Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Everything you need to know

Naomi Gordon
·8-min read
Photo credit: David Oldham - BBC
Photo credit: David Oldham - BBC

From Good Housekeeping

It feels like only yesterday that Strictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse and the ballroom dancing revelation that was Bill Bailey lifted the Glitterball Trophy to glory, as the show managed to safely navigate filming with Covid restrictions, and salvage the last part of 2020 for us all.

The series will be returning later this year with presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, and the BBC recently confirmed the 2021 professional dancers line-up - with our faves such as Oti, Gorka Marquez, Johannes Radebe, Nancy Xu and Giovanni Pernice returning to the dance-floor.

While Anton Du Beke did a fabulous job on the judging panel when he briefly stood in for Motsi Mabuse last year, he will be returning to the show as a dancer once more too.

We expect the show's judges, Motsi, Craig Revel-Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli, to also be back on the panel with their golden scoreboards, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Photo credit: Guy Levy - BBC
Photo credit: Guy Levy - BBC

That leaves us pondering over which celebrities will be taking part his year. Though the casting for the show isn't due to begin for a couple of months, we take a look at the stars who are already being linked to the 2021 show. We also reveal the full list of dancers, and estimate when the show will be returning to our TV screens.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The professional dancers

The BBC recently confirmed that Oti Mabuse would be returning as a dancer - following the news that she is joining the judging panel of ITV's Masking Singer spin-off,The Masked Dancer. Oti has won the series twice in a row - last year with Bailey, and the year before with Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher, so the pressure is on.

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Our returning favourites also include Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Janette Manrara, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu, and Neil Jones.

"We are so thrilled to be welcoming back our incredible line-up of professional dancers for 2021," says Sarah James, Executive Producer, BBC Studios. "Their passion and dedication for Strictly shone through more than ever last year as they all sacrificed so much to deliver an unforgettable series during unprecedented and challenging times.

"With so much talent returning to the ballroom, the 2021 series promises more show-stopping choreography, memorable performances and world class dancing."

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The celebrities

While the Strictly 2021 line-up has yet to be confirmed, the rumour mill is already underway, so we take a look at the celebrities who might make an appearance on the dance floor this year...

Ben Shephard

Photo credit: Eamonn M. McCormack - Getty Images
Photo credit: Eamonn M. McCormack - Getty Images

Good Morning Britain presenter Ben Shephard is often rumoured for Strictly, and after admitting that he previously took a degree in ballet and dance at university, fans are desperate for him to sign up. Meanwhile, Shephard has said he'd like to part on the show before, and perhaps last year's Strictly star Ranvir Singh - who impressed viewers and the judges with her natural ballroom ability - might encourage him to take part this year.

Ben Fogle

Photo credit: Darren Gerrish - Getty Images
Photo credit: Darren Gerrish - Getty Images

TV presenter Ben Fogle recently admitted that he was "very close" to joining the series last year - until his children told him that it would be the most embarrassing thing ever if he took part.

"My two, Ludo and Iona, have been pretty supportive but they will tell me if I’ve done something they don’t like or if they’re embarrassed by something, for sure," Ben told Metro.

"I was very close to doing Strictly last year [Iona screams in the background ‘No!’] — there you go, you can hear them now! — but they were absolutely adamant it would be the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to them in their lives. So it didn’t happen because they are my harshest critics and I couldn’t bear the shame of it all."

Might the experience of Covid one year on have changed his perspective and make him want to seize such opportunity?

Angellica Bell

Photo credit: BBC One
Photo credit: BBC One

TV star Angellica Bell denied rumours that she was going to take part on Strictly despite former Strictly star Chris Ramsey being adamant she was joining the series on The One Show last. Bell did say she'd love to be partnered up with Johannes Radebe because she wants to "learn how to dance in heels". Johannes will be back as a pro dancer, so who knows, it could be Bell's year.

Ralf Little

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Ralf Little recently returned to our TV screens in BBC One's hit crime drama Death in Paradise, and he has prompted rumours he could take part in Strictly after complimenting the show and those who take part in it.

"Never say never!" he told Hello!. "I think it is very easy to be dismissive of these things. I think people who participate and do well in Strictly are learning a real skill, an art form, and there’s something really rewarding about that."

Maya Jama

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Radio and TV presenter Maya Jama has been linked to the show for a few years now, as her fans would obviously love her to take part. When asked whether she would consider taking part, Jama didn't rule it out.

"I don't know, I always say I don’t know," she told Radio Times. "I'd never say never to all of these things."

Definitely sounds like a maybe to us!

Rio Ferdinand

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Former footballer, pundit and TV personality Rio Ferdinand has been linked to Strictly Come Dancing - and the star has a close relationship with the BBC, having starred in a number of TV documentaries about mental health and starting a new family with partner Kate Wright. Gabby Logan, who previously took part on the show, recently revealed that Ferdinand is constantly contacted by Strictly bosses to take part.

"I was trying to persuade Rio Ferdinand. You need to get your producers onto him. I almost had him," she told guest Tess Daly on her podcast MidPoint. "He said, 'Did you really enjoy it?' I said, "How often do they ask you?" He said, ‘Every year’. He'd be incredible, and he's a dancer!"

Ferdinand attended ballet school as a child.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The judges

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

The BBC has yet to confirm whether judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel-Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Bruno Tonioli will be back - but we're presuming they will be.

Last year, we saw Tonioli featuring on Results show each week remotely, from across the pond, after Covid restrictions meant he had to stay in the US, where he is a judge on Dancing with the Stars. We don't know yet whether this will be the same again this year, though he may be able to travel back and forth for work, so we'll keep you updated.

Craig shed some light on the matter on GMB." We’re hoping Bruno comes back," he explained in an interview on Good Morning Britain in March. "We really do want him there in the seat - whether he stays in the seat or not, as he’s generally up and down like a yo-yo! Of course we want him back. If he can’t come back then he’ll do what he did last time."

Craig also commented on the news Motsi had signed up for another project at the same time as Strictly: "I think she’d be absolutely mad doing the German tour rather than Strictly... I take the Saturdays off in order to do panto during the week. As long as you can get there and [it's] safe to travel then she’d be absolutely fine to do both, I would say.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: When will it be back?

Last year's series launched a little later than previous series due to Covid. Usually, we see the show launch on the bank holiday weekend of August before arriving in September, but in 2020 the show didn't launch until 17 October, with the live shows staring on 24 October.

We don't know whether there will be delays again - and although we're on the roadmap out of lockdown, and all restrictions should be lifted by 21 June, there's still some uncertainty, so watch this space.

However, according to judge Craig, Strictly will be back with all the bells and whistles this year - and for a full run. "I’m really looking forward to it," he told GMB in March. "I think the BBC did an amazing job and have protocols in place for absolutely every single situation, so you will get Strictly and a much fuller version this year."

Who won Strictly Come Dancing 2020?

Oti Mabuse won it again for the second consecutive year with comedian Bill Bailey. The final featured Bailey, EastEnders star Maisie Smith, Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing and singer HRVY battling it out.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC One.

Good Housekeeping UK approached the BBC but they declined to comment.

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