Celebrity contestants confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2021
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.
Author, composer, musician, singer and songwriter
Tom Fletcher says: “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.”
Tom is best known as a lead vocalist and guitarist in McFly, one of Britain’s most successful bands. Tom has penned 10 UK number one singles for McFly, as well as written a number of chart-topping songs for bands such as One Direction, Busted and 5 Seconds Of Summer.
Alongside his music career, 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.
Actor and author
Robert says: “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.”
Bafta-winner Robert Webb is a television, film and theatre actor well known for his starring roles in Peep Show, That Mitchell And Webb Look and Back, and for his comedy partnership with David Mitchell. Also an acclaimed author, his memoir, How Not To Be A Boy, went on to become a No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller and his debut novel, Come Again, was published last year.
AJ Odudu says: “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!”
AJ is best known as a TV presenter, having presented a number of shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow. AJ has guest presented on The One Show, Lorraine and This Morning, alongside hosting the red carpets for the Brits and TV Bafta Awards 2021. She has also written articles for a number of publications, including Vogue, and is Contributing Editor for Grazia magazine.
Chef, TV presenter and cookery author
John says: “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!”
John Whaite is a British cook who won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23. John has presented various TV shows and currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch. He has written for a variety of newspaper and magazine publications on the topics of food and mental health, and has published five cookery books. John also runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen.
Actor and children’s TV presenter
Rhys says: “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!”
Actor and children’s TV presenter Rhys is best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, which he hosts live from CBBC studio HQ. He has also presented some of the biggest shows across the CBBC slate, including Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and appeared on The Dengineers and Newsround. Outside of presenting, Rhys is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity which provides mental health services in schools.
Entrepreneur and television personality
Sara Davies says: “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!”
Sara was the youngest ever dragon on the panel of entrepreneurs on popular BBC show Dragons’ Den, when she joined in 2019. A businesswoman, her company Crafter’s Companion, which she started as a student, now employs almost 250 people worldwide and has earned her the affectionate nickname of the Crafting Queen. She is the recipient of over 30 business awards and, in 2016, she was appointed Member Of The Order Of The British Empire (MBE) for services to the economy.
Katie McGlynn says: “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! 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. 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."
Katie is an actress 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.
Presenter, writer and broadcaster
Dan says: “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.”
Dan has been at the helm of the UK’s most popular morning TV show BBC Breakfast since 2016. He presented BBC Olympic Breakfast throughout this year’s games, regularly presents Match Of The Day and The NFL Show, hosted Football Focus for 12 years before hanging up his boots at the end of last season. Dan has covered Wimbledon, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, The Derby, the 6 Nations and the Open golf coverage for the BBC as well as hosted The One Show and Songs Of Praise. In 2019 he was amongst a group of famous faces that climbed Kilimanjaro to help raise funds for Comic Relief. Dan is also a prolific writer, with his most recent book, Remarkable People, published last year.
Chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter
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!”
Chef, social media influencer and TV presenter Tilly has over 9.5 million followers on TikTok, where she regularly posts funny videos of herself and her Dad, Gordon Ramsay. She presented Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch on CBBC, which saw her cooking and having adventures along with her family, for which she received three Children’s Bafta nominations. In 2017 she published her first cookery book, inspired by the show, titled: Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly's Kitchen Takeover. Tilly and her Dad also hosted a regular cooking item on This Morning, Big Chef Little Chef.
Actor, writer and producer
Greg says: “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 Wise is an actor known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown, Cranford, Walking On Sunshine and his breakout role in Sense And Sensibility. Greg 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.
Nina Wadia OBE
Nina says: “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 well known for many roles including starring in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours, and for playing Zainab Masood in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, where she won ‘Best Onscreen Partnership’ and ‘Best Comedy’ at the British Soap Awards. Nina has performed in a variety of theatre productions including the Tony award winning The Vagina Monologues and recently appeared in the live-action film remake of Aladdin. Nina is also a regular presenter on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live. A JDRF ambassador, she received an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.
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!”
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 uses British Sign Language (BSL).
Adam Peaty MBE
Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth British swimming champion
Adam says: “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!”
Adam Peaty MBE is one of the biggest names in world swimming and 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.
Comedian and presenter
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!!”
Straight-talking powerhouse Judi Love is one of the UK’s most in demand entertainers. A firm favourite on the stand-up circuit, 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 panellist on Loose Women, Judi has 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.
During lockdown, Judi set up her Quarantine Date Nights which ran throughout 2020 and 2021, gathering tens of thousands of views as well as countless, budding singletons. She also has a regular column in OK Magazine.
Broadcaster, sports pundit and former England rugby player
Ugo Monye says: “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!”
Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club, scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008. Since retiring 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.