John Whaite braced for 'hate' after 'Strictly' all-male duo news

John Whaite is to make 'Strictly' history. (BBC)
John Whaite is to make 'Strictly' history. (BBC)

John Whaite has told how he braced himself for “a fair bit of hate” after it was announced that he will compete in a same-sex partnership on Strictly Come Dancing.

The former Great British Bake Off winner will make history as half of the first ever all-male partnership in the BBC ballroom series, and says he hopes it helps children to grow up without the same "shame" he felt.

It comes after Nicola Adams and Katya Jones competed in the first all-female partnership last year.

Read more: Strictly: When does the first show start and who is in the 2021 line-up?

Whaite, 32, said that after the news was announced he expected a backlash but was delighted that the reaction was “so positive”.

“I genuinely did think that I was going to receive a fair bit of hate in my inbox because you know, you do as a gay man, you get a lot of hate,” he said.

“It’s something you learn to deal with - you shouldn’t have to but you do.

“But I can honestly say that I haven’t had a single message of negativity.”

The star went on: “I was talking to Matt Lucas on the radio and I realised how important a step forwards this is because little kids who watch the show, you have role models, you know, same sex role models, it will give them a little bit of hope for the future.

“It won’t make them grow up with the same shame that I grew up with.”

“It’s not just about queer people, it’s about intimacy generally,” Whaite added.

“Two men, whether they are straight or gay, can be intimate with each other and I think, I hope, that this comes to show that, that it breaks down that notion of toxic masculinity which is so rife, especially in Britain.”

The TV star said he was hoping to be paired with pro dancer Johannes Radebe, who made history himself on the show by dancing with another man.

“I think it would be really important for him to have the first all-male couple, I think it would be a really powerful message for him as well,” he said.

Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe made history with the show's first same-sex dance. (BBC)
Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe made history with the show's first same-sex dance. (BBC)

“That’s not to say that in the future it has to be two gay men, it could be two straight men in an all-male couple.

“But I think for the first one it would be particularly important for it to be Johannes.”

The TV star said that as well as learning the dances he was particularly looking forward to being “Strictlyfied” by the programme’s wardrobe team.

Read more: John Whaite: I was wearing glitter in the womb

“I want mesh and I want sequins,” he said.

“I want everything on show basically. I want to be as glamorous as possible.”

BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, actor Greg Wise and EastEnders stars Nina Wadia and Rose Ayling-Ellis are also among the celebrities taking to the dancefloor this year.

The BBC celebrity dance contest is due to begin on Saturday 18 September.

Watch: Who is Strictly's John Whaite?