Former Emmerdale and Hollyoaks actress Gemma Atkinson has become the fourth celebrity confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2017.
The announcement was made on BBC Breakfast by hosts Charlie Stayt and former Strictly contestant Naga Munchetty.
Plus RadioTimes.com can reveal that Gemma’s code name behind the scenes was Athena – the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, strategic warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Phew!
When she was asked by the presenters why she wanted to join the competition, Atkinson said she just wanted to learn how to dance: “It’s so out of my comfort zone. Even wearing heels for me is a big one. I just want to challenge myself and do something I’ve not done before.”
And apart from some small experience as a child, Strictly will be the first time the star has trained for the dancefloor. “I did disco dancing from aged 9 to 10 but it was kind of like cartwheels across the floor,” Atkinson said. “As far as any dance training goes, I haven’t had any. After a few drinks I kind of think I’m Britney Spears but I’m absolutely not.”
On keeping her Strictly news secret, Atkinson said: “I felt so snide lying to all my family. My mum’s known. It’s things like my aunty and uncle who’ve emailed me saying ‘we’ve had a Google alert that you’re doing Strictly this year?’ and I feel so bad.”
But now all is out in the open, can Atkinson say who she thinks would be her ideal partner? “I’m 5ft 9, I’m big for a girl, so as long as it’s someone tall and strong. It’s my only fear – being dropped.”
Despite that fear, it looks though Atkinson is determined to take the glitterball trophy and will be training each day after finishing her job hosting Key 103’s breakfast show.
“Now it’s becoming real,” she added. “I’ve just been told it’s knackering and the hours are long but since I was 15 I’ve worked.”
Atkinson is the latest name to be announced after EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami, The Saturdays singer Mollie King and This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford were unveiled for Strictly’s 15th series.
So, who’ll be joining this rhinestoned-quartet? Rumours for which celebrities are taking part in series 15 are rife, with names including Alexandra Burke, Matt Goss, Samantha Womack, Anne Robinson and Olly Murs currently being reported for the show this year.
We do, however, know who’ll be hosting: presenting duo Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will return alongside judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel-Horwood and Bruno Tonioli. Of course, there’ll be no Len Goodman this year, with the retiring judge being replaced by Shirley Ballas.
Ballas won’t be the only new face on the show – Nadiya Bychkova, Dianne Buswell and Amy Dowden are joining the line-up of professional dancers after Joanne Clifton and Oksana Platero left the series.
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC1 this autumn