Strictly Come Dancing 2021: EastEnders’ Nina Wadia is the 11th star

Nina Wadia is the 11th celebrity contestant confirmed for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing

The EastEnders actress, 52, was unveiled during Thursday’s episode of Lorraine and admitted the only way she would stand a chance of winning the show is if she ‘blindfolded the judges’. 

Speaking to stand-in host Christine Lampard, the mother-of-two admitted: ‘I am so scared!’ 

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: EastEnders' Nina Wadia is the 11th star announced and jokes she'll need to blindfold the judges in order to win

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: EastEnders' Nina Wadia is the 11th star announced and jokes she'll need to blindfold the judges in order to win

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: EastEnders’ Nina Wadia is the 11th star announced and jokes she’ll need to blindfold the judges in order to win

She continued: ‘I like dancing like no one’s watching, so we just need to blindfold the judges and I’m going to win!

‘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.’

Nina added that she was concerned about getting dolled up with all the typical Strictly glamour as she confessed: ‘I always been a little bit of a tomboy so this is going to be a little bit of a struggle with me, the sequins and tanning – which makes me laugh because I’m Indian!’ 

Discussing her fellow contestants she revealed she’d already guessed a winner, saying: ‘I love Robert Webb and I think he’s amazing. 

‘I’d want to vote for him and when I saw him do his flash dance for Comic Relief I thought no one can top that!’ 

Nina concluded: ‘It’s been a bit of a tough ride for a couple of years so I think its time we can go into fantasy land. I don’t even mind if people laugh at me I just want people to laugh!’   

Nina is best known  for playing Zainab Masood in EastEnders, where she won Best Onscreen Partnership and Best Comedy at the British Soap Awards.  

The actress also had starring roles in Goodness Gracious Me and the Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours.  

A JDRF ambassador, she received an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.

The news comes after Greg Wise was announced as the tenth celebrity contestant on Strictly. 

The Sense and Sensibility actor, 55, was unveiled during Wednesday’s episode of This Morning and revealed he finally decided to sign up to honour the five year anniversary of his sister Clare’s death from cancer. 

Speaking about his motivation, Greg – who is married to Emma Thompson – explained: ‘Clare was a huge disco diva and we sent her out of this life in a disco ball coffin to banging 80s music.’

New contestant: Emma Thompson's husband Greg Wise signed up to Strictly in honour of his late sister who loved the show so much she was buried in a glitterball coffin

New contestant: Emma Thompson's husband Greg Wise signed up to Strictly in honour of his late sister who loved the show so much she was buried in a glitterball coffin

New contestant: Emma Thompson’s husband Greg Wise signed up to Strictly in honour of his late sister who loved the show so much she was buried in a glitterball coffin

He continued: ‘She’s prodding me massively to do it. Clare will enjoy watching her little brother do it. She’ll be sitting on my left or right shoulder depending on how well I’m doing 

Clare was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and started a witty and heartfelt blog detailing her battle with the disease. 

She was declared cancer-free in 2014, but in 2015 the disease dug into her bones and she was told it was incurable. There were tumours in her arms, ribs, spine and skull. 

Greg cancelled a family holiday in Greece and moved into his sister Clare’s London flat in the final three months of her life, in order to be her full-time carer, before her death in 2016 aged 51.  

Tragic: Clare was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, was declared cancer-free in 2014, but in 2015 the disease dug into her bones and she was told it was incurable (pictured in 2013)

Tragic: Clare was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, was declared cancer-free in 2014, but in 2015 the disease dug into her bones and she was told it was incurable (pictured in 2013)

Tragic: Clare was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, was declared cancer-free in 2014, but in 2015 the disease dug into her bones and she was told it was incurable (pictured in 2013)

On the night she died Greg wiped her face, told her he loved her and gave her permission to go when she wanted. She died one minute later, holding his hand. 

Greg said in a statement: ‘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…’

Cute couple: Greg added that his wife Emma Thompson was 'stupidly excited' that he would be appearing on the show (pictured in 2020)

Cute couple: Greg added that his wife Emma Thompson was 'stupidly excited' that he would be appearing on the show (pictured in 2020)

Cute couple: Greg added that his wife Emma Thompson was ‘stupidly excited’ that he would be appearing on the show (pictured in 2020) 

Greg is an actor 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, and the book Not That Kind of Love with his late sister Clare. 

He revealed that wife Emma was ‘stupidly excited’ he would be appearing on the show.  

Speaking on This Morning, he continued: ‘It’s going to be so important having her there. She’s done three films back-to-back this year, so she’s exhausted now anyway.

Motivated: Speaking about his motivation, Greg explained, 'Clare was a huge disco diva and we sent her out of this life in a disco ball coffin to banging 80s music'

Motivated: Speaking about his motivation, Greg explained, 'Clare was a huge disco diva and we sent her out of this life in a disco ball coffin to banging 80s music'

Motivated: Speaking about his motivation, Greg explained, ‘Clare was a huge disco diva and we sent her out of this life in a disco ball coffin to banging 80s music’

Nerves: He also admitted he is 'more nervous' about having the spotlight on him - due to him being a part of the dance show - than he is about taking to the dance floor

Nerves: He also admitted he is 'more nervous' about having the spotlight on him - due to him being a part of the dance show - than he is about taking to the dance floor

Nerves: He also admitted he is ‘more nervous’ about having the spotlight on him – due to him being a part of the dance show – than he is about taking to the dance floor

He also admitted he is ‘more nervous’ about having the spotlight on him – due to him being a part of the dance show – than he is about taking to the dance floor and strutting his stuff.

When it was suggested there would be a lot of attention on him during his Strictly stint, he said: ‘Yeah, which is one of the things I’m slightly more nervous about than the actual dance steps.

‘But it’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’

One to watch: Greg is an actor known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown (pictured) Cranford and his breakout role in Sense and Sensibility

One to watch: Greg is an actor known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown (pictured) Cranford and his breakout role in Sense and Sensibility

One to watch: Greg is an actor known for his various film, television and theatre roles, including The Crown (pictured) Cranford and his breakout role in Sense and Sensibility

Moments earlier, Matilda ‘Tilly’ Ramsay was revealed as the ninth contestant. 

The CBBC presenter – who is the daughter of chef Gordon Ramsay – was unveiled during Wednesday’s episode of This Morning and her famous father also made a cameo as he recorded a clip to show to her.

In the video, Gordon, 54, cheekily warned Tilly, 19, not to date any of the dancers, while Tilly admitted she was ‘terrified’ of the challenge that lies ahead.    

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly, 19, was the NINTH contestant announced - as her dad warned her not to date any of the dancers!

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly, 19, was the NINTH contestant announced - as her dad warned her not to date any of the dancers!

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly, 19, was the NINTH contestant announced – as her dad warned her not to date any of the dancers!

Tilly revealed she’ll be fitting in her appearance on the show around her studies, as she starts university in September, but said she’s ‘excited for the challenge’ of making it all work. 

Speaking on the show, Tilly said of the show: ‘It’s slightly terrifying. Obviously my mum and dad knew. 

‘I’ve tried dancing when I was younger, ballet and stuff, but I wasn’t very good so I moved to football camp. 

‘Remembering choreography terrifies me. I’m looking forward to the glitz and the glamour, and learning something new – that’s always fun.’ 

Proud parent: The CBBC presenter - who is the daughter of chef Gordon Ramsay - was unveiled during Wednesday's episode of This Morning (pictured together in a throwback)

Proud parent: The CBBC presenter - who is the daughter of chef Gordon Ramsay - was unveiled during Wednesday's episode of This Morning (pictured together in a throwback)

Proud parent: The CBBC presenter – who is the daughter of chef Gordon Ramsay – was unveiled during Wednesday’s episode of This Morning (pictured together in a throwback) 

This Morning hosts Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford then surprised Tilly with a video message from her parents, in which dad Gordon said: ‘Wishing you all the very best. Proud of you girl.’

Tilly’s mum Tana then quipped, ‘Glad it’s her and not you [Gordon]. Tilly you’re incredibly brave. Good luck,’ before Gordon jumped in to warn: ‘And don’t date those dancers!’   

Tilly often shares dancing videos with her dad on TikTok and said she believes Gordon secretly wants to take part in Strictly, but he would be ‘too scared’ to go through with it.

She said: ‘I think he does, but I think he’d be too scared to. Trust me when I say he’s not the best dancer. Sorry, dad!” 

Speaking on the show, Tilly said of the show: ‘It’s slightly terrifying. Obviously my mum and dad knew’

Tilly said in a statement: ‘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!’

After the announcement, Gordon took to Instagram to gush: ‘ So proud of this one @tillyramsay youngest dancer ever ! good luck darling❤️ @bbcstrictly’. 

Sweet: This Morning hosts Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford then surprised Tilly with a video message from her parents, in which dad Gordon said: 'Wishing you all the very best'

Sweet: This Morning hosts Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford then surprised Tilly with a video message from her parents, in which dad Gordon said: 'Wishing you all the very best'

Sweet: This Morning hosts Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford then surprised Tilly with a video message from her parents, in which dad Gordon said: ‘Wishing you all the very best’

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 dad Gordon. 

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: 'Remembering choreography terrifies me. I'm looking forward to the glitz and the glamour, and learning something new - that's always fun'

Tilly said: 'Remembering choreography terrifies me. I'm looking forward to the glitz and the glamour, and learning something new - that's always fun'

Learning: Tilly revealed she'll be fitting in her appearance on the show around her studies, as she starts university in September, but said she's 'excited for the challenge' of making it all work

Learning: Tilly revealed she'll be fitting in her appearance on the show around her studies, as she starts university in September, but said she's 'excited for the challenge' of making it all work

Tilly said: ‘Remembering choreography terrifies me. I’m looking forward to the glitz and the glamour, and learning something new – that’s always fun’

Multi-tasker: 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 dad Gordon

Multi-tasker: 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 dad Gordon

Multi-tasker: 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 dad Gordon

It comes after Katie McGlynn and Dan Walker were confirmed as the latest contestants on the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The former Corrie star, 28, and journalist, 44, were announced as being the seventh and eighth stars set to compete on the hit show during Tuesday’s BBC Breakfast.

They will join Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies, Rhys Stephenson, AJ Odudu, GBBO’s John Whaite, Robert Webb and Tom Fletcher in the impressive line-up.  

Joining the show! Katie McGlynn (pictured) and Dan Walker were confirmed as celebrity contestants on the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing line-up on Tuesday

Joining the show! Katie McGlynn (pictured) and Dan Walker were confirmed as celebrity contestants on the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing line-up on Tuesday

Joining the show! Katie McGlynn (pictured) and Dan Walker were confirmed as celebrity contestants on the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing line-up on Tuesday 

Katie 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 per cent on the dance floor! As long as I don’t fall over I’ll be happy.’ 

Star-studded! Journalist Dan, 44, is the eighth star confirmed to take part in the show

Star-studded! Journalist Dan, 44, is the eighth star confirmed to take part in the show

Star-studded! Journalist Dan, 44, is the eighth star confirmed to take part in the show

New challenges: Dan's part in the competition comes after he announced he was stepping down as presenter of Football Focus (pictured on the show) following 12 years at the helm

New challenges: Dan's part in the competition comes after he announced he was stepping down as presenter of Football Focus (pictured on the show) following 12 years at the helm

New challenges: Dan’s part in the competition comes after he announced he was stepping down as presenter of Football Focus (pictured on the show) following 12 years at the helm 

Katie is 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. 

The actress was also 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.

While Dan, who recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm, appeared via video for the big reveal as he’s on holiday after presenting the Olympics in Tokyo.

He said: ‘I only told my kids last weekend so they’re not very happy with me either, hardly anyone has been in the circle. I’m very sorry I was told it would make great telly if I didn’t tell you Louise! [his co-presenter, Minchin]’

Exciting news: Dan appeared via video, much to the surprise of Katie and his BBC Breakfast co-hosts, for the big reveal because he's on holiday after presenting the Olympics in Tokyo

Exciting news: Dan appeared via video, much to the surprise of Katie and his BBC Breakfast co-hosts, for the big reveal because he's on holiday after presenting the Olympics in Tokyo

Exciting news: Dan appeared via video, much to the surprise of Katie and his BBC Breakfast co-hosts, for the big reveal because he’s on holiday after presenting the Olympics in Tokyo

Dan continued: ‘My 20 years of contemporary dance training are helpful! I’m one of those people I’ve danced at three weddings and two school discos.

‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of actually learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’

And turning his attention to a pro partner and getting on the dancefloor, Dan said: ‘I will accept anyone if they will accept me! 

‘I’m 6ft 6 so the question often asked is can anyone that tall look half decent on the television when trying to dance, just anyone who is tall enough, and doesn’t mind the odd stray elbow in the back.’

The TV host also chatted about his pal Shirley Ballas, adding: ‘Shirley is always a pro isn’t she? We did a Comic Relief thing together, and she was really upset so I did a Paso Doble thing with one of the rugs and it really made her laugh.

Bring it on: Katie admitted that she's 'really not a dancer, but I'm so excited to learn a new skill'

Bring it on: Katie admitted that she's 'really not a dancer, but I'm so excited to learn a new skill'

Bring it on: Katie admitted that she’s ‘really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill’

Tragic: Katie is best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Corrie, for which she was BAFTA nominated and won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020

Tragic: Katie is best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Corrie, for which she was BAFTA nominated and won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020

Tragic: Katie is best known for her role as Sinead Tinker in Corrie, for which she was BAFTA nominated and won a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020

Up for a challenge: Looking ahead to the competition, Dan joked that he's 'not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball'

Up for a challenge: Looking ahead to the competition, Dan joked that he's 'not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball'

Up for a challenge: Looking ahead to the competition, Dan joked that he’s ‘not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball’

Unexpected: Dan didn't tell his BBC Breakfast co-host Louise Minchin about his Strictly gig

Unexpected: Dan didn't tell his BBC Breakfast co-host Louise Minchin about his Strictly gig

Unexpected: Dan didn’t tell his BBC Breakfast co-host Louise Minchin about his Strictly gig

‘It won’t affect our friendship as I hope this won’t affect our friendship Louise.’

However it seems like Dan’s real judges might be his children, with him revealing their reactions: ‘My children said this, one said “oh this is exciting”, another one said “don’t dance with your mouth open”, and the third said “don’t go out in week one”.

‘It’s just going to be, as you well know you need a bit of fun and we’ve been sat on our sofa for the past year and dealing with some horrible stories so I think it will be nice for our kids to be able to watch something that’s not a matter of life and death.’

Dan added: ‘Last Christmas I sat down with the children and they said “dad, we’d love you to do some TV we’d like to watch, Saturday Mashup and Strictly”, hopefully I won’t embarrass them too much!

'It has the magic to make everybody smile': Katie also praised Strictly for 'pulling everybody' together with its 2020 series during the pandemic

'It has the magic to make everybody smile': Katie also praised Strictly for 'pulling everybody' together with its 2020 series during the pandemic

‘It has the magic to make everybody smile’: Katie also praised Strictly for ‘pulling everybody’ together with its 2020 series during the pandemic

It's all feathers and sequins from now! Katie was revealed to much fanfare, with dancers creating a dramatic entrance for the actress

It's all feathers and sequins from now! Katie was revealed to much fanfare, with dancers creating a dramatic entrance for the actress

It’s all feathers and sequins from now! Katie was revealed to much fanfare, with dancers creating a dramatic entrance for the actress

Stunning: Katie rocked a green and white wrap dress styled with summery white heels for the announcement on Tuesday

Stunning: Katie rocked a green and white wrap dress styled with summery white heels for the announcement on Tuesday

Stunning: Katie rocked a green and white wrap dress styled with summery white heels for the announcement on Tuesday

All smiles: She could not hide her excitement after leaving the London studios following the big reveal

All smiles: She could not hide her excitement after leaving the London studios following the big reveal

All smiles: She could not hide her excitement after leaving the London studios following the big reveal

‘I have no idea where the tiny bit of talent will take, I’m just going to enjoy it, have a bit of fun, my phone is full of people who are very angry I never told them about this!’

Katie, who didn’t know a second announcement was happening, then added: ‘I’m so excited. I think last year everybody pulled together for Strictly and it was a kind of a blessing, and I think this year it has the magic to make everybody smile.’  

The latest announcements come after Sara Davies was revealed as being set to compete – joking that she can’t wait to see the ‘impact of training on her mum tum’.

The Dragons’ Den star, 37, could not hide her excitement as she was confirmed to be a celebrity contestant and chatted on Good Morning Britain on Monday. 

Speaking about the show, 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. 

Joining the line-up! Sara Davies was revealed as the sixth contestant set to compete in this year's Strictly Come Dancing on Monday

Joining the line-up! Sara Davies was revealed as the sixth contestant set to compete in this year's Strictly Come Dancing on Monday

Joining the line-up! Sara Davies was revealed as the sixth contestant set to compete in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing on Monday

‘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.’ 

Sara was the youngest ever dragon on the panel of entrepreneurs on BBC show 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 over 30 business awards and, in 2016, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the economy. 

From the boardroom to the ballroom! The Dragons' Den star, 37, (pictured on the show) admitted she's not too confident about her dancing skills but is excited for the challenge

From the boardroom to the ballroom! The Dragons' Den star, 37, (pictured on the show) admitted she's not too confident about her dancing skills but is excited for the challenge

From the boardroom to the ballroom! The Dragons’ Den star, 37, (pictured on the show) admitted she’s not too confident about her dancing skills but is excited for the challenge 

Got any tips? Kate, who has also competed on Strictly, reassured Sara that she didn't have much dancing experience before taking part either

Got any tips? Kate, who has also competed on Strictly, reassured Sara that she didn't have much dancing experience before taking part either

Got any tips? Kate, who has also competed on Strictly, reassured Sara that she didn’t have much dancing experience before taking part either

While chatting to GMB’s Kate Garraway on Monday, Sara also revealed that she’s always wanted to try out her dancing skills on Strictly since being a ‘little girl’. 

Sara added: ‘It just looks like the most amazing experience but it always felt like a pipe dream. Then I joined Dragons’ Den and Deborah [Meaden] had done it and I didn’t dare to dream, but hoped one day maybe.’ 

The businesswoman also discussed plans for a live studio audience being able to watch the stars compete in the 2021 Strictly series.

Sara said she’s hoping that small family bubbles will come watch, gushing that it ‘will make my parents life’ as they’d be so excited to see her dance on the show.   

Speaking about the plans for an audience, Sara revealed: ‘I really hope so. 

‘We’re still waiting for a lot of the plans, but I believe they are going to be allowed a small studio audience. So maybe family bubbles. I just want my mum and dad to be able to come and watch. It will make their life.’  

Keep dancing! CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson was recently announced as the fifth star on the line-up

Keep dancing! CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson was recently announced as the fifth star on the line-up

Keep dancing! CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson was recently announced as the fifth star on the line-up

Taking to Instagram Rhys wrote: 'IT'S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can't wait to get started on this iconic show'

Taking to Instagram Rhys wrote: 'IT'S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can't wait to get started on this iconic show'

Taking to Instagram Rhys wrote: ‘IT’S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can’t wait to get started on this iconic show’

It comes after CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson, 27, was announced as the fifth celebrity to take part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.  

Rhys said he is ‘buzzing’ to be a part of Strictly and ‘can’t wait’ to start rehearsals for the show, set to air this autumn.  

The presenter revealed his signing on Newsround on Friday and said: ‘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.’

As well as presenting CBBC live, Rhys as 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, Rhys is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity which provides mental health services in schools.

Making history: Great British Bake Off winner John will be one-half of the show's first all-male partnership

Making history: Great British Bake Off winner John will be one-half of the show's first all-male partnership

Making history: Great British Bake Off winner John will be one-half of the show’s first all-male partnership

Yay! After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being'

Yay! After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being'

Yay! After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being’

Sharing his news on Instagram, the presenter wrote: ‘IT’S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can’t wait to get started on this iconic show, I want it all, the sequins, the costumes, Craig’s glare, BRING IT.’ 

Elsewhere in line-up news, Great British Bake Off winner John has revealed he will be one-half of the show’s first all-male partnership.       

After much controversy during the show’s 17 year run over the prospect of a same-sex pairing, Strictly is finally addressing the call for change with John delightedly praising the ‘great step forward in representation and inclusion’. 

He said: ‘What’s 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.’

John later took to Instagram to thank fans for their support, as he broke down in tears while talking into the camera.   

John went on: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 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…

‘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!’ 

After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, there’s so many nice messages already and I’ve only just come off air and I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being….

‘I’m so excited to be on Strictly, it’s a dream come true and it’s even more of a dream to be doing the first all-male partnership and I hope that there are kids watching who look up and think, ‘It’s okay to be who you are’.

‘So thanks for all the messages, I’m going back to bed, lots of love!’

John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23. John has presented various TV shows and currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch. 

He has written for a variety of newspaper and magazines on the topics of food and mental health, and has published five cookery books. John also runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen. 

Back then: John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23 (pictured in 2016)

Back then: John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23 (pictured in 2016)

Back then: John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23 (pictured in 2016)

John used his GBBO fame for good, when he won the show and began fighting for LGBTQ rights. He appeared on the cover of the UK gay culture magazine Attitude with his now husband-to-be, Paul Atkins, to whom he became engaged in 2017. 

He spoke about his experience of coming out, saying: ‘I didn’t really know any gay people because it was still a bit of a touchy subject, especially being a working class northern lad – it wasn’t often discussed…

‘But I really admired my friends at drama who were all very ‘fabulous darling’ and they really helped me through it. I definitely want to marry Paul (my partner of five years – not Paul Hollywood!) because I adore him and respect him so much…

‘I know I don’t want to be with anyone else and I have tested what else is out there! When it comes to cake, I’ll be making lots of our families’ favourites!’ 

Tough: John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes

Tough: John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes

Tough: John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes

John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes. 

He said: ‘Some days I’d wish I had never been on the show, because in reality, it totally derailed me from a steady lifepath. I could blame the production company or the BBC.

‘It would be simple to point the finger and say they gave me no advice on how to manage the transience of the industry, or how to comprehend the temporariness of my appeal.

‘They didn’t, and perhaps in the wake of reality TV star meltdowns and suicides, there should be a serious reform of the way contributors are prepared for, and guided through, their post-show life.

‘But I don’t think it would have made an ounce of difference even if they had. Addiction to the razzle dazzle came naturally to the youthful me… 

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 announces FIRST contestant! McFly pop star Tom Fletcher was unveiled as the first contestant

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 announces FIRST contestant! McFly pop star Tom Fletcher was unveiled as the first contestant

Star: Presenter AJ Odudu was one of the first contestants announced

Star: Presenter AJ Odudu was one of the first contestants announced

Line-up: It comes after the first three names have been announced for Strictly Come Dancing 2021 [pictured McFly’s Tom Fletcher (L) and presenter AJ Odudu (R)]

Starring role: Peep Show actor Robert Webb is also taking to the floor

Starring role: Peep Show actor Robert Webb is also taking to the floor

Starring role: Peep Show actor Robert Webb is also taking to the floor 

‘What I failed to remember though, was that age-old mantra: be careful what you wish for. Because as the next batch of Bake Off stars emerged, my appeal shrank. Year on year, the working days became fewer and financial offers were smaller.

‘The life to which I had become accustomed slowly dissolved. With more days alone at home, waiting by the phone like an anxious 1980s teenager urging their crush to call, my already depressed state of mind worsened…

‘I drank more than I should have and posted unwisely on Instagram and Twitter. If I knew then what I knew now, would I do it all again? Absolutely. But I’d approach it so differently.’ 

Last week, the first three names were announced for this year’s show.

McFly pop star Tom, Peep Show actor Robert and presenter AJ were revealed on Wednesday’s edition of The One Show, with the rest of the names set to be drip-fed to fans over the next couple of weeks.

Big shoes to fill! Tom's McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly n 2011 [pictured]

Big shoes to fill! Tom's McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly n 2011 [pictured]

Dancing past: Robert is sure to feel the pressure too, after he 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 [pictured]

Dancing past: Robert is sure to feel the pressure too, after he 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 [pictured]

Big shoes to fill! Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly n 2011 [L] while Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009 [R]

Music and dancing: Tom is on quarter of boy band McFly [pictured last week with Dougie Poynter and Danny Jones]

Music and dancing: Tom is on quarter of boy band McFly [pictured last week with Dougie Poynter and Danny Jones]

Music and dancing: Tom is on quarter of boy band McFly [pictured last week with Dougie Poynter and Danny Jones]

Tom, 36, has big shoes to fill on Strictly. His McFly bandmate Harry Judd won the show in 2011. And Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! 

Robert, 48, is sure to feel the pressure too, after he 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.  

2021 has been a busy year for AJ, 33, who has featured on 14 TV shows, including 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. 

The three contestants were unveiled one by one with The One Show presenter Alex Jones revealing they were given the code names of Buzz Lightyear (Tom), Spoongebob Squarepants (Robert) and Marge Simpson (AJ).

Excited: Tom was the first celebrity announced and said: 'I'm so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret'

Excited: Tom was the first celebrity announced and said: 'I'm so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret'

Excited: Tom was the first celebrity announced and said: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret’

Cackling: Tom also shared his sister's hilarious reaction to the news on Instagram, where it seemed she was beside herself with laughter

Cackling: Tom also shared his sister's hilarious reaction to the news on Instagram, where it seemed she was beside herself with laughter

Cackling: Tom also shared his sister’s hilarious reaction to the news on Instagram, where it seemed she was beside herself with laughter

The veteran dance show was famously disrupted in 2020 thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

But it seems things are back to normal in 2021 – apart from one or two factors still deemed too tricky to navigate amid the global health crisis.

Show boss Sarah James told The Mirror: ‘We’re so thrilled that Strictly will be returning for a full-length series this year, and know how much viewers are looking forward to getting their full Strictly fix and seeing the return of much-loved specials. 

‘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.’

The Blackpool episode ordinarily takes place near the end of the series, but was axed last year with restrictions throwing up logistical difficulties on the production. 

'Undertone of terror': Robert was the next star announced, along with a hilarious clip of his 2009 Comic Relief performance

'Undertone of terror': Robert was the next star announced, along with a hilarious clip of his 2009 Comic Relief performance

‘Undertone of terror’: Robert was the next star announced, along with a hilarious clip of his 2009 Comic Relief performance

Overjoyed: AJ was the third contestant announced and told how she kept her participation in the series a secret from her mother Florence, who was watching at home

Overjoyed: AJ was the third contestant announced and told how she kept her participation in the series a secret from her mother Florence, who was watching at home

Overjoyed: AJ was the third contestant announced and told how she kept her participation in the series a secret from her mother Florence, who was watching at home

But 2021 will include the show’s themed weeks – such as movie week, musicals week and Halloween week.

Last year, these were scrapped, proving too complicated to manage amid the pandemic. The show’s Christmas special will also be back, with the show set to start in its usual early-autumn time slot, rather than in October, like last year.

It’s said rather than a fewer number of celebs, the full 15 will be taking part again, having cut this to 12 last series.

Still a no-go: Blackpool has been axed AGAIN due to the ongoing pandemic

Still a no-go: Blackpool has been axed AGAIN due to the ongoing pandemic

Still a no-go: Blackpool has been axed AGAIN due to the ongoing pandemic

There are also plans to reinstate the live audience too – another aspect disallowed last season.

Isolation will remain in place for the professional dancers. This will see them sent to a hotel near the Strictly studios in Hertfordshire several weeks ahead of the show’s return.

The celebs will also not have the usual three-week gap between being paired up with their pros and dancing for the first time on live TV. This has been reduced to one week thanks to logistical factors.  

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. 

 

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: AJ 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 the panel of entrepreneurs on BBC show Dragons’ Den, when she joined in 2019. 

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.

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