Who is Strictly Come Dancing celebrity contestant Gemma Atkinson?

The former Emmerdale actress says she's "thrilled" to be joining series 15 of Strictly

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Gemma Atkinson is the fourth confirmed celebrity for Strictly Come Dancing 2017. Here’s everything you need to know:

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Age: 32

Strictly Come Dancing code name: Athena – the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, strategic warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. So basically, a bit of absolutely everything! This name was chosen for Gemma as she trains daily – like many of the heroes and warriors Athena was patron to.

Twitter: @MissGAtkinson

Instagram: glouiseatkinson

She says: “I am honoured to be asked and so thrilled to be joining Strictly Come Dancing 2017! I’m beyond excited and incredibly nervous but I am looking forward to learning a new skill in ballroom and latin dancing and taking on this new challenge.”

What is Gemma Atkinson famous for?

Soap fans will instantly recognise Gemma as she played Carly Hope in Emmerdale and also Lisa Hunter on Hollyoaks and Tamzin Bayle in Casualty.

Gemma Atkinson biography

Borin in 1984, Manchester-born Gemma first found fame in the early 00s as Lisa in Hollyoaks – a character she also played in spin-offs Hollyoaks: After Hours, Let Loose and In the City.

After five years in the soap, she left and went into the I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! jungle, as well as participating in the much-missed Soapstar Superstar – the Pop Idol-esque reality show where soap actors would perform for a panel including Cilla Black and Michael Ball as they tried to win viewer votes.

ITV really need to bring that show back.

After finishing fifth in series two, Gemma starred in a few forgotten films before landing the role of Tamzin in Casualty in 2011.

However it’s for Emmerdale that Gemma is best known for. She played the role of Carly for two years and appeared in nearly 250 episodes of the soap until she left earlier this year.

At the time, she said: “Like Carly if I get too comfortable I have to go and start something else and take a leap of faith before I get stuck. This job is amazing but I’m wary of just becoming part of the furniture.

“I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made, particularly Mark Charnock who plays Marlon. But I’m staying in the Emmerdale charity band Main Street so I’ll still be seeing my mates when we get together for gigs.

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“So it’s the end for the moment but not forever, I’m 100% sure Carly will return as she has unfinished business in the village, it’s just a case of figuring out when and why – and who she can mess up when she gets back!”

Does Gemma have any dance experience?

Speaking about her previous dance experience on BBC Breakfast as she was unveiled, Gemma said she “did disco dancing from age 9 to 10”, but that it was basically just doing cartwheels across the floor.

“As far as any dance training goes, I haven’t had any,” she said, adding that “after a few drinks, I think I’m Britney Spears, but I’m absolutely not at all.”

She also revealed that she wants to be paired up with a professional who is “tall and strong” as at 5′ 9″ she’ll need a taller chap to spin her around the dance floor… as long as they don’t drop her. “That’s my only fear, being dropped!” she said.

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Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 in the autumn