If MI5 are hiring, they may want to look to the guys working over at Strictly Come Dancing HQ who are doing a very good job of keeping this year’s celebrities a secret, as we’re drip-fed this year’s competitors.
Yep, those guys guarding our country’s most precious secrets might be interested to know that a cardboard box with a question mark drawn on it is actually a very good way to hide someone’s identity – as are Disney code names…
Cab drivers, doctors and fake tan salons around London are bound to have been scratching their heads as Cinderella, Prince Charming, Nemo and the like booked in for appointments or quick trips.
But who has been given which code name? As each new dancer is unveiled, we find out the character name they’ve had to adopt over the past few months…
Jeremy Vine = Nemo
All that time we were trying to find out who the first Strictly celebrity would be, we should have realised it was exactly like trying to find Nemo (apart from the whole swimming-to-Australia-dodging-sharks thing). Anyway, yes, Mr Vine has been Mr Nemo of late, admitting he’d even had to use the code name to get to see his doctor for a pre-show medical. “That’s how secretive they are about it,” Vine told Radio 2’s Chris Evans after he was unveiled as the first contestant on Monday.
Ainsley Harriott = Aladdin
Alad… din-dins…? Because he’s a chef? No? Ok, I might be thinking about this too much now. The names were probably pulled out of a hat. But this year’s second Strictly celebrity to be revealed was former Ready Steady Cook host Ainsley Harriott, who has been going by the name of the wannabe prince. Here’s hoping Harriott got the three wishes, too. One of them has to be to get his hands on that Glitterball Trophy, right?
Kellie Bright = Jasmine
Bright was the third celebrity, and first female, contestant to be added to this year’s line-up. The Queen of the Vic needed to be matched with a formidable Disney Princess and Aladdin’s strong-willed Jasmine certainly fits the bill. Presumably the similarities will end there, though – otherwise she’d find herself partnering up with Ainsley “Aladdin” Harriott…
Georgia May Foote = Rapunzel
Not only was former Coronation Street actress Georgia May Foote excited to be unveiled as this year’s fourth Strictly competitor (she’s already finding sequins everywhere) she was also pretty chuffed to have to go by the name of Tangled’s Rapunzel. “[It’s] my favourite film ever!” she told BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt and Sally Nugent.
Katie Derham = Belle
Lucky broadcaster Katie Derham gets to be the Belle of the ball as its revealed she’s been going by the name of the Beauty and the Beast character. Derham will be hoping for no beastly challenges, as she says her daughters are “very excited” she’s taking part in the show. Of her dancing skills, Derham said: “Two glasses of Prosecco and I’m truly fabulous. Or so I think.” We’ll get Mrs Potts straight onto it…
Carol Kirkwood = Maleficent
BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood is the first to take the Disney code names down a villainous route: hers that of Sleeping Beauty’s evil fairy Maleficent. We were expecting a much more joyful Snow White, a delightful Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty herself, even. It’s lovely Carol after all. But according to show insiders, it was an extra defence: no one would think of beloved Carol if they accidentally heard the villainous name. Her unveiling came, fittingly, during BBC Breakfast with the help of young dancers and some umbrellas of course.
Peter Andre = Simba
Will Peter Andre be the (Lion) King of the dance floor? Strictly bosses definitely seem to have high hopes for the Mysterious Girl singer, who dubbed him Simba in the run up to his unveiling. As long as he doesn’t have to eat bugs as part of his training, eh? I’m A Celebrity was surely enough. Of course, if training gets tough and Andre feels the pressure, he can just bust out a bit of Hakuna Matata and everything will be just fine. Andre’s unveiling was the first to take place on the show’s Twitter page, stating that his part in the show is not so mysterious now…
Daniel O’Donnell = Tarzan
Singer and entertainer Daniel O’Donnell has been going by the name of Tarzan. Why, we hear you cry? Because he’s the King of Swing of course. The popular Irish crooner was announced on Steve Wright’s BBC2 Radio show and joked: “I can dance, but don’t ask me to be in a certain place at a certain time. This is going to be very, very challenging for me. God help whoever gets me!”
Anthony Ogogo = Sinbad
Right, we have a little issue with the code name pickers over at Strictly because Sinbad is a DreamWorks animation, which is ruining the flow of this article, but we’ll go with it… yes, Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo has been known as Sinbad ahead of his unveiling. Burly, adventurous… we’re trying to see the connection, although we figured an Olympic sailor was on the way. Maybe there’s something we don’t know?
Jay McGuiness = Buzz Lightyear
To Strictly and beyond! Yes, Jay McGuiness has been Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear up until his part in the show was public knowledge. He’ll of course be hoping to dance, rather than fall, with style. Although, he could actually learn something from his cartoon code name, who is a dab hand at dancing when in ‘Spanish mode’…
Anita Rani = Ariel
Strictly Come Dancing is a whole new world for presenter Anita Rani, so The Little Mermaid’s Ariel is a fitting code name. Rani herself is hoping to channel a little Beyonce when she takes to the dance floor this year, though: “So many elements of Strictly terrify me but I shall try and think #BeyonceAlwaysOnBeat as I hit the dance floor. I’m so excited to indulge that fantasy and hopefully learn some mean moves in the process. Let’s get our groove on!”
Jamelia = Elsa
Jamelia’s daughters might have giggled when she told them she was doing Strictly, but we bet they were pretty chuffed their mum was given a name from super-hit Frozen as a codename. The 34-year-old star, who has four MOBO wins and nine Bafta nominations under her belt, certainly shares impressive vocal chords with this Disney leading lady, but her appearances on Loose Women and The Voice of Ireland prove she’s far from an ice queen…
Helen George = Tinkerbell
Call The Midwife’s Helen George knows how to rock a pixie crop so it’s not wonder Strictly opted for Tink when coming up with her codename. The actress will be surrounded by sparkles on the dance floor, and has that magical fairy glint in her eye, so we’re sure that with faith, trust and a sprinkle of pixie dust she’ll don the dresses and heels and fly.
Kirsty Gallacher = Cinderella
Is Kirsty going to the ball or winning the glitterball… well, that remains to be seen. Yes, Kirsty has been Cinderella up until her final reveal. Just like Cinderella, she’ll be off to wardrobe for a makeover. Hopefully with fake tan and sparkles rather than mice and pumpkins involved…
Iwan Thomas = Merlin
Iwan has been known as Merlin of late. A powerful wizard is a pretty good code name, right? Whether Iwan can shape shift, travel through time or indeed grow a beard like the cartoon character remains to be seen. Although it would be quite the tripping hazard on the dance floor, eh?
Strictly Come Dancing returns this autumn on BBC1
Robin Windsor, Alex Jones and Sir Bruce Forsyth will be at the Radio Times Festival this September.