Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line-up: confirmed contestants
We're down to just five quarter-finalists!
The final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is coming tomorrow and the celebs are preparing to go all out and do everything they can to lift that Glitterball trophy.
The Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard has seen many changes over the last few weeks, but who will be sitting pretty at the top of it when all is said and done this weekend?
The Strictly Come Dancing professionals will do all they can to guide their partners through to victory, but who will be going home trophyless and who will claim it? It's still anybody's contest!
Who is taking part in Strictly this year? Which pro has each of the celebs been paired up with? And who has already left the series?
Read on for everything you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line-up!
Confirmed Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line-up
Paired with: Giovanni Pernice
EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis was the 12th celebrity to join the 2021 Strictly line-up – becoming the first-ever deaf contestant on the series.
"To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary,” she said in a statement. "It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open! I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers."
Rose began playing Frankie Lewis on EastEnders in May last year and has already made a big impression in the soap, while previous acting credits include roles on Casualty and in the BBC Two miniseries Summer of Rockets.
Paired with: Johannes Radebe
John Whaite has swapped the kitchen for the dance floor. Whaite won the third series of The Great British Bake Off back in 2012, but will his dancing skills be as good as his baking skills?
Speaking of his new signing, Whaite said: "I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family. I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth."
He added: "What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion. Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”
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Whaite will make Strictly history as the first male signing for a same-sex pairing.
AJ Odudu - Departed on Friday 17th December
Job: TV presenter
Paired with: Kai Widdrington
TV presenter AJ Odudu was announced as part of the Strictly 2021 line-up on Wednesday, 4th August.
“I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I'm so glad I can finally tell my mum," she said. "Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon! I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!”
AJ is best known as a TV presenter, having presented a number of shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow, which is currently airing on ITV.
Rhys Stephenson - Eliminated in Week Twelve
Job: Actor and children's TV presenter
Paired with: Nancy Xu
CBBC star Rhys Stephenson was revealed to be the fifth star in the line-up.
“I am BUZZING to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation. I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am READY!" he said of his latest venture.
Dan Walker - Eliminated in Week Eleven
Paired with: Nadiya Bychkova
BBC Breakfast Presenter Dan Walker was the eighth celebrity to be confirmed for the 19th series.
“I am definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding!" he said.
“My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows… Saturday Mash Up and Strictly. I did Saturday Mash Up this summer so… it’s time to embrace the sequins.”
Ugo Monye - Eliminated in Week Five
Job: Former rugby player and broadcaster
Paired with: Oti Mabuse
Ugo Monye was the 15th and final Strictly contestant to be revealed, with Ugo announcing the exciting news on The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan.
In a statement, Ugo said taking part in the show was "a dream come true" and that he couldn't wait to show everyone he has "more than just dad dancing moves".
"My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me. I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins!"
Ugo was a rugby player for Harlequins, with an impressive career spanning from 2002 until 2015. Since his retirement from the sport, he's become a respected face in the realm of sports presenting, hosting rugby coverage for BT Sport and ITV and becoming a new team captain on A Question of Sport.
Ugo did not dance in Week Four due to a back injury. The athlete revealed the news on Twitter, writing: "Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to dance this weekend on the show. I have a history of back problems which has always been managed under the guidance of medical professionals. Unfortunately this has been causing me some unwanted problems this week!"
Judi Love - Eliminated in Week Six
Job: Comedian and TV presenter
Paired with: Graziano Di Prima
Comedian and TV presenter Judi Love was the penultimate name to be announced – with the star revealing the news on Loose Women.
In a statement, she said: “I think I am still in shock that I will be part of this amazing show. I’ve watched it for many years and admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft."
Judi is no stranger to competition shows, having previously been a finalist on Celebrity Masterchef. Her other TV appearances include The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown, Celebrity Juice, This Morning, and This Is My House.
She became a regular panelist on Loose Women last year and has also regularly performed stand-up on stage.
Adam Peaty - Eliminated in Week Seven
Job: Olympic swimmer
Paired with: Katya Jones
Swimmer Adam Peaty was the 13th name to be confirmed for the Strictly line-up this year, hoping to add to what has already been a very memorable 2021.
Adam became the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title after winning gold in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke in Tokyo, while he also collected another Gold in the 4x100 medley relay.
And now he has his sights set on adding the Glitterball trophy to his medal haul, explaining, "I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.
"I’m hoping my competitive nature is going to compensate for my dancing abilities!”
Nina Wadia - Eliminated in Week One
Job: Actress and comedienne
Paired with: Neil Jones
Actress Nina Wadia was announced as the 11th celebrity in the 2021 Strictly line-up while appearing on ITV's Lorraine. Unfortunately she became the first contestant voted out of this year's series.
“I just want to grab life by the balls and enjoy it!” Wadia said of her decision to sign up for the dancing competition.
While talking to Christine Lampard on Lorraine, Wadia said she was "scared", jokingly saying: “I like dancing like no one’s watching. So we just need to blindfold the judges and I’ll win!”
Wadia is perhaps best known for playing strong-willed matriarch Zainab Masood on Eastenders between 2007 and 2013, but has also had notable regular roles on BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and sitcom spin-off Still Open All Hours.
Greg Wise - Eliminated in Week Four
Paired with: Karen Hauer
Actor Greg Wise has joined the Strictly line-up for 2021.
Wise has appeared in several British television programmes and feature films. He played the role of John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, which starred Emma Thompson, whom he later married. He also played Lord Louis Mountbatten in The Crown.
Wise decided to sign up for the show in memory of his late sister Clare.
“My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her. My gorgeous Diva sis, who would have been insane with excitement that her little bro was doing this," he said. "I will channel her, as her bro can’t dance – but I’m thrilled to be dipping my toes, knees, hips and arms into this wonderful world, and hope to make her proud, and obviously make her laugh...”
Tilly Ramsay - Eliminated in Week 10
Job: Chef and social media star
Paired with: Nikita Kuzmin
Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly Ramsay was the ninth celeb to be confirmed for this year's Strictly on ITV's This Morning. As the news was revealed her parents appeared on screen to wish her well, with her mother Tana Ramsay grateful it wasn't Gordon taking part in the BBC dance show.
“I’m so excited and grateful to be joining the Strictly family! I’m always up for fun new challenges and this will be my biggest adventure yet! I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on and show my Dad how it’s really done! Bring on the glitz, glamour and sequins!” Tilly said.
Gordon Ramsay's daughter, cooking star Tilly Ramsay was rumoured to have been signed up for the 2020 series, but could no longer take part after breaking her arm. A source told The Sun that Strictly bosses were keen to get Tilly for the series in a bid to attract a younger audience.
The presenter, chef and social media influencer is best known for hosting CBBC's cooking show Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, and previously made an appearance on MasterChef Junior.
Katie McGlynn - Eliminated in Week Three
Paired with: Gorka Marquez
Corrie actress Katie McGlynn was the seventh contestant to join the 2021 line-up, and the second to be eliminated.
Speaking of her latest signing, she said: “It’s been so hard keeping it a secret, but I can finally say that I’m getting ready to shake my shimmy and become part of the Strictly family! I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way."
Sara Davies - Eliminated in Week Eight
Job: Business entrepreneur and TV personality
Paired with: Aljaž Škorjanec
Dragons' Den star, Sara Davies, was announced as the sixth contestant.
"My Mam and Dad are going to be so excited. I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance, Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little. The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dance floor. And I’m excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum tum!" she said.
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Robert Webb - Withdrew
Paired with: Dianne Buswell
Actor, comedian and author Robert Webb, who many will recognise from Channel 4's Peep Show, was the second celebrity to be announced.
“I am ludicrously excited to be taking part in Strictly this year. It’s a big, generous, joyful show and I can’t wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman," he said of joining Strictly.
"At least I think that’s what happens. My goal is to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders. I know it’s going to be a challenge. To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing.”
Unfortunately, Webb pulled out of the series ahead of Week Four due to "ill health."
Sharing a statement, the BBC wrote: "Robert Webb and Dianne Buswell are to leave Strictly Come Dancing. “Robert has made the decision to withdraw from the competition due to ill health.”
Webb penned a longer explanation, published on the official Strictly website, which read: “I’m extremely sorry to have to announce that I’m withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health. Two years ago I had open heart surgery and although I believed I was fit enough to take on Strictly and its demanding schedule, it became clear that I had bitten off way more than I could chew for this stage in my recovery. I had begun to feel symptoms that led me to seek an urgent consultation with my heart specialist, and it was her view that it would be better for the sake of my health to step back from the show."
Tom Fletcher - Eliminated in Week Nine
Job: Musician and author
Paired with: Amy Dowden
McFly's Tom Fletcher was the first celebrity to be announced for this year's line-up on an episode of The One Show.
Speaking of his new signing, he said: “I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in while I’m writing this! I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified! My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen. I’m not sure how far they’ll get me in the competition but I can’t wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire.”
Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One this weekend. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for all the latest news.