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Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launches in style as Anton Du Beke takes his place on the judging panel

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launches in style as Anton Du Beke takes his place on the judging panel and pairings are unveiled as the BBC show kicks off amid Covid-19 crisis after two professional dancers refuse vaccine

  • Tess Daly, 52, and Claudia Winkleman, 49, returned to the ballroom for the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 on Saturday night
  • 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. 

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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. 

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. 

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.’ 

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'

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’

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. 

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. 

STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?

TOM FLETCHER

Age: 36

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!

ROBERT WEBB

 Age: 48

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. 

RHYS STEPHENSON  

Age: 27

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 MCGLYNN

 Age: 28

Profession: Actress

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. 

TILLY RAMSAY

Age: 19

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 WADIA  

Age: 52

Profession: Actress

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 PEATY

Age: 26

Profession: Athlete 

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.

UGO MONYE

 

Age: 38

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.

 

AJ ODUDU

Age: 33

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.

JOHN WHAITE

Age: 33

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 DAVIES 

Age: 37  

Profession:  Businesswoman

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 WALKER

Age: 44 

Profession: Journalist

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 WISE

Age: 55

Profession: Actor

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 AYLING-ELLIS

Age: 30

Profession: Actress

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 LOVE

Age: 41

Profession: Comedienne 

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.

 

 

 

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