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Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants get glam makeover ahead of series launch

Strictly Come Dancing lineup revealed!

Strictly Come Dancing line up: (L/R) Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

The cast of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 have been given a glam makeover ahead of the show's launch!

Strictly Come Dancing will return to our screens on Saturday, 18 September on BBC One with hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

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The pair will welcome this year's 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.

Returning to the glamorous judging panel once again are acid tongued Craig Revel Horwood, Let’s Dance Germany judge Motsi Mabuse and The Queen of Latin herself, 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.

Ahead of the launch next Saturday, meet the contestants below...

Tom Fletcher

Singer and musician from McFly.

Tom Fletcher - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Tom Fletcher - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Tom says of signing up: "I’ve wanted to take part for a long time, secretly since my band mate did it in 2011. Then this year, my son Buzz was the deciding factor for me, he’s really got into the show over the last couple of years, he especially loved Chris Ramsay in it and Jamie Laing. Staying up on a Saturday night for it has become our thing and he’s at an age where that’s really exciting for him. So when the call came through he was at the forefront of my mind."

On what he's looking for in a dance partner, Tom shares: "I just want someone who’s going to have a good time and make it a good experience. 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

"My favourite dances from Strictly are the ones where they look like they’re just having the best time and when we’re on the dancefloor I want to not be worrying about my score or how I compare to everyone else, I just want to be looking at my partner and really enjoying the dance we’re doing together. So I really hope I find someone who shares that mentality. "

 

Robert Webb

Actor, author and comedian.

Robert Webb - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Robert Webb - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

On signing up for Strictly, Robert says: "It's just a straightforward wish to jump up and down in funny costumes for the viewing pleasure of the ladies and gentlemen of the British public mainly. There's also the fact that 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. "

On what he's looking for in a dance partner, Robert says: "She's got to be very, very patient and have fabulous forgiveness because I'm a pretty slow learner. Once I’ve got it, I usually make a reasonable attempt to sell it but it takes a while for me to get it. So just a very patient person please!"

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AJ Odudu

TV presenter

AJ Odudu - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
AJ Odudu - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Says AJ: "With everything that’s happened with the pandemic, I just knew that I wanted to get back out there. I've not been to a nightclub in two years, I've not been to a festival in two years and I've not been to the famous working men's clubs around the northwest of England in over two years!

"I've not socialised, I've not danced and I've not listened to music in a normal capacity so what a better way than to just get ‘Strictly-fied’ and be reintroduced to all of that in the best way possible - on the Strictly ballroom floor!"

On what she's after in her dance partner, AJ says: "I am looking for someone who's really firm, strict, wants to get the best out of me and wants to work me hard because I'm really unprepared to work very hard, but I also want someone who is up for a laugh. So someone who is a bit cheeky but knows how to put me in my place because I am a Northern lass who is a lot to handle."

 

John Whaite

TV chef and cookery author.

John Waite - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
John Waite - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Says John: "I wanted to take part in Strictly because I like sequins and I like fake tan! I used to dance when I was younger, I did ballet and modern and tap, and I really want to get back into it. I have never learnt Ballroom or Latin so I can’t wait to learn."

John, who will be dancing in a same-sex partnership, says of what he wants from his professional: "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, which can sometimes be a negative thing as I know I need to relax. So I hope I have a partner who will support that and also someone who's going to be really good fun."

 

Rhys Stephenson

Actor and children's TV presenter

Rhys Stephenson - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Rhys Stephenson - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Says Rhys: "I was a fan ever since I saw Jay McGuinness do that jive, it was immense. So after that I've always, secretly, hoped to do the show. Seeing Karim do it two years ago, and how much fun he had, that solidified it for me that it would be such a cool thing to do.

"I spoke to Karim and also to Joe Sugg, and they both made it to the finals, so fingers crossed! They both said, just enjoy it, but you cannot slack off in your training. Other than that, they've just told me to really embrace the whole thing because it's such a once in a lifetime opportunity."

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Sara Davies MBE

Dragons' Den entrepreneur and television personality

Sara Davies - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Sara Davies - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

"It’s been a dream I've had my whole life," says Sara of joining Strictly. "It’s always been something that I never thought would be achievable. When I got on the panel of Dragon's Den, alongside Deborah Meaden, she would talk about it all the time and people would say to me ‘You might be asked to go on Strictly next!’ And now here we are! "

On what she wants from her pro partner, Sara shares: "I am really keen to work massively hard and really push myself, so I need somebody who's not going to go easy on me. I want someone who's actually going to push me and won’t settle for just OK, that's what I'm really looking for. "

 

Dan Walker

BBC Breakfast host

Dan Walker - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Dan Walker - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

On why he signed up, Dan says: "I’m taking part for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, my kids. They never asked me to do any specific shows other than Saturday Mashup and Strictly. So, I did Saturday Mash Up and then they said if you get asked to do Strictly, please say yes. So I said yes!

"The other reason is because I work in news, 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."

On what he's after for in a partner, 6ft 6in Dan adds: "Patience and height! Just somebody’s who is a good teacher (which they all are) and someone who is willing to work with raw material!"

 

Katie McGlynn

Actress

Katie McGlynn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Katie McGlynn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Says Katie: "Every year I watch Strictly Come Dancing and I just think that everyone has the time of the life doing it, so I’ve always wanted to do it. 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! I am well excited for the sequins, the glitz, the glamour and learning a new skill. I actually just want to learn how to dance because I haven't got a clue! "

On what she wants from her professional partner, Katie says: "I'm looking for somebody who is fun and up for a laugh. I want to work hard because I am a grafter, but at the end of the day I want to have some fun and I think that's what we're here for. I want to have a really nice, pleasant experience. So, someone who's tall, who's looking for a laugh and someone who can teach me some new moves! They’d also need a lot of patience too actually because I think I might be a bit slow in picking the dance moves up!"

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Matilda 'Tilly' Ramsay

Chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter

Tilly Ramsay - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Tilly Ramsay - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Tilly says: "I'm really excited to have a challenge, and to learn how to dance and push myself out of my comfort zone. I tried dancing when I was much younger, but that definitely wasn't for me. Mum put us in ballet school but I wasn’t very good so I ended up at football camp with my brother. "

On what she wants from a dance partner, Tilly adds: "I am looking for someone who's patient with me because it might take me a while, and someone who's just going to have fun and enjoy it with me."

 

Greg Wise

Actor, writer and producer

Greg Wise - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Greg Wise - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

On why he signed up, Greg says: "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. "

On what he wants from his partner, Greg adds: "I'm looking for someone who will be strict and rigorous and make me concentrate. Also someone who will be able to have a laugh with and we can have some fun with it."

 

Nina Wadia

Actress

Nina Wadia - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Nina Wadia - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Asked why she signed up for this year's show, Nina says: "This year feels like the perfect year to just let off steam. It's been a bit of a dark time for a lot of people, and it certainly was in our family as well, so I just want to go out and enjoy my life. "

On what she's looking for in a dance partner, Nina adds: "Someone who's fun and who's going to make learning fun and make dancing fun. That's what I care about. I need someone who is going to be a bit strict, because I might slack off if I get the chance, but I want to make sure I am happy."

 

Rose Ayling-Ellis

EastEnders star

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Rose Ayling-Ellis - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Rose Ayling-Ellis - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Rose says of signing up for Strictly: "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. When the news came out my phone went mad. I have been really lucky that everyone has been super supportive, my deaf friends in particular are so excited for me."

On what Rose is looking for in a dance partner, she adds: "I’m looking for someone that can communicate very well, because in sign language we speak very literally, so I need someone who understands that. I am a good student but I need someone that will push me. "

 

Adam Peaty

Olympic swimmer

Adam Peaty - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Adam Peaty - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Adam says of signing up for Strictly: "It’s just about pushing myself and having a different challenge. I think it's important to continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. So, I signed up to Strictly with no dancing experience.. probably minus dancing experience actually!

"I love ballroom and I’m really into classical music so I’m looking forward to that. I’m a fan of all types of music but I love anything with big energy."

Asked what he's looking for in a dance partner, Adam shares: "Confidence and humour as I rely on humour a lot in my day to day life. Someone who knows how to be strict and also when to be relaxed is very important. For instance, my coach who I've been working with almost 15 years can be very strict but she also knows when to have a laugh. So, humour with a bit of strictness, I guess."

 

Judi Love

Comedian, presenter and regular panellist on Loose Women

Judi Love - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Judi Love - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Judi says of signing up for Strictly: "It's such a fantastic opportunity, especially after the last 18 months. Also, to have something to really look forward to and have the chance to develop a new skill is most people's dream. I'm just excited to take part in a show that has such a phenomenal reputation of seeing people push themselves in something new."

On what she wants from a dance partner, Judi says: "Someone who’s really determined to bring out the dancer in me. Someone who’s not going to be too fluffy. I want someone who’s going to push me but be compassionate - compassionate but tough!"

 

Ugo Monye

Former England rugby player turned sports pundit

Ugo Monye - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Ugo Monye - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

"When Strictly comes calling you have to accept!" says Ugo. "It's the biggest entertainment show on TV and it's consistently been that for well over a decade. In my previous life, I played rugby, learned how to focus, have drive and passion. Although I absolutely love what I do, I’m now able to fully step out of my lane and have a brand new challenge. Every single day you get to learn a new skill and you're doing it on the biggest of all stages, so that was really enticing to me.

"I had both of my girls, Phoenix and Ruby after I retired and I would have loved them to watch me play rugby but both my girls, especially my eldest Phoenix, loves dance and she does ballet every single week. She’s obsessed by it and now she’s of an age where she can watch the show over a weekend and watch her Daddy on TV. So I'm really excited about that. It just felt like all the stars were now aligned. "

On what he's looking for in his pro partner, Ugo adds: "I like to think I’d be an obedient student. 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."

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Strictly Come Dancing launches on Saturday, 18 September with the live shows following the next weekend on 25 September.

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