Graziano is an Italian Latin Champion and has represented Belgium at the World Championships. Aged 24, he’s also toured the world with dance company Burn the Floor. “This is my dream come true!” he says. “I still can’t believe I will be one of the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing. I can’t wait to give all of myself on the dance floor!”
31-year-old Johannes is from South Africa and a Latin American champion. He’s already been a pro dancer on Strictly Come Dancing South Africa for two seasons, reaching the final both times.
“Joining Strictly Come Dancing is one of the greatest achievements of my dancing career,” he says. “It is such an honour to be chosen to be a part of an incredible cast and be part of one of the biggest shows that is celebrated worldwide. I cannot wait to get started and experience the magic with the UK!”
Luba is a four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship. Aged 28, she has also worked on Burn the Floor and appeared as part of the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour. She’s no stranger to the Strictly pros, taking part in both Giovanni Pernice’s and Karen and Kevin Clifton’s tours, as well as assisting with choreography on some of the 2016 group routines.
Talking to RadioTimes.com shortly before he was confirmed, he said: “It’s such a great show and we have a great time every year. So hopefully when we get that call, they’ll still want us around.” Well, they clearly did!
Also returning is Karen Clifton. When RadioTimes.com caught up with her recently, she said she had her “fingers crossed” about coming back to the show this year – but she needn’t have worried.
Back in January, she told us: “I love coming back every year so hopefully they do ask me back. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll be there. We’re only contracted for a year so we wait around and clear out our schedules, but Strictly is the most important thing for us,” she explained.
“Nothing else matters. Strictly matters for us and that’s our priority. We love the show because it’s a family show, it’s a great entertainment show and everybody absolutely adores it. So why wouldn’t you want to wait around for it?”
Strictly Come Dancing without Anton Du Beke would be hard to imagine. Thankfully the veteran professional will again be returning to the ballroom this year, as he has done every single series since the show began in 2004.
Janette Manrara will be back on Strictly this year. The 34-year-old has been part of the professional line-up for the past five years since joining the show for its 11th series back in 2013. This year will be her sixth on Strictly.
This will be Oti Mabuse’s fourth year on Strictly Come Dancing. Last series she was partnered with Jonny Peacock and placed eighth, although the year before she was a runner-up with Danny Mac. Will this be the year she finally wins?
Nadiya was another professional dancer who was new to Strictly last year. She made it to week 11 with celebrity partner, EastEnders star Davood Ghadami. She’s returning to the ballroom this year for series 16 of the BBC1 show.
Amy Dowden was partnered with Brian Conley for her Strictly debut last year, and the pair only managed to make it to week four. She fared better in the Children in Need special when she was partnered with Mark Curry as the pair went on to win!
Aljaž Škorjanec is a Strictly favourite, having been a part of the professional line-up since series 11. He won in his debut year with Abbey Clancy and since then has gone on to partner celebs including Alison Hammond and Helen George. He was a runner-up on the show last year with actress Gemma Atkinson.
Giovanni Pernice wowed everyone in 2017 when he was partnered with Debbie McGee, and despite only being on the show for three series he’s managed to come second twice, with Debbie and also Georgia May Foote.
Although Gorka Marquez didn’t waltz away with the Glitterball last year when he was partnered with Alexandra Burke, he did come away from Strictly 2017 with a girlfriend. The professional is now dating last year’s celeb Gemma Atkinson, and Gorka will be returning to the ballroom this year.
Pasha Kovalev is quickly becoming one of the Strictly Come Dancing veterans. The pro dancer has been on the show since 2011 and this year will be his eighth series back in the ballroom.
And which Strictly professionals will not return?
Strictly Come Dancing: Chloe Hewitt (Getty, FT)
Chloe joined the Strictly family in 2016 but in her time on the show was without a celebrity partner, instead appearing in group dances and demos along with fellow stand-by Neil Jones.
Brendan Cole Strictly Come Dancing (Getty, FT)
One of the original Strictly stars, Brendan revealed earlier this year that he’d been axed from the 2018 line-up, after BBC bosses decided not to renew his contract.
“The powers that be will have a vision of the show and I’m not part of the vision – you’ve got to accept what decisions are made,” he tearfully told ITV host Lorraine. “I would have preferred to make the decision myself but maybe I’d never have made it”.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 on Saturday 8 September
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