Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is approaching faster than a mirror ball down a steep hill. So here are the latest season's contestants, who they are, and what we know about about the show so far.
If you're anything like us, the question 'when does Strictly Come Dancing 2021 start' has been typed into your Google search engine more times than you can count.
This BBC dance competition has earned a cult fanbase ever since it first hit screens back in 2004, and after more than a decade on air, it looks like its popularity isn't going anywhere. The glitzy reality show is finally back following months of anticipation for its 19th season, and if the previews are anything to go by, the year's series could be its best one yet.
The Strictly Come Dancing 2021 judges will soon be back and recent details about the Strictly Come Dancing launch show 2021 have revealed that the show will feature its first same-sex male couple—a long overdue but very welcome addition to the historically heteronormative casting.
As ever, the BBC has revealed the final 15 contestants and we're already counting down the days until we can get to know them all intimately!
Here's who's starring in Strictly 2021.
Strictly 2021's contestants, who are they?
- Tom Fletcher.
- Robert Webb.
- AJ Odudu.
- John Whaite.
- Nina Wadia.
- Rhys Stephenson.
- Sara Davies.
- Dan Walker.
- Ugo Monye.
- Katie McGlynn.
- Judi Love.
- Greg Wise.
- Rhys Stephenson.
- Tilly Ramsay.
- Adam Peaty.
Strictly 2021 lineup: everything to know about this year's contestants
The first woman to be added to the lineup is the brilliant AJ Odudu. AJ is best known for her work as a TV presenter.
Competing on Strictly is such a huge achievement, and the presenter is, “beyond chuffed." However, for this loyal daughter, it's all about being able to tell the special lady in her life, her mum! "I'm so glad I can finally tell my mum," she said. "Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon!"
The talented host has worked on shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow. She's also guest-hosted Lorraine and The One Show.
Fans of glam award shows probably recognize her for her hosting duties on red carpets for the BRITs and the BAFTA Awards 2021.
AJ has also added her words to publications including Vogue, and is Contributing Editor for Grazia magazine.
AJ is promising us a lot of entertainment this season. She said, "I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!”
If every season has a funny man, there's no doubt the one and only Robert Webb will have us all in stitches this year.
On the upcoming series, he said, "I am ludicrously excited to be taking part in Strictly this year. It’s a big, generous, joyful show."
Robert is an actor and writer; with success in television, film and theatre. The BAFTA winner's work includes the brilliant Peep Show, That Mitchell And Webb Look and Back.
The funnyman is sure to be well versed in being one half of a performing couple as he's had an incredibly successful comedy partnership with David Mitchell.
Outside of his acting, Robert is well known for his work as an author. So far he's had a Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller in the form of his memoir, How Not To Be A Boy. As well as this his debut novel, Come Again, was published last year.
The comic said that he, "can’t wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman." Adding, "at least I think that’s what happens."
Guaranteeing us all a good laugh he said his goal is, "to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders."
In all seriousness, Robert made it clear he's up for the challenge. He said, "To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing."
Tom Fletcher is an author, composer, musician, singer and songwriter.
"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!", he said of the exciting news.
He's best known as the lead singer in the much-loved boyband McFly and has written a remarkable 10 UK number one singles for McFly, as well as a number of hits for bands including One Direction, Busted and 5 Seconds Of Summer.
Tom's also known as being one half of a power couple. His wife, Giovanna Fletcher, starred on I'm A Celeb and is the host of the Happy Mum podcast.
The dad-of-three has added his insight into what makes kids tick in the form of his bestselling children's books including The Christmasaurus, The Creakers and There’s A Monster In Your Book.
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.”
"I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family," says former GBBO champ John Whaite.
"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."
Since John won the third series of GBBO, back in 2012 aged only 23, his rise has been meteoric.
The talented chef is about to make history as one half of the first-ever same-sex male couple in the show's history! John says this is a "great step forward in representation and inclusion." Adding, "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!”
John sure does know his way around a TV studio as he's presented TV shows and currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch.
As well as his hosting and cooking duties he has also written for a variety of newspaper and magazine publications on the topics of food and mental health—on top of five cookery books.
John also runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen, where you can learn how to be almost as brilliant a chef as he is!
“I am BUZZING to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing 2021," says actor and children’s TV presenter Rhys Stephenson.
Rhys is best known as the face of kids TV station CBBC. As well as hosting from CBCC studio HQ, he's also presented loads of shows on the network. These include Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and he's also appeared on The Dengineers and Newsround.
According to the presenter, featuring on Strictly is a dream come true. "I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation," he says.
As well as his TV work, Outside of presenting, Rhys is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity that provides vital mental health services in schools.
The talented star is looking forward to the highs and lows of the dancing competition. He says, "I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am READY!"
"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!"
Sara Davies is an entrepreneur and TV personality best known for her role on the panel of entrepreneurs on the BBC show Dragons’ Den. When she joined the show back in 2019, she was the youngest ever dragon on the panel.
Sara says it's been a while since she's busted a move. "I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little," she says. However, the business woman is sure that her passion and hard work ethic will transfer nicely to her latest role. "The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dance floor," she says. Adding, "I’m excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum-tum!”
Her success as a businesswoman is undeniable and her company, Crafter’s Companion, now employs almost 250 people worldwide. The company, which she started as a student, has earned her the affectionate nickname of the Crafting Queen.
She has 30 business awards and was appointed Member Of The Order Of The British Empire (MBE) in 2016 for services to the economy.
"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!"
Katie McGlynn is an actor best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street. She was BAFTA nominated and won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020; for her performance as Sinead.
The well known actor might have to do her best performance ever—as someone who can bust a move! "I’m really not a dancer," she says. "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."
Katie was a regular in the hit show Waterloo Road, and she's appeared on BBC One dramas The Syndicate and Moving On. Fans of Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks will recognise her as mysterious newcomer Becky Quentin.
Ahead of her latest performance the star says, "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."
“I am definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding!," says Dan Walker. Dan is a presenter, writer and broadcaster.
Dan has hosted the UK’s most popular morning TV show BBC Breakfast since 2016. He presented BBC Olympic Breakfast throughout this year’s games as well as numerous other sporting programmes like Match of the Day. He's also hosted The One Show and Songs Of Praise.
The host is excited not only to live out his own dreams, but those laid down by his children. "My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows - Saturday Mash Up and Strictly," he says. "I did Saturday Mash Up this summer so…it’s time to embrace the sequins."
In 2019 he was one of the famous faces that climbed Kilimanjaro to help raise funds for Comic Relief. He's also a published writer, with his most recent book, Remarkable People, published last year.
"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."
Tilly Ramsay is a chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter. Her parents, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and Tana Ramsay, recorded a video message congratulating their youngest daughter—which she saw live on This Morning following the announcement that she's starring in Strictly.
Gordon said, "Hey Tils, it's your dad, TikTok coach, dance extraordinaire. Wishing you all the very best, we're proud of you girl. Love you!"
Proud mum Tana added her own congrats, but made sure to tease her hubby along the way. "She's leaving you far behind in the dance stakes, thank goodness it's her instead of you. Tilly, you're incredibly brave. I'm terrified, but so excited for you. Good luck."
The end of this fun video came with a stern warning from her darling dad who said, "And don't date those dancers!"
Tana, on behalf of her daughter said, "Can you stop?"
The parents needn't worry about her lovelife because it's all business for this young chef, social media influencer and TV presenter. "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," she says. "Bring on the glitz, glamour and sequins!"
Tilly has over 9.5 million followers on TikTok, where she regularly posts funny videos of herself and her Dad. The talented young woman has already had a stellar career and she's quickly following in her dad's footsteps as a celebrity chef. She presented Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch on CBBC, for which she received three Children’s Bafta nominations. She published her first cookery book, inspired by the show, Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly's Kitchen Takeover, back in 2017. Tilly and her Dad also hosted a regular cooking item on This Morning, Big Chef Little Chef.
Greg Wise is an actor, writer and producer and is married to British actress Emma Thompson.
His decision to star in the show is for the most touching reason. "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."
Greg is recogniseable for his various film, television and theatre roles. These include The Crown, Cranford, Walking On Sunshine and 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.
Discussing Clare he says, "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..."
Nina Wadia OBE
"I've always danced like nobody's watching, so if we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021."
Nina Wadia OBE is an actor and is well known for many iconic roles throughout her career. Nina starred in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Open All Hours, its spin-off Still Open All Hours, and for playing Zainab Masood on EastEnders. It's for this role that she won Best Onscreen Partnership and Best Comedy at the British Soap Awards.
She recently appeared in the live-action film remake of Aladdin and as well as a regular presenter on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live.
Nina also treads the boards and is an award-winning theatre star too. Her performances include the Tony award-winning The Vagina Monologues.
She received an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment in honor of her work as a JDRF ambassador. JDRF is a charity dedicated to Type 1 diabetes research and advocacy.
Rose Ayling-Ellis is an actor and the first-ever deaf contestant in the show's history.
She says, "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!"
The talented young actor 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 also starred in stage productions, and her other TV credits include Summer of Rockets and Casualty. Rose use British Sign Language (BSL).
Rose says, "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!”
"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," says Adam Peaty MBE.
Adam is an Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth British swimming champion, and he's optimistic that his experience in all of the above events will give him an edge. "I’m hoping my competitive nature is going to compensate for my dancing abilities!"
Adam 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, after claiming gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics and 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.
"I think I am still in shock that I will be part of this amazing show," says comedian and presenter Judi Love.
She says, "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."
As well as her stand up comedy fame, 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 panelist on Loose Women, Judi has appeared 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.
Hardworking Judi is ready for the challenge ahead. "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!"
Not unfamiliar to adapting to new situations, Judi made the most of the lockdown. She set up her Quarantine Date Nights which ran throughout 2020 and 2021, gathering tens of thousands of views as well as countless, budding singletons. As well as this she also has a regular column in OK! Magazine.
“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," says Ugo Monye.
Ugo is a broadcaster, sports pundit and former England rugby player.
The star began his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo and went on to make 241 appearances for the club, scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
"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 he retired 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. His 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.
Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.
She's an Irish journalist and writer with over 1500 bylines and a background in creative writing, comedy and TV production.
Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the soon-to-be-published Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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