The first names announced for 2021’s series of Strictly Come Dancing have been revealed.
The celebrity contestants confirmed for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing so far include a pop star, a TV presenter and one half of double act Mitchell and Webb.
Author and musician Tom Fletcher will be taking to the dance floor in the upcoming BBC One series, and will be joined in the celebrity line-up by comedian and actor Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
News of the trio joining Strictly was announced during BBC’s The One Show on Wednesday (4 August) night.
Alongside those initial three names, it's also been revealed Bake Off winner John Whaite will be in the line-up, as part of the show’s first all-male pairing.
Here is everything you need to know about the contestants.
Who are the contestants?
Fletcher revealed his McFly bandmate Harry Judd – who won Strictly in 2011 with professional dancer Aliona Vilani – inspired him to join the show, but said he feels “naked” without a guitar.
The musician rose to fame as the lead singer of McFly alongside Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter and Judd. The band formed in 2003 and are known for songs including Obviously, All About You and Five Colours In Her Hair.
The 36-year-old is the main writer on many of the boy band’s hits and is also credited with penning songs for One Direction and Busted.
Fletcher is married to author and podcast host Giovanna Fletcher, who won last year’s series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and they have three sons named Buzz, Buddy and Max.
Peep Show star Webb said he is “ludicrously excited” to be taking part in Strictly.
He said: “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. At least I think that’s what happens.
The TV, film and theatre actor is best known as the unemployed musician Jez in Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, starring alongside David Mitchell. His other TV credits include That Mitchell and Webb Look and Channel 4 comedy-drama Back.
However, Webb does have previous form for winning a TV dancing show, after squeezing into a leotard, leg warmers and curly wig for Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, where he was voted series champion with his rendition of What A Feeling from the 1980s film Flashdance.
Webb said he expected to face more difficult challenges on Strictly; the TV Bafta winner underwent major heart surgery last year after discovering in 2019 that he was suffering from a heart murmur caused by a mitral valve prolapse.
Announced as the third contestant for Strictly, TV presenter Odudu said: “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."
Odudu began her career as a reporter for BBC Blast on Radio Lancashire and went on to co-host the spin-off Big Brother’s Bit On The Side with Emma Willis and Rylan Clark-Neal and produced the documentary Manhunting With My Mum in Nigeria.
She has presented TV shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow.
Odudu also took part in Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins in aid of charity Stand Up To Cancer in 2019 and is a contestant on ITV’s Cooking With The Stars.
She is also a qualified personal trainer and sports nutritionist and was appointed as a contributing editor to Grazia magazine in 2021.
Former Bake Off winner John Whaite has said being part of the first all-male pairing on Strictly Come Dancing is a “great step forward in representation and inclusion”.
The chef is the fourth contestant to be confirmed for the forthcoming BBC One show and follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year danced in a partnership with professional Katya Jones.
The cookbook author said he is “very, very nervous”, but said: “It’s an honour. When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought, you know, to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing, but also just to see two men or two women dancing together is not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect.”
Whaite won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on the Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.
When does Strictly 2021 begin?
The official broadcast date is yet to be announced for this year’s edition of Strictly Come Dancing.
It has been confirmed that this year’s series will be returning to its usual 13-week run, having been forced to present a truncated series last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The series normally kicks off in early September with a launch show – which sees the celebrities paired up with their pro dance partners – followed by the first live show about two or three weeks later.
So there may not be too long to wait until we’re back in the ballroom.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld