Strictly Come Dancing Shakespeare code names revealed

This year's Strictly competitors have been keeping their identities under wraps by taking the names of characters from Shakespeare's plays

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Strictly Come Dancing bosses are being their usual secretive selves, drip-feeding us this year’s contestants rather than letting us have them all in one go. 

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It’s quite the logistical puzzle (nightmare?) as the team has to keep the identities of its contestants under wraps, while still getting them to rehearsals, medical checks, unveilings and the like. 

That’s where the code names come in. Last year it was Disney, with taxis, doctors appointments and more being booked for Nemo, Aladdin, Maleficent and the like. This year the theme is Shakespeare. 

Yes, the ballroom is looking to the Bard to keep its news hidden this year. 

As each celebrity is announced, we’ll find out exactly whom they’ve been masquerading as…

Tameka Empson: Cleopatra  

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Queen of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is a source of perpetual fascination and – as well as Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra – her story survives in multiple works including films and artwork. She is often shown using her charms to influence the most powerful men. But it’s unlikely to be a trick Tameka will need to get those tens from Len, admitting she’s been dying to “show the nation” her moves. Those big scores will flood in. 

Greg Rutherford: Achilles

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Here’s hoping dancing isn’t sport star Greg Rutherford’s Achilles’ heel now he’s signed up to all things sparkly. The Olympic long jumper should rather focus on his namesake’s place in Greek mythology (and indeed Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida) as a heroic Greek warrior. Much better. 

Lesley Joseph: Titania

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Lesley Joseph earned the name of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s queen of the fairies, Titania. A very proud creature and a force to contend with, this moniker could spell trouble for the judges if Ms Joseph says what she thinks… 

Judge Rinder: Brutus

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Et tu, Brute? Yes, TV judge Robert Rinder was codenamed for the friend-turned-assassin from Julius Caesar, with the professional barrister apparently insisting on the character for his secret designation.

Was he attracted to Brutus’ beautiful long speeches and sense of honour, or does Rinder have his own plans to turn the tables on his opponents? We’ll have to wait a little while to find out – but if we were the other contestants, we’d definitely be keeping an eye on this wannabe Roman…

Anastacia: Juliet

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But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and… Anastacia is the sun. Oh yes, The I’m Outta Love singer bagged a good one here, keeping her Strictly involvement secret by going by the name of Romeo and Juliet’s heroine. Who will be her Romeo? We’ll find out on Saturday 3rd of September’s launch show when the celebs are paired with their professional dancer. 
 
“I’m a total ’10’ on the level of excitement and definitely a ’10’ scared! Seriously though, I can’t wait to get started,” the singer said. “Taking part in Strictly is a dream, it’s such a new challenge for me I’ve never done anything like this before so I hope I pull it off!!! I’ve got a lot of training to do before I’m twinkle toes so I’m eager to get my partner and get going! I’m ready!” 

Naga Munchetty: Beatrice 

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Beatrice – of Much Ado About Nothing fame – is witty, lively and doesn’t take life too seriously. Given the glittery overhaul Naga’s about to get, being able to laugh at oneself is a must – and injecting fun into a dance floor routine is often a route to the judges’ hearts. Looks like this code name could bode very well for Naga.

Daisy Lowe: Rosalind

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Left image via Wikicommons source: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/9eiqb0

We’ve had the hero of As You Like It (Danny Mac as Orlando) and now we’ve got the heroine in the form of Daisy Lowe as Rosalind. Admired for her intelligence, quick wit, and beauty Rosalind is a pretty good nickname to be given. In fact, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, Rosalind “dominates the stage”, which is handy for anyone heading into Strictly Come Dancing, right?

Danny Mac: Orlando

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Former Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac earned the moniker of Orlando, the male lead in Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. “Chivalrous”, “tender” “modest”, “smart”, “strong”, “handsome”… they’re not bad traits to be linked to ahead of a spin in the ballroom, are they? He’s also willing to attain knowledge, which will be music to the ears of Mac’s pro if his code name is telling of his own nature. 

Louise Redknapp: Portia

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Redknapp has been going by the name of The Merchant of Venice’s heroine, Portia. Beautiful, gracious, rich, intelligent, and quick-witted are just some of the words used to describe Shakepeare’s character who finds herself the object of many suitors’ attention. But a clause in her father’s will means only he who chooses the right casket will get to take her hand in marriage. Hopefully the process of pairing up with her professional partner isn’t quite so lengthy… 

Melvin Odoom: Puck

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They’ve really nailed this codename with the cheeky Kiss FM and former Xtra Factor presenter earning his moniker from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A clever, mischievous jester, Puck is all about entertaining: and that’s exactly what Odoom will do on the dance floor. Bring it on. 

ODE ODUBA: ROMEO

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Strictly has its Romeo! Yes, in the lead up to his unveiling, Oduba has been going by the name of Shakespeare’s romantic hero. That’s got to be the best of the bunch, hasn’t it? He’s all suave and smooth after all. No pressure, but we’re now all thinking you’ll be pretty blooming good in the ballroom.

LAURA WHITMORE: LADY MACBETH

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Apparently Whitmore had some say in her Shakespeare codename, choosing Lady Macbeth because she once played her at uni. 

“I asked for Lady Macbeth… I didn’t really think about it because when there’s a car outside your house and it’s for Lady Macbeth…!” she laughed, talking to Nick Grimshaw on his Radio 1 Breakfast Show. 

WILL YOUNG: ARIEL

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Will Young’s bagged an interesting one, with his code name being taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: Ariel.

In the play magician Prospero rescues spirit Ariel from a tree that he’d been imprisoned in by Sycorax the witch. Ariel is often used as a spy in the play. Perhaps Young can take note and keep an eye on his competitors. No one wants to be out-done on the dance floor now, do they?

ED BALLS: CICERO

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It’s a strong start for the debut contestant, earning the code name Cicero. Yes, Balls was given the name of the Roman politician in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.

It’s a fitting one for ex-MP Balls, of course. As well as politics, Cicero boasted skills as a philosopher, lawyer, orator, political theorist… we don’t know about dancing, so he might not be able to take much comfort from the moniker (he’s admitted he’s “scared to death” about taking part). But hey, at least he didn’t get called Bottom.

More as they’re announced…

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Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 later this year