The Strictly Come Dancing professionals for 2020 have been revealed – and there are many popular returnees.
Despite the shock exit of fan-favourite Kevin Clifton, Strictly stalwarts Anton Du Beke and AJ Pritchard, married duo Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara and current champion Oti Mabuse are all waltzing back to the dancefloor.
In a year with no new names but plenty of old faces, get reacquainted with confirmed Strictly Come Dancing professional line-up for 2020.
South African Latin American Champion Oti Mabuse has been a Strictly professional since 2015, and won the 2019 series after several memorable hip-shaking performances with Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher. She’s also a captain on The Greatest Dancer, mentoring ballroom and Latin dancers Michael and Jowita to victory in 2020.
Strictly is slowly becoming a family affair for the reigning champion – her sister Motsi Mabuse is on the judging panel, and her husband Marius Lepure is reportedly joining the show as a troupe dancer.
European Youth Latin Champion AJ Pritchard is returning to Strictly Come Dancing for his fifth series, and while he has never won he has made the semi-final three times. He most recently came sixth with Youtube vlogger Saffron Barker.
Pritchard often does other television work with his brother – fellow dancer and Love Island star Curtis Pritchard – such as being guest choreographers on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
Ballroom and Latin star Aljaž Škorjanec has won over 19 championships in his native Slovenia, and has been part of the Strictly family since 2013 when he won with model Abbey Clancy. He has also partnered with Alison Hammond, Helen George, Gemma Atkinson and most recently Viscountess Emma Weymouth, and returns in 2020 with his wife Janette Manrara.
British national champion Amy Dowden grew up watching Strictly from her native Wales, finally achieving her dream of joining the show in 2017. Dowden was paired with Danny John-Jules in 2018, when the Red Dwarf actor was accused by the tabloids of “bullying” her – allegations he strenuously denied. Dowden encountered less controversy in 2019 when she reached the final with CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual.
Anton Du Beke
Veteran Strictly pro has appeared in every single series since the show started in 2004, and has no plans to leave just yet as he returns for the eighteenth(!) time. Despite many attempts Anton only reached the final for the first time in 2019 with Emma Barton – perhaps 2020 will bring his long-awaited victory?
Australian Open Champion Dianne Buswell honed her skills on Strictly Come Dancing down under before joining the British edition in 2017. She was eliminated third with radio DJ Dev Griffin in 2019, but had better luck the year before when she reached the final with vlogger Joe Sugg.
Dianne and Joe been dating ever since and even launched their joint YouTube channel, In The Pan.
Italian stallion Giovanni Pernice won the Italian Championships in 2012, before joining the Strictly professional line-up in 2015. He’s reached the final an impressive three times – with Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee and Faye Tozer – and most recently reached Blackpool with Michelle Visage.
Oh, and he’s also the Guinness World Record holder for Jive kicks and flicks, as well as Charleston swivels – the more you know.
After sitting out last year, Spanish dancing sensation Gorka Marquez is back this year for another shot at the Glitterball trophy after coming runner up with Alexandra Burke in 2017. While he didn’t win the competition he did win the heart of contestant Gemma Atkinson – the two welcomed baby Mia in July 2019 and danced together in the 2019 Christmas Special.
Graziano Di Prima
Sicilian-born Graziano Di Prima is also returning after a year off, taking a break after partnering with radio presenter Vick Hope in 2018. Di Prima made the top 24 at the Under 21 Latin World Championships, and also toured the world with his dance company Burn The Floor.
Miami-born Janette Manrara is no stranger to celebrities – she performed with Jennifer Lopez at the 82nd Academy Awards, and was also a principal dancer on popular TV series Glee. Manrara’s partners have included Jake Wood, Peter Andre, Dr Ranj and most recently Paralympian Will Bayley – but it’s the Christmas specials whee she has had the most success, winning twice with Aston Merrygold and Melvin Odoom.
Two-time Professional South African Latin Champion Johannes Radebe reached the final of Strictly South Africa twice, and joined the British edition in 2018. He was given his first celebrity partner Catherine Tyldesley in 2019, but was eliminated in week six.
The longest-serving female professional on Strictly, Professional World Mambo Champion Karen Hauer has had memorable partnerships with celebrities such as Jeremy Vine, Mark Wright and Charles Venn. She came tantalisingly close to the Glitterball Trophy when she reached the semi-final with comedian Chris Ramsey in 2019 – perhaps she’ll go all the way this year?
World Professional Latin Showdance Champion Katya Jones has had many a memorable moment on Strictly, from dancing to Gangnam Style with Ed Balls to winning with Joe McFadden in 2017. The then-married Katya caused controversy when she was photographed kissing partner Sean Walsh in 2018, though had a quieter 2019 with BBC Breakfast’s Mike Bushell.
Four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship, Luba Mushtuk was an assistant choreographer on the show for several years before finally given celebrity partner James Cracknell in 2019. Unfortunately, they were voted first – hopefully the Russian champ will get more of a chance this time around.
A two-time World Champion and European Champion in Ballroom and Latin ‘10’ Dance, Ukrainian-born Nadiya Bychkova is back for her fourth year on the show. She has partnered Davood Ghadami, Lee Ryan and most recently David James, with whom she was eliminated fifth.
A new addition in 2019, Nancy Xu performed in the group numbers and partnered Eastenders actor Rudolph Walker in the Children in Need Special. Xu was a finalist in So You Think You Can Dance in her home country of China, and was a finalist in the U21 World Championships in 2010.
World Professional Latin Showdance Champion Neil Jones has won 45 titles around the world during his competitive career, though is yet to claim that of Strictly Come Dancing champion. Neil got a celebrity partner in 2019 after acting as a stand-in for several years – he reached fifth place with professional footballer Alex Scott.
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One later this year.