Strictly 2021

Strictly's back and suddenly the world seems to make more sense. Peter Gray reports.

-London's Best Events-

It’s that time of year again – the days are drawing in, the air suddenly feels cooler, and the department stores have begun opening their Christmas shops.

Yup, it can only mean one thing – it’s Strictly Time, baby! The BBC blockbuster is back and suddenly the world makes sense again.

Here’s the lowdown on this year’s lineup:

1)Robert Webb

A dark horse for this year’s competition, Peep Show star Robert Webb previously won 2009’s Let Dance for Comic Relief. Performing Irene Cara’s What A Feeling, Webb seriously impressed the judges with his high explosive dance routine.

The comedian seems genuinely excited to be back in the spandex, too, telling the BBC that he was looking forward to getting “fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman”. OK then. 

2)AJ Adudu

Strictly contestant AJ Adudu has said that she would welcome the criticism that comes with appearing in the popular BBC show, although she  cannot guarantee that her mum will be so forgiving.

“I just want to listen and learn, to be honest”, says Adudu, who has featured on such popular shows as The Voice, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side and Don’t Rock The Boat. The star is not so sure her mother would feel the same way about criticism leveled at her daughter, however. She’s “like any mum – really protective” Adudu explains. OK, well you can’t say you haven’t been warned, Craig! 

3)John Whaite

2021’s Strictly is a series of firsts it seems. Not content to showcase the programme’s first ever deaf contestant, this year’s show will also play host to the first all male couple, with Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite teaming up with a as yet unidentified dancer on the programme. 

The fourth celebrity to be announced for this year’s show, Whaite came to prominence by winning the 2012 series of the Great British Bake Off. Since then, the cook has established himself as a TV presenter with appearances on everything from Steph’s Packed Lunch to This Morning. Can the baking enthusiast turn up the heat on the dance floor as easily as he turns up the heat on his oven, however? You’ll have to tune in to find out. 

4)Rhys Stephenson

CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson says that he is hoping to show his more serious side on the BBC dancing extravaganza. “CBBC is where I came from, that’s my home at the moment” says the presenter about his day job. “So I obviously want to show that humour – humour is a big part of me. 

However, I can’t wait to kind of scare people. I want people to look and go ‘Oh, that’s a bit intense, I didn’t know Rhys could do that’,” he continued.

5)Sara Davies

When the producers of Strictly announced the series’ sixth contestant, eyebrows were understandably raised. Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies may have an MBE, but she is certainly not known for her dance moves. The entrepreneur admitted as much when she was interviewed by the BBC for the series. 

“The producers keep asking me if I can dance” Davies told the interviewer. “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 dance floor!”

6)Kate McGlynn

28-year-old actress Kate McGlynn is no stranger to winning awards having won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in Coronation Street. However, only time will tell whether she has what it takes to win the coveted Glitterball trophy. 

The star, who has also starred in Waterloo Road and The Syndicate, is best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in ITV soap Coronation Street, who she has played since 2012. 

7)Dan Walker

BBC Breakfast Presenter Dan Walker won himself a whole new set of fans recently when he recreated the famous John Barnes rap from the pop classic World In Motion. The 30 second clip went viral on Tik Tok and Walker received praise for his impressive spitting skills. 

Now the presenter looks set to repeat the trick on an even bigger stage with his appearance on Strictly 2021. Let’s just hope his dancing skills are as slick as his rapping! 

8)Tilly Ramsay

Social Media star Tilly Ramsay has attracted millions of followers on social media with her charming mix of pranks and dance moves. Alongside her celebrity dad, Gordon Ramsay, the young star has wracked up a phenomenal 9.5 million followers on Tik Tok, becoming one of the app’s most recognisable faces in the process. 

Now the young star looks set to bring her Gen Z audience to the BBC flagship, with Ramsay declaring herself ‘thrilled’ to be included in the lineup for the show. 

9)Greg Wise

Best known for playing period characters like John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility and Lord Louis Mountbatten in The Crown, Greg Wise is also well known for the other half of Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson.

However, it is not Thompson but rather his sister Claire who inspired Wise to join the BBC show. Claire Wise died of cancer in February 2018 and the actor is determined to honour his sister’s memory by appearing on the BBC blockbuster. 

10)Nina Wadia

Former EastEnders star Nina Wadia may not seem like the most likely Strictly contestant. The actress, who has also appeared in the hit BBC comedy Goodness Gracious Me, has ben quoted as saying that she “likes dancing like no one’s watching. So we just need to blindfold the judges and I’ll win!”

Well, that might not be possible but Wadia will be giving it her all to try to bring home the glitterball trophy this winter.

11)Rose Ayling-Ellis

If Rosie Ayling-Ellis fails to win this year’s Strictly, the judges may well have her EastEnders dad Mick Carter to deal with. 

Notoriously protective of his brood, Carter is even more protective of his recently discovered daughter Frankie due to her troubled past. 

Ayling-Ellis is set to make history on the show whatever happens, however, as she is the programme’s first ever deaf contestant. 

Her inclusion on Strictly may have caused some to wonder how she would hear the music but Ayling-Ellis is keen to challenge the stereotype that deaf people can’t hear and enjoy music. 

12)Adam Peaty

Olympic gold medal swimmer Adam Peaty has admitted that he is not sure what to expect from his up and coming appearance on Strictly, telling the BBC that “it’s going to be ‘very very different”.

The swimmer, 26, who signed up because he wanted a’ different experience after the stress of the Olympics, said “I’m used to being in the water, I’m not used to being on land against gravity, but hopefully my hips are quite fluid. 

‘I think it’s very important to be challenged in life, I’m a sportsperson so I’m constantly being challenged, but I felt I needed to take a bit of time away from swimming, it’s all about the challenge.

13)Judi Love

Comedienne Judi is thrilled to be in the starting line up this year, telling the BBC:

‘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!’

14)Ugo Monye

Every year the Strictly producers like to throw in the odd curve ball or two with regards to the show’s contestants. In the past this has meant the inclusion of the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ed Balls and John Seargeant. 

Well, the show has done it again this year with the inclusion of former rugby player and broadcaster, Ugo Monye. The sportsman, who is best known for his exploits with the Harlequins, is now a respected TV presenter, hosting rugby coverage for BT Sport and ITV. 

However, Monye has clearly been hiding a little secret, with the star welcoming his somewhat surprising career change. “I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins!” he says, to the Radio Times. 

15)Tom Fletcher

Singer and guitarist Fletcher is the second member of pop band McFly to perform on Strictly after bandmate Harry Judd sashayed off with the glitterball trophy in 2010.

His wife Aliona Vilani is no stranger to primetime TV either with the star winning the last series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Strictly 2021begins on the 18th of September 2021 on BBC1 on BBC1. More information about the programme can be found here.

Information on other great TV to watch can be found here.

-London's Best Events-
What: ballroom dancing
When: Sat 7.45pm
Where: London
Website: BBC Strictly