Strictly Come Dancing 2017 stars’ code names revealed

Classical gods and heroes was the inspiration for this year's names

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Keeping the names of the new Strictly Come Dancing contestants a secret is a serious business and the BBC go to extreme measures to protect the celebrities’ identities and prolong the suspense – even as far as giving them code names.

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And each year those names are linked by a different theme. Last year it was Shakespeare characters, the year before that it was Disney and this year the celebs are all named after classical gods and heroes….

Alexandra Burke – Aphrodite

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Ooh-err. Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and – erm – procreation. Former X Factor winner has certainly sung her fair share of love songs over the years, and even starred in romantic musical The Bodyguard. She also appeared on Celebrity First Dates a few years ago, but sadly didn’t find romance on the C4 show.

 
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As the Greek goddess of sorcery, it seems fitting that Debbie McGee – magician and assistant to late husband Paul Daniels – was given the name Circe by the Strictly producers.
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This one needs no explanation. We all know Hercales was famous for his athleticism and strength, so it’s no wonder that the moniker went to Paralympian Jonnie. Check out those muscles!
With only one sportsman on the line-up this year, that code name was only ever going to be his.
 
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A beautiful princess of Greek mythology, the Holby City actress had the code name Andromeda behind the scenes on the show. Legend has it that she was saved by Perseus when she was in distress. We hope someone’s told Strictly and EastEnders star Davood Ghadami (who had the code name Perseus) about this…

Charlotte Hawkins – Aurora

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As a stalwart of Good Morning Britain, Charlotte Hawkins is there first things every morning to welcome a new day. Which is probably why her code name behind the scenes was Aurora – the God of dawn!

Brian Conley – Apollo

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Presenter, comedian, actor, singer – Brian Conley is a man with many strings to his bow, so maybe that’s why he’s been named after Apollo, the Greek god of music, prophecy, healing, the sun, poetry, and numerous other things. Whether dancing is one of them we’ll soon find out…

Susan Calman – Thalia

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Thalia: the goddess that presided over earth’s comedy, an obvious nod to Calman’s stand-up career. Here’s hoping her dancefloor moves won’t make Calman a laughing stock on Saturday nights.

Aston Merrygold – Hermes

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Hermes was the messenger of the gods but would also outwit them and was known as “the divine trickster”  – perhaps to match Aston’s cheeky personality…?

Simon Rimmer – Bacchus

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Bacchus was the god of agriculture, wine and (weirdly) fertility. With Simon’s background as a chef and restauranteur, he’s surely the god of food and drink!

Joe McFadden – Morpheus

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Joe was known as Morpheus behind the scenes before he was revealed as the sixth Strictly celebrity. Morpheus was the god of dreams. Perhaps because the Holby City star is so…dreamy?

Richard Coles – Zeus

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“I think it’s because I’m so old,” said Richard when he was announced as a confirmed name for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. Surely it’s because you’re the King of the Gods, Richard?

Gemma Atkinson – Athena

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Athena was 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.

Ruth Langsford – Hera

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Hera is known as the queen of the gods – and Ruth is the queen of daytime TV!

Davood Ghadami – Perseus

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The EastEnders actor’s nickname was one of Greek mythology’s greatest heroes. Perseus was also meant to be tall and athletic, so Davood certainly fits the bill!

Also, Perseus was chosen for Davood as a nod to his Persian heritage, as apparently there is a suggestion that Perseus was the founder of Persia!

Mollie King – Clio

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Clio was one of the nine Greek muses and the goddesses of music, song and dance and was considered to be the inventor of the guitar. Fittingly, Mollie not only writes music and is a former member of The Saturdays, but she also plays the guitar!


Every year, the Strictly producers come up with codes for the celebrities so that their identity behind the scenes isn’t blown. In 2016, the theme was Shakespeare, while the cast of 2015 had Disney code names.

The mastermind behind the whole code name shebang is Strictly’s talent executive Vinnie Shergill, who comes up with the theme and also all the names for the celebs.

Now we can’t wait to see if there’s a Zeus, Hercules and Apollo in the mix.

Strictly Come Dancing airs this autumn on BBC1.