Strictly Come Dancing is back!
Tess Daly, 52, and Claudia Winkleman, 49, returned to the ballroom for the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 on Saturday night, which opened with a sensational group performance from the professional dancers.
Dusting off their paddles were returning judges Shirley Ballas, 61, Craig Revel Horwood, 56, and Motsi Mabuse, 40, alongside the newest addition to the panel, Strictly’s longest-serving professional dancer Anton Du Beke, 55.
Here he is! Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launched in style on Saturday night as Anton Du Beke took his place on the judging panel
Drenched in sequins, the talented professional dancers glittered across the ballroom before the show’s hosts and judging panel made glamorous entrances.
Tess sat atop a plastic white horse while dressed in a cripst white strapless jumpsuit as her blonde tresses billowed in the breeze.
Claudia launched a sparkling confetti from a cannon while clad in a jaw-dropping black sequin number.
The judges in turn gave some sass as they posed for the camera before making their way to the judging table.
Loving it! The Strictly stalwart put on a pair of sunglasses while clad in a sleek tux
Shirley opened by telling Tess and Claudia: ‘I’m so excited. It’s such an honour, such a privilege to be back here with everyone in this iconic ballroom.
‘I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve got in store!’
Asked what it takes to win the glitterball Trophy, Anton pulled it up from by his side and joked: ‘I don’t really know. This is the closest I’ve ever come to this.
‘They tell me hard work, listen to your partner and practice, practice, practice.’
Later, speaking to camera in a pre-recorded moment, he admitted: ‘I hope they seat me on the opposite side to Craig. He’s gonna be all rude and unpleasant and I’m gonna be lovely!’
An honour! Shirley opened by telling Tess and Claudia: ‘I’m so excited. It’s such an honour, such a privilege to be back here with everyone in this iconic ballroom’
Introducing himself, Roberts Webb enthused about taking part in Strictly: ‘It’s one of the first things I’ve done that my children can actually watch,’ before admitting his eldest was less impressed than his youngest daughter.
The comedian’s professional dance partner was revealed as Dianne Buswell. After meeting, the red haired beauty taught her partner a few basic moves in a car park.
Speaking to Claudia, Dianne revealed to Robert that their first dance would be the Cha Cha Cha to Rasputin.
Daddy’s on TV! Introducing himself, Roberts Webb enthused about taking part in Strictly: ‘It’s one of the first things I’ve done that my children can actually watch’
It’s Dianne! The comedian’s professional dance partner was revealed as Dianne Buswell
Katie McGlynn admitted: ‘Being on Strictly means I have to be myself. It is nerve wracking I have to say, but I’m excited about it.’
After showing off her rope-pulling mime moves, the soap star joked: ‘Just hand me the trophy!’
After a nerve-wracking wait, Katie’s professional dance partner was unveiled as Gorka Marquez.
While chatting to Claudia, Katie once again showed off her rope lasso move, leaving Gorka to insist that he would be putting in the signature move to their first dance.
Exciting! Katie McGlynn admitted: ‘Being on Strictly means I have to be myself. It is nerve wracking I have to say, but I’m excited about it’
It’s Gorka! After a nerve-wracking wait, Katie’s professional dance partner was unveiled as Gorka Marquez
Rhys Stephenson confessed that he’s ready to do whatever it takes to be a Strictly success, insisting: ‘I’m merely a canvas, Strictly is the artist. Do what you want.’
Rhys ended up being partnered with Nancy Xu and admitted to Claudia that he has had Strictly playlist for years, which he said is ‘full of bangers.’
Sara Davies touched on her Dragon’s Den fame as she told viewers: ‘We’re ditching the boardbroom and heading to the ballroom instead!’
The businesswoman’s partner was unveiled as Aljaž Skorjanec, and the professional dancer wasted no time in getting started by teaching her how to do ‘big fish, small fish.’
The pair showed their differences as Sarah insisted she wanted to be up and i npractice sessions from 6am every day, while Aljaž admitted his more of an 11am riser.
Ready for action! Rhys Stephenson confessed that he’s ready to do whatever it takes to be a Strictly success, insisting: ‘I’m merely a canvas, Strictly is the artist. Do what you want.’
It’s Nancy! Rhys ended up being partnered with Nancy Xu and admitted to Claudia that he has had Strictly playlist for years, which he said is ‘full of bangers’
Taking a break from the unveiling of pairings, viewers were introduced to the four new professional dancers who have joined the BBC show.
Performing a sizzling mix of sexy dances with some of the stalwart Strictly dancing pros, Jowita Przystal, 26, Nikita Kuzmin, 23, Kai Widdrington, 25, and Cameron Lombard, 20, looked completely at ease.
They all came together in a dance filmed in a warehouse before stepping out onto the Strictly ballroom to huge applause.
Boardroom to ballroom: Sara Davies touched on her Dragon’s Den fame as she told viewers: ‘We’re ditching the boardbroom and heading to the ballroom instead!’
The businesswoman’s partner was unveiled as Aljaž Skorjanec
Next up, Dan Walker admitted that waltzing into a world of glitter and daring costumes is something he’s not particularly at ease with, saying: ‘I’ve never undone two buttons in my life!’
The BBC Broadcaster was partnered with Nadiya Bychkova and he admitted: ‘She has fully put me at ease – I think we can do it, together!’
While signing as she spoke, Rose Ayling-Ellis gushed: ‘When the Strictly news was announced, The response from the deaf community was my proudest moment.’
‘You hear with body language, with vibrations, with atmosphere. I can still enjoy music, it’s just a different experience.’
While on the dancefloor chatting to Tess, actress Rose reiterated her earlier sentiments about the positivity she’s had from the deaf community and added: ‘Finally they see someone like them on Strictly!’
The soap star also introduced her interpreter for the first time, explaining that she would be there to help Rose to communicate.
Amazing! While signing as she spoke, Rose Ayling-Ellis gushed: ‘When the Strictly news was announced, The response from the deaf community was my proudest moment’
It’s Giovanni! Giovanni Pernice was unveiled as Rose’s professional dance partner
Giovanni Pernice was unveiled as Rose’s professional dance partner, and showed off some of the sign language he has learned, and continued to ask her to teach him at every opportunity.
‘He’s very open to teaching me in a new way!’ gushed Rose to Claudia, before being told that they would be performing the jive as their first dance.
Adam Peaty spoke to camera in his introduction to reel off his incredible sporting achievements.
Chatting to Tess on the dancefloor he said: ‘I’m a swimmer, I’m meant to be horizontal. Being vertical I’m not so comfortable!’
Adam’s professional partner was unveiled as Katya Jones, and told the camera: ‘This is how it’s going to work – I tell him what to do. He listens and does.’
Claudia branded the pairing: ‘the most competitive couple we’ve ever had!’
AJ Odudu admitted: ‘You may never have seen me at all!’ after listing her presenting credentials, and confessed: ‘I’m hoping this experiences unleashes gracefulness in me.’
The presenter was paired with new Strictly professional dancer Kai Widdrington.
AJ also revealed that she once broke her toe on a disco ball in her living room while ‘living it up’ watching Strictly Come Dancing on TV.
Greg Wise enthused: ‘Give me all the feathers, all the sequins. I am ready to give 100%. This 55 year old man might surprise you!’
While at a stately home, Greg arrived on a white horse and was paired up with Karen Hauer, with the duo admitting they were both ‘thrilled.’
The actor admitted of Karen: ‘Secretly, I was hoping I would get her.’
Judi Love was bursting with energy as she introduced herself to viewers and stated: ‘From this day forward, I am a dancer… I am gonna dance my socks off!’
John Whaite admitted ‘I’ve made it now’ as he spoke in a confessional about how excited he was to secure a place on Strictly.
Explaining his passion for being glammed up, he admitted: ‘I once went into school with fake tan and was given a scourer to take it off.’
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?
Profession: McFly musician
Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’
Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Profession: Actor and comedian
Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’
Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’
Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Katie says: ‘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.’
Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’
Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.
Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’
Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’
Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit
Ugo says: ‘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.
Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
Profession: TV presenter
AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’
Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef
John says: ‘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’
Fun Fact: John is set tp be part of the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.
Sara says: ‘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.’
Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.
Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’
Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.
Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’
Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.
Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’
Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant.
Judi says: ‘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!’
Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.