Keep dancing! The celebrity contestants set to appear on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing 2021 revealed
- Credit: BBC
The secret is out and the Strictly Come Dancing class of 2021 has been announced.
The multi-award-winning entertainment show, produced by BBC Studios, will return to BBC One for its 19th series this autumn, once again bringing glitter, glamour and glorious dancing to Saturday and Sunday nights.
The first three celebrities taking to the Strictly ballroom at Hertfordshire's Elstree Studios were confirmed on The One Show by presenters Alex Jones and Amol Rajan on Wednesday, August 4.
Set to dance in Strictly's new series are McFly's Tom Fletcher, comedian and Peep Show star Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
Former The Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite was the fourth contestant confirmed for Strictly 2021 line-up.
CBBC children’s TV presenter Rhys Stephenson and entrepreneur Sara Davies, the youngest ever dragon on the panel on popular BBC show Dragons’ Den when she joined in 2019, have also been announced.
Also joining the celebs will be Katie McGlynn, who has appeared in Coronation Street, Waterloo Road and Hollyoaks, and BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker.
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TV presenter, social media influencer and chef Matilda 'Tilly' Ramsay, the daughter of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, has also joined the line-up, as has actor Greg Wise.
The 11th contestant announced was former EastEnders star Nina Wadia OBE, with EastEnders' Rose Ayling-Ellis also lined up.
Also joining the cast are Olympic gold medal-winner swimmer Adam Peaty MBE, Judi Love, and former England rugby international Ugo Monye.
So who is appearing on Strictly Come Dancing 2021?
1. Tom Fletcher
McFly chart-topper Tom Fletcher will be following in the dance steps of bandmate Harry Judd.
McFly drummer Judd and his partner Aliona Vilani won the 2011 Strictly final.
Giovanna Fletcher, Tom's wife, was also the I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! 2020 winner and crowned Queen of the Castle at Gwrych Castle in North Wales.
No pressure then, Tom!
McFly's number one hits include 5 Colours in Her Hair, I'll Be OK, and Don't Stop Me Now.
As well as being lead vocalist and guitarist in the group, 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.
Tom said: “I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in while I’m writing this! I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified!
"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.”
2. Robert Webb
Comedian and author Robert Webb will be taking to the Strictly dancefloor this year having previously performed What a Feeling from Flashdance on BBC One's Let's Dance for Comic Relief.
He tweeted: "Which week is Freestyle Disco? #Strictly2021"
The BAFTA-winner is best known for appearing as Jeremy 'Jez' Usborne in Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show with David Mitchell. The pair also starred in That Mitchell and Webb Look, with one of the show's recurring sketches the Numberwang 'maths quiz' game show.
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!
"My goal is to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders. 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.”
3. AJ Odudu
TV presenter AJ Odudu was the co-presenter of the Channel 5 reality show spin-off Big Brother's Bit on the Side and more recently was a contestant on ITV's Cooking With The Stars.
AJ has also presented a number of shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow, and has been announced as the co-presenter of the revived The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 alongside comedian Mo Gilligan.
AJ 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.
"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. Bring it on!”
4. John Whaite
From rum baba to the Rumba, new Strictly contestant John Whaite won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012.
John has since appeared as a resident chef on ITV's Lorraine programme, co-presented Chopping Block and now regularly cooks on Steph's Packed Lunch.
On Strictly, chef, TV presenter and cookery author John Whaite will take to the dancefloor as part of the show's first all-male competitive partnership.
The news was revealed on Thursday, August 5 on Zoe Ball’s Breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, where Matt Lucas was filling in.
John said: “I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family.
"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.
"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!”
5. Rhys Stephenson
Actor and children’s TV presenter Rhys Stephenson is best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, which he hosts live from CBBC studio HQ.
Rhys 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!”
6. Sara Davies
Businesswoman Sara Davies MBE will be swapping BBC show Dragons’ Den for the ballroom on Strictly.
Sara 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!”
7. Katie McGlynn
Actress Katie McGlynn is best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street, for which she was BAFTA nominated and won 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.
Katie said: “It’s been so hard keeping it a secret, but I can finally say that I’m getting ready to shake my shimmy and become part of the Strictly family!"
The news was revealed on Tuesday, August 10 on BBC Breakfast on BBC One.
"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 Katie.
"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! As long as I don't fall over I'll be happy."
8. Dan Walker
Dan Walker is the eighth celebrity contestant confirmed for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The BBC Breakfast and Match Of The Day presenter said: "“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.”
9. Matilda 'Tilly' Ramsay
Tilly Ramsay is a chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter of Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch.
She also happens to be the daughter of Gordon Ramsay, who regularly features in her TikTok videos.
Tilly 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!”
10. Greg Wise
Actor, writer and producer Greg Wise was the 10th contestant confirmed for the brand new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Greg said: “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.
"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...”
Greg's various film, television and theatre roles included The Crown, Cranford, Walking On Sunshine and his breakout role in Sense And Sensibility.
He also wrote the 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.
11. Nina Wadia
Nina Wadia OBE is an actor known for roles including starring in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours.
She also played Zainab Masood in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, where she won ‘Best Onscreen Partnership’ and ‘Best Comedy’ at the British Soap Awards.
“I've always danced like nobody's watching, so if we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021,” said Nina.
A JDRF ambassador, she received an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.
12. Rose Ayling-Ellis
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 said: “To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary.
"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!”
Rose use British Sign Language (BSL).
13. Adam Peaty
It will be from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics podium to the Strictly dancefloor for gold medal winning swimmer Adam Peaty MBE.
The first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title, Peaty is an Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth swimming champion.
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!”
14. Judi Love
Straight-talking comedian and presenter Judi Love is a regular panellist on Loose Women.
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!”
Judi has also 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.
15. Ugo Monye
Ugo Monye is the 15th and final celebrity contestant confirmed for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The former Harlequins and England rugby player is now a broadcaster and sports pundit.
Ugo 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!”
Since retiring from top-flight rugby 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.