'Strictly Come Dancing': When does the first show start and who is in the 2021 line-up?

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Strictly Come Dancing 2021 will see a new batch of celebs competing for the glitterball trophy (BBC)
'Strictly Come Dancing' 2021 is here. (BBC)

Get your dancing shoes on because Strictly Come Dancing is back on BBC One - and this year we're getting a full series again.

The celebrity line-up is confirmed, the pro dancers are all signed up and the judging panel has had a refresh, so take a look at our 2021 series guide to find out all you need to know about the competition.

Read more: Katie McGlynn cuts foot on glass glitterball

Find out the series start date, line-up, COVID filming rules and more, and look out for our coverage of all of the latest Strictly news and results.

Everything you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021

When does Strictly start?

Strictly Come Dancing -  Katie McGlynn (BBC)
Katie McGlynn is one of the 2021 contestants. (BBC)

As usual, Strictly Come Dancing is set to start the series with a launch show that will introduce the celebrity contestants and match them with their partners.

The 2021 launch show is set to begin on Saturday, 18 September at 7.45pm on BBC One and the bumper episode will continue until 9.30pm.

Last year, filming restrictions meant that the couples being matched had been pre-recorded rather than the whole group waiting to see who their partner was like in previous years.

Read more: BBC bosses confirm Strictly start date

That also meant that the show didn't need to take its traditional two-week break before live shows for the couples to rehearse as they'd already met each other.

Strictly will follow the same format change this year, meaning we can get stuck straight into the live shows from Saturday, 25 September, explaining the later start date than previous full-length series years.

Who is on Strictly this year?

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Celebrity Announcements (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Tom Fletcher - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC
Tom Fletcher was one of the first celebs announced for 2021. (BBC)

Over the summer Strictly fever really set in as this year's celebrity line-up was announced.

The 15 celebrities putting their best foot forward this year are:

John Whaite

Robert Webb

Tom Fletcher

AJ Odudu

Watch: Who is Strictly's AJ Odudu?

Rhys Stephenson

Sara Davies

Katie McGlynn

Dan Walker

Tilly Ramsay

Greg Wise

Watch: Who is Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis?

Nina Wadia

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Adam Peaty

Judi Love

Ugo Monye

This year will feature Strictly's first-ever all-male couple as former Bake Off winner Whaite gets a male pro partner, while EastEnders actor Ayling-Ellis is the first deaf contestant to take part.

Who are the pro dancers on Strictly 2021?

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:01:00 on 08/09/2021 - Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 08/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - Professional Dancers (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The Strictly Come Dancing 2021 Professional Dancers  - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
The 2021 pro dancer cast. (BBC/Guy Levy)

On the pro dancer side, we'll see four new performers join the show - Cameron Lombard, Kai Widdrington, Nikita Kuzmin and Jowita Przystal.

Returning for another series are some familiar names, including female pros Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu, and of course twice-in-a-row series champion Oti Mabuse.

The male pros coming back for 2021 are Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, and Neil Jones.

Read more: Giovanni Pernice has caught the acting bug from his film debut

Janette Manrara may not be on the pro dancer roster this year, but she'll still be an integral part of the show as the new host of spin-off Strictly: It Takes Two.

Meanwhile, hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are teaming up again for the main shows.

Who is on the judging panel?

Anton Du Beke is finally a 'Strictly' judge. (BBC)
Anton Du Beke is finally a 'Strictly' judge. (BBC)

Strictly doesn't like to shake up its judging panel as much as many other reality shows, but this year there'll be a new addition thanks to ongoing problems caused by the pandemic.

Like last year, regular judge Bruno Tonioli will be stuck in the US for his Dancing With The Stars commitments and because of travel restrictions will not be able to fly back and forth to the UK.

This series, the judging panel is back up to the full four, with pro dancer Anton Du Beke finally getting his seat at the desk.

Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood The Strictly Come Dancing 2020 judges (BBC)
Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood return. (BBC)

Du Beke is the only dancer to have competed in every series since the show launched in 2004, so it's a big change to see him judge for a full series (he was a guest judge covering for Most Mabuse for two weeks last year).

Anton said of his new role: “My loves I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno’s brogues for the next series of Strictly. It’s a dream come true to be judging alongside the best of the best and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me.”

Read more: Most Mabuse 'disappointed and sad' at 'racist' German newspaper headline

He'll be joining head judge Shirley Ballas and regular fixtures Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood who are all returning.

Will Strictly be back to normal this year?

Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly welcome back a studio audience. (BBC)
Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly welcome back a studio audience. (BBC)

Yes and no...

Strictly fans will be glad to know that the number of couples is back up to the full 15 this year after a smaller number of contestants and shorter competition in 2020.

Excitingly, a studio audience will also be allowed in for filming this year which will be welcomed by the couples as they'll have plenty of people to cheer them on compared to last year's empty ballroom.

The Blackpool Tower, an iconic British landmark and tourist attraction, is pictured on the 125th anniversary of the tower's opening to the public, in Blackpool, northern England on May 14, 2019. - The tower, which took 3 years to construct and opened in 1894, was inspired by the Eiffel Tower which had opened 5 years earlier. The entertainment complex at the base of the tower comprises a ballroom, circus, aquarium, adventure playground and restaurant. It stands at 158m tall making it the 120th tallest freestanding tower in the world. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Blackpool is off the cards for another year. (AFP via Getty Images)

Themed weeks are also back on the menu, so look out for old favourites like Halloween, musicals and movies weeks.

However, there is one big hole in the Strictly format we've come to know and love, as unfortunately the series will not be heading to Blackpool for the second year in a row.

Read more: Craig Revel Horwood looks forward to return of Strictly curse

The annual trip to Blackpool's Tower Ballroom has become a huge goal for the couples as it marks the midway point in the series and gives them the chance to dance in one of the ballroom world's most famous venues.

But producers just could not make the trip work in line with COVID filming guidelines this year – we're keeping our fingers crossed for a triumphant return in 2022.

Watch: Who is Strictly's John Whaite?

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