Strictly 2020

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

Credit: BBC

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 show is back on the box and suddenly everything seems alright again. Here’s the lowdown on this year’s lineup:

1) Caroline Quentin

The Men Behaving Badly, Life Begins and Jonathan Creek star was the first celebrity to be announced for Strictly 2020 with the 60 year old commenting on her inclusion: “I hope my knees dont let me down”. Unfortunately, it seems that the media share her concerns with the actress already installed as the favourite to leave the competition first.

2)Jason Bell

The second star to be announced for this year’s ballroom extravaganza may have had British Strictly fans scratching their heads, but former American Footballer Jason Bell is a big deal in his native land. 

While playing for the Houston Texans, Bell was awarded the prestigous Ed Block Courage Award, which is one of the league’s most important and sought after honours. After finishing his career playing for the New York Giants, Bell’s final transfer took him to the BBC where he now presents the NFL Show on BBC1.

3)Max George

The third star to be announced for the series was Max George – the devilishly handsome lead singer from the Wanted band. The band are best remembered for songs like All Time Low, Chasing The Sun and Heart Vacancy. By signing up for Strictly, Max is following in the footsteps of his bandmate Jay McGuiness, who won the show in 2015 with his partner Aliona Vilani.

4)Ravir Singh

Breakfast TV Newsreader/Presenter Ranvir Singh announced that she was the fourth Strictly finalist, appropriately enough, on Break TV. As Piers Morgan feigned shock and asked his GMB co-star whether she could dance, Singh replied: “I don’t know. We’ll find out. I dance at weddings!”

5)Clara Amfo

Radio DJ Clara Amfo was the fifth star to be confirmed for the Strictly 2020 line up. The celebrity, who currently hosts the mid morning show on BBC Radio 1, admitted that she was delighted to have been selected for the show, saying:  “As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy, so to be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dancefloor!”

6)Nicola Adams

Two time Olympic Boxing champion Nicola Adams is set to make history on the BBC flagship with the first same sex dancing couple in the show’s history.

The show has flirted with a same sex pairing in the past, memorably with a headline grabbing dance by two of the programme’s professional male dancers during the 2019 series. However, 2020 marks the first time that a same sex couple will dance in the official competition.

Bailey was clearly thrilled with her inclusion in the lineup, saying in a statement: “It’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.. I’m really excited to be joining this year’s incredible line-up for Strictly Come Dancing. I’m a huge fan of the show and am thrilled to be part of something that holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts.’

7)Bill Bailey

Every year Strictly throws us a curve ball and this year, comedian Bill Bailey might just be it. Bailey’s inclusion on the show was confirmed on Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show and with the comedian quickly conceding that his dancing was “a little patchy”. Which, in Strictly terms, pretty much guarantees unmissable TV.

8)JJ Chambers

Invictus Games star JJ Chambers was the eighth star to be revealed for this year’s dance extravaganza. The celebrity should certainly be fit emough to stay the distance on the show, with a career as a Royal Marine behind him.  The former solder served in Helmand, Afghanistan, during the Afghanistan war but after forging a new career for himself in media, he is keen to show off his stuff on the television. “‘My whole life is defined by facing challenges. Whether it’s becoming a Royal Marine Commando, recovering from my injuries sustained in Afghanistan to competing in The Invictus Games” he told the BBC recently.

9) Jaime Laing

It might just be a case of second time lucky for Made In Chelsea star Jaime Laing. The celebrity, who also owns the confectionery company Candy Kittens, was due to appear on the show in 2019, yet due to a last minute mishap (the star suffered a foot injury two days before the competition was due to began) Laing was reluctantly forced to pull out. Now he’s back and it seems like the reality star is eager to make up for lost time. Speaking to Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on This Morning, the star said: “I’m back, I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing. I’m super excited for it.’

10)Maisie Smith

EastEnders Maisie Smith would be the first to admit that 2020 has been a challenging year but the young actress is determined to go exit the year on a high – as her inclusion in the cast of this year’s Strictly demonstrates. Smith has called her appearance on the show “a dream come true” and her Walford co-stars seem just as made up for the celebrity, with fellow EastEnder Louise Lytton tweeting “Knew it would happen. Winner”.

11) HRVY

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him yet because viewers have the whole winter to get accustomed to pop singer HRVY.
The celebrity, whose real name is Harvey Leigh Cantwell, is certainly a big deal on social media right now. With a Instagram following of more than 10 million people, the UK’s teenagers will certainly not struggle to place a face when the star treads the boards at Television Centre.

The star certainly seems excited to be part of the Strictly family for 2020, telling the BBC: “Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part”. Although, it seems like his mum is even more excited by the star’s inclusion. “I think my mum is more excited that she’ll be able to see me every Saturday night now!” HRVY added.

12)Jacqui Smith

The final celebrity in this year’s television dance extravagazana was revealed on Steve Wright’s BBC radio 2 show. And wasn’t it worth waiting for? Jacqui Smith is no stranger to a television studio but she is more accustomed to the austere of the House of Commons than a television studio at Television Centre. Britain’s first female home secretary has certainly got her work cut out making it to the final two but if she proves as tough an opponent as she did at the ballot box – then she certainly has a chance.

Smith was clearly thrilled by the chance to strut her funky stuff on TV, telling the BBC that she was “speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly”.

Strictly 2020 is on BBC1 on Saturday nights until Christmas. 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 7.10pm
Where: London
Website: BBC Strictly