ.


He has also presented some of the biggest shows across the CBBC slate, including Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and appeared on The Dengineers and Newsround.


Outside of presenting, Rhys is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity that provides mental health services in schools.



Robert Webb

Actor and Author


"Two years ago, I had to have quite a big heart operation, which made me think, ‘This is no time to be cool’. It gave me a slightly different perspective. It was between yes and no and yes felt like the bigger and more generous and more expansive answer. No would have left me feeling like a coward."


BAFTA winner Robert Webb is a television, film and theatre actor well known for his starring roles in Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Back, and for his comedy partnership with David Mitchell.


He is also an acclaimed author, his memoir, How Not To Be A Boy, went on to become a No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller and his debut novel, Come Again, was published last year.


Speaking about joining Strictly, Robert said "I am ludicrously excited to be taking part in Strictly this year. 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."



Rose Ayling-Ellis

Soap Star


"I feel like it’s so important for somebody like me to be on the show, I want to break down the stereotype that deaf people can’t dance and can’t enjoy music."


Actor Rose Ayling-Ellis is best known for her role in EastEnders, which she joined in 2020, playing Frankie Lewis. Rose is the first-ever deaf actor to play a deaf character on the soap.


She has previously appeared in various stage productions, and her other TV credits include Summer of Rockets and Casualty. Rose uses British Sign Language (BSL).



Sara Davies

Entrepreneur and Television Personality


"I am fiercely competitive. I think that comes from the nature of being in the business world, but I can’t picture myself being that good at dancing because I haven't been through the training yet so winning feels like a pipe dream."


Sara was the youngest ever dragon on the panel of entrepreneurs on the popular BBC show Dragons’ Den, when she joined in 2019.


A businesswoman, her company Crafter’s Companion, which she started as a student, now employs almost 250 people worldwide and has earned her the affectionate nickname of the Crafting Queen.


She is the recipient of over 30 business awards and, in 2016, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the economy.



Tilly Ramsay

Chef, Social Media Influencer and CBBC Presenter


"My family have been very excited. The same with friends, except my brother who said ‘you cannot dance’, so I’ll have to prove him wrong!"


Chef, social media influencer and TV presenter Tilly has over 9.5 million followers on TikTok, where she regularly posts funny videos of herself and her Dad, Gordon Ramsay.


She presented Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch on CBBC, which saw her cooking and having adventures along with her family, for which she received three Children’s BAFTA nominations.


And in 2017 she published her first cookery book, inspired by the show, titled: Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly's Kitchen Takeover. Tilly and her Dad also hosted a regular cooking item on This Morning, Big Chef Little Chef.



Tom Fletcher

Author, Composer, Musician, Singer and Songwriter


"I’m not ultra- competitive so I just want to enjoy it. It’s once in a lifetime you get to do this show so I’m not going to become obsessed with being the best dancer out of the celebrities, I just want to know that I’ve done my best."


Best-known as a lead vocalist and guitarist in one of Britain’s most successful bands, McFly, Tom has also penned ten UK number one singles for McFly, as well as written a number of chart-topping songs for bands such as One Direction, Busted and 5 Seconds of Summer.


Alongside his music career, Tom is also one of the UK’s bestselling authors for children, with his books, including The Christmasaurus, The Creakers and There’s a Monster in Your Book, going on to be translated into over 30 languages.



Ugo Monye

Broadcaster, Sports Pundit and former England Rugby Player


"I really want to have a laugh. It’s a competition of course but you want to have the best experience and part of that is having fun and a smile in your face. I want someone to make me work really hard. I’m of the opinion that if you work really hard, you give yourself the best opportunity."


TV presenter and sports pundit Ugo, began his career playing rugby at Harlequins in 2002. Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club, scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.


Since retiring in 2015, Ugo has become a respected face and voice in the world of sports presenting, hosting rugby coverage for BT Sport and ITV as well as the BBC 5 Live Rugby Union Weekly podcast.


In July 2021, it was announced that Ugo would be one of the new team Captains on BBC One's A Question of Sport. Ugo’s commitment to making rugby more accessible for all has seen him recently named the first-ever Chairman of England Rugby’s new Diversity and Inclusion committee.



Strictly Come Dancing returns Saturday 18th September at 7.45pm on BBC One