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'Strictly Come Dancing' 2021— lineup, confirmed start date, judges, dancers and everything you need to know

Strictly Come Dancing celebrity line up.
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is here! (Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is back on BBC1 and tonight Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will reveal which celebrity has been paired with which professional dancer. 

We wonder who'll we will be adding to our Strictly Come Dancing winners list?!

But before we're wowed by the sequins and fake tans, here is everything we know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021...

Strictly Come Dancing Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman

Claudia and Tess are bringing all the glitz and glamour back to our Saturday nights. (Image credit: BBC/Guy Levy)

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 release date 

Strictly Come Dancing returns on 18 September on BBC1 at 7.45pm with the launch show. From Saturday 25 September the live shows will kick off at 7pm, with the programme then airing in the same slot each week. 

All episodes will be added to iPlayer after they have aired, so you can easily catch up. 

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line up 

All fifteen celebrities are busy training for the 2021 series, with a musician, breakfast presenter, actor, chef, and comedian being just some of the professions making the line-up. Here are the celebrities ready to hit the dancefloor after getting their Strictly makeover... 

Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher Strictly Come Dancing

McFly star Tom is looking forward to showing off his 'dad dancing'! (Image credit: BBC)

McFly musician and best-selling children's author Tom has got a lot to live up to, not only did his bandmate Harry Judd win the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing, but Tom's wife, Giovanna Fletcher, is also the current queen of the jungle after winning the 2020 series of I'm A Celebrity - no pressure then! 

Speaking about his new adventure on Strictly, Tom 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."

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling-Ellis Strictly Come Dancing

Rose Ayling-Ellis is swapping Walford for waltzing this autumn.  (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders star Rose joined the soap last year as Mick Carter's (Danny Dyer) secret daughter and has been at the centre of Walford drama ever since. 

It was announced on the EastEnders Twitter feed that Rose would be joining this year's Strictly line up, making history as the first deaf contestant to take part. Rose, who is the first deaf actor to play a deaf character, said of her Strictly adventure: "To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary. 

"It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open! I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me!"

Robert Webb

Robert Webb Strictly Come Dancing

Robert can't wait to get cracking with his training.  (Image credit: BBC)

Comedian and Peep Show star Robert Webb said his main aim in Strictly is to avoid injury! "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."

Sara Davies

Sara Davies Strictly Come Dancing

Sara is looking forward to the Strictly sequins. (Image credit: BBC)

Dragon's Den star Sara 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

Rhys Stephenson Strictly Come Dancing

Rhys is looking forward to joining the Strictly family.  (Image credit: BBC)

Rhys is a children's TV presenter, hosting live from CBBC studio HQ, and has worked on programmes such as Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up

Speaking of joining Strictly, Rhys 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!”

Dan Walker

Dan Walker Strictly Come Dancing

Dan is going to be showing BBC Breakfast fans his fancy footwork.  (Image credit: BBC)

BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker isn't optimistic about his chances on the dancefloor, admitting: "I'm one of those people, I've danced at three weddings, two school discos. 

"I'm enjoying the experience of actually being able to learn to dance, have a bit of fun... we'll see what happens. I'm not making any room on our shelves in our house for the Glitterball."

Katie McGlynn

Katie McGlynn Strictly Come Dancing

Former Coronation Street star Katie is taking on the challenge of a lifetime.  (Image credit: BBC)

Actress Katie, who is best known for her roles as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street, and Diane's friend Becky in Hollyoaks said: "I'm nervous to see what people are going to think, because I'm not a dancer. I've always admired dancers, they're incredible at what they do. I think secretly I've always wanted to be one."

She added: "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 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."

Tilly Ramsay

Tilly Ramsay Strictly Come Dancing

Tilly will be hoping to make celebrity chef dad, Gordon Ramsay, proud.  (Image credit: BBC)

Tilly Ramsay is known for her work on CBBC food show Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch and published a spin-off cookbook called Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover following the success of the children's TV programme. She also has a significant TikTok following and often posts funny videos alongside her dad, celebrated TV chef Gordon Ramsay.

Speaking about the opportunity, 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!”

AJ Odudu

Aj Odudu Strictly Come Dancing

TV presenter AJ Odudu is excited for her mum to see her on Strictly!  (Image credit: BBC)

Speaking about joining the Strictly line up, TV presenter AJ 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!"

John Whaite

John Whaite Strictly Come Dancing

John is swapping baking for dancing this autumn. (Image credit: BBC)

TV chef and author John Whaite became a household name when he won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, and this year he will be making history as he takes part in Strictly's first all-male pairing.

John 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. 

John will be competing alongside a male dancer, who has not yet been confirmed, and added that he was looking forward to being part of the first all-male duo. He added: "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!"

Greg Wise

Greg Wise Strictly Come Dancing

Greg's revealed he has a very special reason for joining the Strictly line up.  (Image credit: BBC)

Actor and producer Greg Wise has become a household name with roles including Lord Mountbatten in Netflix's The Crown and John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, which he starred in alongside his wife Emma Thompson.

Greg has revealed a sentimental reason for him wanting to join the dancing competition. He revealed: "My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly 5 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..."

Nina Wadia 

Nina Wadia

Nina has joined the 2021 line up for Strictly Come Dancing.  (Image credit: BBC)

The news that former EastEnders star Nina Wadia would be joining the lineup was confirmed on Lorraine, where stand-in host Christine Lampard announced that Nadia would be taking part in this year's series. When asked if she liked dancing, Nadia said: "I am so scared... I like dancing like no one is watching, so we just need to blindfold the judges and I will win. 

She added: "I think I should do this before I am too old and I can't walk anymore. I think this is the last year I am ever wearing heels. A lot has happened in the last couple of years and I just wanna grab life by the balls and enjoy it!"

Adam Peaty 

Adam Peaty Strictly Come Dancing

Adam is looking forward to taking on a challenge away from the swimming pool.  (Image credit: BBC)

Adam Peaty is an Olympic, World, European, and Commonwealth British swimming champion, but he'll be swapping the swimming pool for the dancefloor as he joins Strictly.

Confirming the news in a statement, Adam said: "I think this will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I’m so excited to finally share the news that I’ll be joining Strictly this year. I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool. I’m hoping my competitive nature is going to compensate for my dancing abilities!"

Judi Love 

Judi Love Strictly Come Dancing

Judi is already a massive fan of Strictly, and now she is a contestant.  (Image credit: BBC)

Judi Love has also been confirmed as one of the 2021 contestants, and she says that being part of the show is a dream come true. 

Judi has appeared on Loose WomenThe Jonathan Ross ShowThe Graham Norton Show8 Out Of 10 Cats does CountdownCelebrity JuiceThis Morning, and Good Morning Britain. She's also done stand-up throughout her career and is a BBC radio presenter. 

Judi said: "I think I am still in shock that I will be part of this amazing show. I’ve watched it for many years and admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft. 

"I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!! I can’t lie I’m soooo nervous but excited at the same time!!"

Ugo Monye

Ugo Monye Strictly Come Dancing

Ugo is looking forward to his daughters coming to watch him on Strictly.  (Image credit: BBC)

Ugo Monye was the final celebrity to be announced this year. 

Ugo has enjoyed a hugely successful rugby career, beginning his journey at Harlequins in 2002, he then went on to make 241 appearances for the club, scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.

Last month, it was also announced that Ugo would be one of the new team captains on BBC One's A Question of Sport.

Speaking of his new adventure on Strictly, Ugo said: “What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.

"My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me. I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins!”

As fans know, the Strictly rumour mill never stops, and there have also been some other big names mentioned in connection with the 2021 series. Could any of these celebrities be waiting in the wings in case of injury or covid-related last-minute dropouts? 

Max Bowden 

EastEnders star Max Bowden has had his name mentioned recently in connection to Strictly... could he be following in Jake Wood, Emma Barton and Kellie Bright's footsteps and swapping Walford for waltzing? Max starred in Billy Elliot when he was younger, so he certainly has form... watch this space! 

Olly Alexander

An insider told The Sun that bosses are reportedly interested in It's a Sin star Olly Alexander. They said: "Everyone wants a piece of Olly at the moment and the Beeb are no different.

“Strictly have Olly in their sights and have offered him a spot in this year’s line-up, should he wish to take part. Olly’s performance at The Brits with Elton showed he was an outstanding dancer as well as a singer and getting him onto this year’s series would be a huge coup."

Tommy Jessop

Following his Line of Duty role, there's a chance Tommy Jessop could be heading to the dancefloor. He wrote a hint on Twitter which read: "I'll just say, dancing today! (Just on Zoom in my room) Yay! In the words of #BruceForysth #KeepDancing!". 

Josephine Jobert 

During a Q&A with Death in Paradise co-star Tahj Miles, the duo revealed they'd love to take part in the dancing competition. When asked, Tahj said: "Yes, why not!" and Josephine added: "Yeah me too, we should do it together, we'd win it together!" 

Eddie the Eagle

Ski jumper Michael Edwards (Eddie the Eagle) has previously spoken about his interest in the series if it was the right time. He told Radio Times: "They asked me a few years ago. The film had just been out a year or two and I'd been very, very busy for the last five years off the back of the film. Two months before they're due to start filming, my diary is completely full and I can't cancel everything to be able to do the show. So as much as I would love to do Strictly, they've just got to time it right and make sure that my diary is free."

Baga Chipz and The Vivienne

According to an insider, the BBC is looking to shake up the normal partnerships on their hugely popular ballroom show by signing a celebrity drag act. Both Baga Chipz and RuPaul's Drag Race UK Season 1 winner The Vivienne are apparently in the running for the new series.

An insider revealed the rumour to The Sun. They said: “There’s been a real shift in thinking on this in recent years, with contests having same-sex partners appearing more and more. But Strictly producers always try to do things a little bit differently, so they want to introduce a drag artist to shake up perceptions even further.”

Chris Whitty 

It has been reported that Chief Medical officer Chris Whitty is top of the list to join the show for the new series. A source reportedly told The Sun: "Chris is top of the list, and discreet enquiries will be made over the next few weeks. However, any decisions would depend on the rate of Covid infections in the country."

Ralf Little 

Death in Paradise star Ralf Little also told Hello Magazine he would always be open to joining Strictly: "Never say never! I think it is very easy to be dismissive of these things. I think people who participate and do well in Strictly are learning a real skill, an art form, and there's something really rewarding about that."

Maya Jama

Former Radio One star Maya Jama has also been linked to the dancing show. She told Hello Magazine: "I always say I don't know. I'd never say never to all these things but I've got a lot going on at the moment."

Tina Barrett

S Club 7 star Tina Barrett is also very interested in taking part, and she's even publicly asked if she'd be considered. She told The Sun: “I love Strictly and I’d like to do it. I haven’t been asked to, so if anyone at Strictly is reading, please let me go on. It would be amazing. I am a bit of a Glitterball girl.”

Also... 

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand, Busted star Matt Willis, The Circle star Emma Willis, actress Lucy Fallon, Good Morning Britain presenter Ben Shephard, reality TV star Dan Osborne and TV presenter Angelica Bell have also been mentioned in connection to the show.

More: Strictly Come Dancing winners - can you remember them all? 

Who are the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 judges?

Strictly Come Dancing judges

Motsi, Shirley and Craig are set to return for Strictly 2021 and Anton will join them to replace Bruno.

Shirley Ballas is back as head judge with Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood joining her on the panel for another series of the dancing competition.

Strictly has also confirmed that Anton Du Beke will join the judging panel again, after a two-week stint during the 2020 series. This decision was made after international travel is still uncertain, meaning Bruno may not be able to head to the UK for judging duties.

Who are the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 professional dancers? 

Professional Dancers Strictly Come Dancing 2021

The professional group dances are always a highlight of each series. (Image credit: BBC)

The 2021 professional lineup sees Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones all returning to the show.

Oti Mabuse will also be returning in a bid to defend her Strictly champion title after becoming the first dancer in the show's history to win two consecutive series. She won in 2019 with actor Kelvin Fletcher, and then won Strictly 2020 with Bill Bailey!

However, the professional dancer has revealed that Strictly 2021 could be her last year. She told telegraph.co.uk: "I love to dance and love bringing joy to so many people, but I think Strictly 2021 will be the last. Honestly, as a woman I can't be dancing forever."

Sarah James, Executive Producer of BBC Studios, says: "We are so thrilled to be welcoming back our incredible line-up of professional dancers for 2021.

"Their passion and dedication for Strictly shone through more than ever last year as they all sacrificed so much to deliver an unforgettable series during unprecedented and challenging times.

"With so much talent returning to the ballroom, the 2021 series promises more show-stopping choreography, memorable performances, and world-class dancing."

We now know that the regular line-up will be joined by four brand-new faces on the Strictly dance floor this year. Dancing with the Stars Ireland pro Kai Widdrington, six-time Italian Latin and Ballroom Champion Nikita Kuzmin, reigning South African Latin champion Cameron Lombard, and Jowita Przystal, winner of BBC1's The Greatest Dancer will all be taking to the floor when the show returns!

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Kai Widdrington - Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Kai Widdrington. (Image credit: Kai Widdrington / BBC)
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Nikita Kuzmin - Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Nikita Kuzmin. (Image credit: BBC / Nikita Kuzmin)
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Cameron Lombard - Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Cameron Lombard. (Image credit: BBC / Jack Barnes)
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Jowita Przystal - Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Jowita Przystal. (Image credit: Tomasz Reindl)

Will the series be filmed in the Blackpool Tower ballroom?

Sadly not, as it was recently confirmed the dancers wouldn't be travelling to Strictly Come Dancing's iconic home this year due to the pandemic. Confirming the news, Executive producer Sarah James told The Mirror:  “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.”

Instead, the professional dancers will again isolate together in a hotel near the Hertfordshire studio, where the new series will be filmed.

It Takes Two presenters 

Janette Manrara Strictly Come Dancing.

Janette will be swapping dancing for presenting as she replaces Zoe Ball on It Takes Two.  (Image credit: BBC)

In a shake up on Strictly Come Dancing spin off show It Takes Two, the legendary Zoe Ball has left her presenting role after ten years and now professional Strictly dancer Janette Manrara has hung up her dancing shoes as she joins Rylan Clark-Neal on the sofa. Because of her new presenting role, it means Janette won't be dancing on Strictly Come Dancing 2021, however she has promised that she will continue with her passion. She told the BBC: "I am still going to be seeing my fellow pros all the time and I will keep dancing, as they say." 

Zoe Ball announced her departure from the show last month with a post on her social media pages. She said: "Dancer lovers, after 10 joyous years I am walking away from It Takes Two. As a massive @bbcstrictly fan I have loved spending my Autumn teatimes with the celebrity dancers, the gorgeous and awesome pro dancers, the judges, my girl Vicky Gill, Rylan, Gethin and of course my main man Ian Waite. Time now for some new cha cha challenges."

Who won the last series of Strictly Come Dancing?

Bill and Oti lift the litter ball trophy in 2020

Bill danced his way to victory with partner Oti Mabuse in 2020. (Image credit: BBC / Guy Levy)

Strictly Come Dancing 2020 was a huge hit, giving fans some much-needed escapism and entertainment on their Saturday night.

The final saw EastEnders star Maisie Smith, comedian Bill Bailey, Made in Chelsea's Jaime Laing and singer HRVY all battle it out over the glitterball trophy.

In the end it was Bill Bailey and his dance partner Oti Mabuse who were crowned winners, making Oti the first Strictly professional dancer to win two years in a row.

We will update this article as and when new information is released about Strictly Come Dancing 2021.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC1 on Saturday 18 September at 7.45pm.