John Whaite and Johannes Radebe become 'Strictly's' first all-male couple

John Whaite will dance with Johannes Radebe. (BBC)
John Whaite will dance with Johannes Radebe. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing contestant John Whaite has been paired with pro dancer Johannes Radebe in the first all-male couple ever featured on the show.

It had previously been announced that former Great British Bake Off winner Whaite, 32, would be coupled up with a male dancer, but in tonight's series launch show his partner was revealed as Radebe, 34, for the first time.

Read more: All you need to know about Strictly 2021

Speaking to host Tess Daly, Whaite said: "It really is a privilege and an honour to be in this position because I think if I had seen two men in this position when I was a little lad it would have made the world of difference to me."

Radebe, who told Whaite that their first dance would be a Tango to Blue Monday, said: "I'm excited more than I am nervous, the possibility of what might be - that's what gets me out of bed every morning."

Fans of the show were thrilled by the pairing, with one person tweeting: "John and Johannes I am obsessed already this pairing is going to be iconic."

Someone else commented: "Omg John & Johannes are perfect together!! They’re giving winning energy."

Another viewer added: "John and Johannes are giving me life already. YES to representation."

Talking about his worries over public reaction before the series began, Whaite said: “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. 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.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/09/2021 - Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, SUNDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2021* John Waite - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
John Whaite is the celeb half of 'Strictly's' first all-male pairing. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

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.”

Last year's Strictly featured the show's first same-sex pairing with Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, although the couple had to drop out midway through the series when Jones tested positive for COVID.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing - TX: 17/10/2020 - Episode: Launch show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Johannes Radebe - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Johannes Radebe is making show history with Whaite. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

Radebe, who has previously partnered Caroline Quentin and Catherine Tyldesley, performed with fellow pro dancer Graziano Di Prima during the 2019 series, the first all-male dance included in the show which was well-received by fans who called it moving.

The launch show was pre-recorded and showed viewers the 2021 series couples who had been matched up in advance so that they could form COVID-secure bubbles for rehearsal.

Read more: Where is Bruno Tonioli?

As the couples have already been matched, there will be no break for rehearsals before the live shows begin, meaning that they will start next Saturday on 25 September.

This series is also the first where former pro dancer Anton Du Beke will serve as a judge for the whole run as he fills in for Bruno Tonioli, who is unable to travel from filming commitments in the US for Dancing With The Stars due to COVID restrictions.

Watch: Who is Strictly's John Whaite?