'Strictly' line up 2021: All the celebrity contestants announced so far

·Senior Editor
·13-min read

Watch: Who are the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing celebrities?

The celebrity contestants for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing 2021 are slowly being announced by the BBC ahead of the show's launch later this year.

Bosses have promised fans a full-length series this year but said the show will not be able to return to Blackpool due to the pandemic.

Here is a rundown of who will be putting their best foot forward on the dancefloor:

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

Celebrities confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing so far

Judi Love

Judi Love has joined 'Strictly' 2021. (PA)
Judi Love has joined 'Strictly' 2021. (PA)

Mum-of-two Love grew up in East London and made her professional stage debut as a comedian in 2011.

She has appeared on shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Harry Hills Club Nite but moved firmly into the limelight in 2020 when she became a regular panellist on Loose Women.

The 41-year-old was also a Celebrity MasterChef contestant last year.

Love has said she is excited about learning a new skill on Strictly – but confessed that she doesn’t have many moves.

The show, she said, would take her completely out of her “comfort zone”.

Adam Peaty

The swimmer is taking a break from the pool. (BBC)
The swimmer is taking a break from the pool. (BBC)

Swimmer Peaty is joining the show soon after his Olympic success.

The swimmer, 26, clinched two golds and a silver in Tokyo.

After the Games he said he would take a break from the pool, and we now know that one of things filling the gap will be the BBC ballroom contest.

Peaty said learning how to dance would be a good way of keeping fit during his time off from his usual routine.

He has admitted to being a bit nervous about the competition, which he said may end up being the first time he’s felt really uncomfortable.

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first deaf contestant. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first deaf contestant. (BBC)

Ayling-Ellis is best known for playing Frankie Lewis in EastEnders, a role she has had since last year.

She has also appeared in TV shows such as Casualty and Summer Of Rockets and has been in several stage productions.

The 26-year-old actor, who was the 12th celebrity to be confirmed for the line-up, will be the first deaf contestant on Strictly.

When the news was announced Ayling-Ellis said keeping quiet about taking part had been the “hardest secret” she had ever had to keep.

Nina Wadia OBE 

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - Nina Wadia  (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - Nina Wadia (BBC)

Nina Wadia OBE is an actor well known for many roles including starring in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours, and for playing Zainab Masood in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, where she won Best Onscreen Partnership and Best Comedy at the British Soap Awards. 

Wadia has performed in a variety of theatre productions including the Tony award winning The Vagina Monologues and recently appeared in the live-action film remake of Aladdin. She is also a regular presenter on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live. A JDRF ambassador, she received an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.

“I've always danced like nobody's watching, so if we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021,” Wadia said.

Greg Wise

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 -  Greg Wise  (Dillon Bryden)
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - Greg Wise (Dillon Bryden)

Greg Wise is an actor, writer and producer.

Wise is known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown, Cranford, Walking on Sunshine and his breakout role in Sense and Sensibility. Greg also wrote box-office hit film Last Christmas with his wife, Emma Thompson, and the book Not That Kind of Love with his late sister Clare Wise.

He said: “My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her. 

"My gorgeous Diva sis, who would have been insane with excitement that her little bro was doing this. I will channel her, as her bro can’t dance - but I’m thrilled to be dipping my toes, knees, hips and arms into this wonderful world, and hope to make her proud, and obviously make her laugh...”

Tilly Ramsay

Strictly Come Dancing -  Tilly Ramsay (BBC)
Tilly Ramsay (BBC)

Tilly Ramsay is a chef, social media influencer and CBBC presenter.

Chef, social media influencer and TV presenter Tilly has over 9.5 million followers on TikTok, where she regularly posts funny videos of herself and her father, Gordon Ramsay. 

She presented Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch on CBBC, which saw her cooking and having adventures along with her family, for which she received three Children’s BAFTA nominations. In 2017 she published her first cookery book, inspired by the show, titled: Matilda & The Ramsay Bunch: Tilly's Kitchen Takeover. Tilly and her dad also hosted a regular cooking item on This Morning, Big Chef Little Chef.

Tilly said: “I’m so excited and grateful to be joining the Strictly family! I’m always up for fun new challenges and this will be my biggest adventure yet! I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on and show my Dad how it’s really done! Bring on the glitz, glamour and sequins!”

Dan Walker

Strictly Come Dancing - Dan Walker (BBC)
Dan Walker (BBC)

Walker has been at the helm of the UK’s most popular morning TV show BBC Breakfast since 2016. He presented BBC Olympic Breakfast throughout this year’s games, regularly presents Match Of The Day and The NFL Show, hosted Football Focus for 12 years before hanging up his boots at the end of last season. 

He has covered Wimbledon, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, The Derby, the 6 Nations and the Open golf coverage for the BBC as well as hosted The One Show and Songs Of Praise. In 2019 he was amongst a group of famous faces that climbed Kilimanjaro to help raise funds for Comic Relief. Walker is also a prolific writer, with his most recent book, Remarkable People, published last year.

He said of joining Strictly: “I am definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding! My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows - Saturday Mash Up! and Strictly. I did Saturday Mash Up! this summer so… it’s time to embrace the sequins.”

Katie McGlynn

Strictly Come Dancing -  Katie McGlynn (BBC)
Katie McGlynn (BBC)

McGlynn is an actor best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street, for which she was BAFTA nominated and won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020. Katie was a regular in Waterloo Road, appeared in BBC One dramas The Syndicate and Moving On and currently stars in Hollyoaks as mysterious newcomer Becky Quentin.

McGlynn said: “It’s been so hard keeping it a secret, but I can finally say that I’m getting ready to shake my shimmy and become part of the Strictly family! I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way. 

Although I do get to have so much fun as an actress, a lot of my roles have involved quite serious and challenging storylines, so I’m fully ready to let my hair down and do something different, even if it is completely outside of my comfort zone. I can’t promise that I’ll be the best, but I’m going to give it 110% on the dance floor! As long as I don't fall over I'll be happy."

Sara Davies MBE

Sara Davies MBE - Sara is an entrepreneur and television personality (BBC)
Sara Davies (BBC)

Davies was the youngest ever dragon on the panel of entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den, when she joined in 2019. A businesswoman, her company Crafter’s Companion, which she started as a student, now employs almost 250 people worldwide and has earned her the affectionate nickname of the Crafting Queen. 

She is the recipient of more than 30 business awards and, in 2016, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the economy.

Sara Davies said: “My Mam and Dad are going to be so excited. I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance. Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little. 

"The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dancefloor. And I’m excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum tum!”

Rhys Stephenson

Strictly Come Dancing -  Rhys Stephenson (BBC)
Rhys Stephenson (BBC)

Rhys Stephenson is the fifth celebrity contestant confirmed for the brand new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Actor and children’s TV presenter Stephenson is best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, which he hosts live from CBBC studio HQ. He has also presented some of the biggest shows across the CBBC slate, including Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and appeared on The Dengineers and Newsround. Outside of presenting, he is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity which provides mental health services in schools.

Stephenson said: “I am BUZZING to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation. I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am READY!”

John Whaite

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Celebrity Announcements (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  John Whaite - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC
John Whaite (BBC)

Former Bake Off winner John Whaite will take to the Strictly Come Dancing dance floor as one half of the first all-male partnership on the series, it has been announced.

The chef, 33, was the fourth contestant to be confirmed and follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year was one half of the first female same-sex dance pair, alongside Katya Jones.

Whaite said: “I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family. I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth.

“What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion. Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”

He won the third series of The Great British Bake off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on the Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Tom Fletcher

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 (BBC)

Fletcher is the lead vocalist and guitarist of pop band McFly, who have produced six albums and seven number-one singles.

The 36-year-old is the main writer on many of the boy band’s hits and is also credited with penning songs for One Direction and Busted.

He married longtime girlfriend Giovanna in 2012 and his wedding speech, which riffed on some of McFly’s greatest hits, later went viral after he uploaded it to his YouTube channel. The couple have continued to document their lives together, including three creative baby announcement videos which delighted fans.

Tom Fletcher said: “I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in while I’m writing this! I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified! My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen. I’m not sure how far they’ll get me in the competition but I can’t wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire.”

Robert Webb

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Celebrity Announcements (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Robert Webb - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC
Robert Webb (BBC)

The actor and comedian is best known for appearing alongside David Mitchell in Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, where he plays unemployed musician Jez, and in sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look.

The 48-year-old has also regularly appeared on comedy panels for Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, QI and Mastermind.

Webb read English at Robinson College, Cambridge and joined the university’s theatre club Footlights, where he met Mitchell.

In 2020, he had major heart surgery after a routine medical check during filming for the second series of his sitcom Back revealed he had a heart murmur caused by a mitral valve prolapse. Webb has also produced a memoir, How Not To Be A Boy, based on his life growing up in Lincolnshire, and in 2020 he published his first novel, Come Again, and Olivia Colman narrated the audiobook version.

Robert Webb and David Mitchell were the stars of Channel 4's delightfully awkward sitcom 'Peep Show'. (Credit: Channel 4)
Robert Webb and David Mitchell were the stars of Channel 4's delightfully awkward sitcom 'Peep Show'. (Credit: Channel 4)

Robert said: “I am ludicrously excited to be taking part in Strictly this year. It’s a big, generous, joyful show and I can’t wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman. At least I think that’s what happens. 

"My goal is to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders. I know it’s going to be a challenge. To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing.”

AJ Odudu

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Celebrity Announcements (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  AJ Odudu - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC
AJ Odudu (BBC)

Odudu began her career as a reporter for BBC Blast on Radio Lancashire and went on to co-host the spin-off Big Brother’s Bit On The Side with Emma Willis and Rylan Clark-Neal and produce the documentary Manhunting With My Mum in Nigeria.

The 33-year-old has also done backstage reporting for The Voice UK and The Voice Kids UK.

AJ Odudu said: “I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I'm so glad I can finally tell my mum. Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon! I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!”

EDITORIAL USE ONLY DJ AJ Odudu performs during the Seven Dials Christmas lights switch on, in partnership with housing and homelessness charity Shelter, London.
DJ AJ Odudu performs during the Seven Dials Christmas lights switch on (PA)

She is also a qualified personal trainer and sports nutritionist and was appointed as a contributing editor to Grazia magazine in 2021.

Recently she appeared in ITV series Cooking With The Stars and is hosting ITV’s new gameshow Apocalypse Wow which sees celebrities compete in a series of physical challenges in a bid to win money for charity.

She will join Bafta-winning comedian Mo Gilligan to host a one-off special of morning show The Big Breakfast for Channel 4’s Black To Front day in September, a project which celebrates black talent in the TV industry.

Watch: Anita Rani on writing about her childhood, competing in Strictly, clinching Woman's Hour and channeling Kate Bush

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