Strictly Come Dancing will return for its 18th series on Saturday October 24, preceded by a launch show on Saturday October 17. The long-running BBC One celebrity ballroom dancing contest has had to make some adjustments for Covid: there will be fewer episodes than usual, dancing pairs are bubbling-up with each other and one much loved judge will be absent from the panel. But it's still Strictly. Let's welcome to the floor this year's contestants.
The entrepreneur, podcast host and McVitie's heir made his name starring in the long-running scripted reality series Made In Chelsea, which follows the lives of London's young, posh and wealthy.
Laing was supposed to star in 2019's Strictly but had to pull out at the last minute due to a foot injury sustained during rehearsals. Now he's back and keener than ever: “Here we go again, hopefully this time I can last long enough so my mum can see me dance.”
Singer and YouTuber HRVY (real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell) has over a billion combined streams to his name. He was a host on CBBC show Friday Download from 2014-15. HRVY said: “Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year. I think my mum is more excited that she’ll be able to see me every Saturday night now.”
However, he recently revealed on Twitter that he is currently self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.
hi, wasn’t gonna worry anyone and say anything but now the story’s out, i have coronavirus, I’m all good, no symptoms, just isolating for the next 10 days. already super bored so prepare yourselves for my Tik toks
— hrvy (@HRVY) October 1, 2020
A BBC spokesperson said: “Pending a negative test, HRVY won't miss the launch recording or any dance training. We wish him all the best.”
Jacqui Smith served as Home Secretary in Gordon Brown's Labour government from 2007-2009 and resigned in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal. She joins a strong lineage of Strictly politicians, including Ed Balls and Anne Widdecombe. Smith was the Labour MP for Redditch from 1997 until 2010 and prior to becoming Home Secretary, she served as Chief Whip, Minister for schools and Minister for Industry.
The EastEnders actress, known for playing Tiffany Butcher on the BBC sitcom and young Elizabeth Tudor in The Other Boleyn Girl, has previously appeared on a Strictly special. She has hip hop experience from her time at stage school which should stand her in good stead under the glitterball.
Chalmers is a former royal marine who suffered life-changing injuries following an IED explosion in Afghanistan and went on to win medals for Britain in cycling and track at the Invictus Games in 2014. He went on to a career in broadcasting, presenting Paralympic coverage and Remembrance Day coverage for the BBC. He is now a regular BBC sports presenter, covering the Paralympics, the Invictus Games and the Commonwealth Games.
Bill Bailey is an award-winning comedian, musician and actor, best known for his live comedy and for the TV shows Black Books, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and QI. His acting credits include Hot Fuzz, Skins, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Chalet Girl, Doctor Who and he is currently starring in In the Long Run opposite Idris Elba.
He said: “In these are strange times we're living through, it feels right to do something different and take on a new challenge. So I am delighted to be a part of this year's unique Strictly Come Dancing. My late mum Madrin would have loved it – I hope she'll be watching.”
Double Olympic gold medallist boxer Nicola Adams joins the line-up as part of the first same sex pairing. In 2012, Nicola became the first female amateur boxer to win an Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and four years later, at Rio 2016, she claimed her double victory.
BBC Radio1 DJ Clara Amfo is best known for her 10am–1pm show. Her credits as a television presenter include One World: Together at Home (BBC One), ITV2’s coverage of The BRIT Awards and the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury Festival, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, and The Proms.
She is also the host of Sony Music and Spotify podcast This City, a part of the Bafta TV Awards presenting team and a recurrent presence on the judging panel for the Mercury Prize.
She said: “As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy, so to be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dance floor!”
Ranvir presents ITV's Good Morning Britain and works as a relief newsreader on ITV News and as an anchor for ITV’s Tonight. She has also hosted a range of primetime factual shows, including Real Stories with Ranvir Singh, The Martin Lewis Money Show and Eat, Shop, Save and has recently appeared as a panel member on Loose Women.
Her co-presenter on Good Morning Piers Morgan joked that the pressure was on, saying, “You’re representing the show, you fail, we all fail.”
Max is a singer-songwriter best known as one of the members of the popular boy band The Wanted, who were active from 2009 to 2014. With the band, he scored two UK number one hits with All Time Low and Glad You Came while the group also made the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart on a further eight occasions.
Max said: “Buzzing to be on Strictly this year. Not really one for the dance floor, but I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jay McGuiness set The Wanted’s bar so low…”
Jason Bell is a former NFL star, He began his American football career in 2001 with the Dallas Cowboys, before playing for the Houston Texans and the New York Giants. He retired in 2008 after undergoing career-ending surgery the year before and now acts as an NFL pundit for BBC Sport.
“Strictly was the first show I ever watched when I moved to the UK and I’m a massive fan,” he said. “My six-year-old daughter never got the chance to see me run out on the field at an NFL game, but she is very excited about me taking to the dance floor. I hope I can do her proud.”
Actress Caroline Quentin, this year's oldest contestant, came to fame on the cult favourite British sitcom Men Behaving Badly, starring opposite Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey. She went on to star in 1998’s Kiss Me Kate, which ran for three series, before moving into more dramatic roles with crime drama Blue Murder and ITV’s Life Begins. More recently, she competed in Channel 4’s Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer.
She said she was “thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part” in Strictly.