What you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Strictly Come Dancing is returning to our screens this autumn.

Alongside a new line-up of celebrity contestants, what are the new additions and changes viewers can expect from the next series of the dancing competition?

1. New judge – Anton Du Beke

Anton Du Beke will be swapping his dance shoes for a full-time role on the judging panel for the 2021 series.

The 55-year-old professional dancer, who judged for a two-week stint during the 2020 series, will be joining Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas on the panel.

He will take over from Bruno Tonioli, who remains unable to take part due to travel uncertainty caused by the pandemic because he lives in the US and is a judge on American series Dancing With The Stars at the same time.

Du Beke is the show’s longest-serving professional dancer, having been a fixture on the BBC One series since it began.

2. Four new professional dancers

Four new professional dancers will be taking to the dancefloor and joining the all-star line-up.

The new faces are Kai Widdrington, from the Irish version of Dancing With The Stars, former Let’s Dance Germany professional Nikita Kuzmin, reigning South African Latin champion Cameron Lombard, and The Greatest Dancer winner Jowita Przystal.

The other professionals already confirmed as continuing to take part are Aljaz Skorjanec, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu, Neil Jones and Oti Mabuse.

Janette Manrara announced in June that she was stepping down as a professional dancer on Strictly to present the show’s spin-off, It Takes Two.

3. First all-male pairing

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Bake Off star John Whaite will be part of the show’s first all-male pairing (BBC/PA)

Former Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite is making Strictly history as part of its first all-male pairing.

The chef follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year danced in a partnership with professional Katya Jones in the first same-sex pairing.

The cookery author has said he is “grateful, excited and nervous” to be joining the show, but believes the all-male partnership is a “great step forward in representation and inclusion”.

He told Matt Lucas on BBC Radio 2 when the news was announced: “I think that’s going to be such a great thing in our culture, where men are sort of conditioned not to open up and not to be emotional, I think it might help to combat that.”

4. Contestants announced so far

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
AJ Odudu has been announced as a Strictly contestant for this year (BBC/PA)

Joining Whaite so far in the celebrity line-up are McFly star Tom Fletcher, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.

5. No Blackpool

Blackpool Tower Ballroom cleaning
The show usually makes a visit to Blackpool’s famous Tower Ballroom (Martin Rickett/PA)

The new series will not be making the usual annual trip to Blackpool for an episode broadcast live from the famous Tower Ballroom.

Head judge Ballas said the decision was made due to the venue not having enough changing facilities backstage to allow good social distancing.

The show’s executive producer, Sarah James, previously said: “We are so thrilled that Strictly will be returning for a full-length series this year and know how much viewers are looking forward to getting their full Strictly fix and seeing the return of some of the much-loved specials.

“We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future.”

The 2020 series also missed out on the Blackpool special but paid tribute to it from the studio in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

6. Will the studio audience return?

Ballroom expert and choreographer Ballas said on ITV’s Loose Women that it is hoped there will be an audience present during the filming of the show.

Last year’s series went ahead without a live audience due to coronavirus restrictions.

7. When will Strictly air on TV?

The broadcast date for the forthcoming series has not yet been confirmed.