'Strictly Come Dancing' 2021 couples revealed - all the pairings for the new series
The Strictly Come Dancing couples for the 2021 series have been announced, including the first all-male pair with John Whaite and Johannes Radebe.
BBC One's celebrity dance contest returned tonight with a pre-recorded launch show that revealed to fans the celebrity and pro dancer pairings they will be watching over the coming months.
Read more: All you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Featuring in the line-up are former Bake Off winner Whaite and his professional partner Radebe who will coach him through the series, making Strictly history as the first all-male couple.
Fans were thrilled by the news that Whaite and Radebe would dance together, 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."
Last year, Nicola Adams and Katya Jones became the show's first same-sex pair, but had to withdraw from the competition after Jones tested positive for COVID.
This year, Jones will dance with Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Adam Peaty, while her ex husband Neil Jones has been matched with former EastEnders actor Nina Wadia.
Featuring from the current EastEnders cast is Rose Ayling-Ellis, the contest's first profoundly deaf competitor, who will dance with Giovanni Pernice.
Viewers loved Ayling-Ellis and Pernice being put together, praising the pro dancer for having learned some sign language already.
One fan tweeted: "How lovely are Giovanni and Rose together!!!! And sooo lovely that he is learning sign language."
Someone else added: "NAH Giovanni learning sign language for Rose has me sobbing."
Defending champion pro dancer Oti Mabuse, who won in 2020 with Bill Bailey and in 2019 with Kelvin Fletcher, is hoping to make it a hat trick this year with ex-ruby union player Ugo Monye.
McFly singer Tom Fletcher, one of the current favourites to win, has been paired with Amy Dowden while soap star Katie McGlynn's partner is Gorka Marquez.
Read more: The week in Strictly - 5 things we've learned
Actor Greg Wise found out he'd be dancing with one of Strictly's longest-serving pros, Karen Hauer, Dragon's Den star Sara Davies was coupled up with Aljaz Skorjanec, and comedian and Loose Women panellist Judi Love will partner Graziano Di Prima.
BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker will dance with Nadiya Bychkova, while comedian and actor Robert Webb has been matched with Dianne Buswell.
This series sees four new pro dancers join the cast, two of them with celebrity partners - Kai Widdrington will dance with TV presenter AJ Odudu and Nikita Kuzmin has been paired with Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly.
Lastly, pro Nancy Xu finally gets a celebrity partner in CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson.
Stephenson stood out as an early favourite for many viewers, with one person tweeting: "Ok Rhys genuinely couldn’t distinguish him from the pros."
Someone else wrote: "I have fallen for Rhys. What. A. Star."
Although Strictly returns for a full series this time, like last year the couples were matched in advance rather than revealed at the launch in order to allow them to form COVID-secure bubbles.
However, one pro dancer has contracted COVID, meaning that they were unable to rehearse with their partner this week.
Reigning champion Bill Bailey made a return to the launch show with Oti Mabuse to dance their fan favourite couple's choice routine and Anne-Marie was also on the line-up performing for the new cast.
There was an introduction to the new pro dancers and Anton Du Beke made his debut as a permanent judge on the panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas.
The live shows will begin next week on Saturday, 25 September without the usual break for rehearsal and the first couple will be voted out the following week.
Watch: Who is Strictly's AJ Odudu?