Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing: Who is in the 2019 line-up?

Strictly's class of 2019 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Strictly's class of 2019 - but Jamie Laing (centre) had to pull out after the red carpet launch

TV and radio presenters, soap stars, sportspeople, a YouTuber and a Viscountess - that's who is taking to the dancefloor for the 17th series of Strictly Come Dancing.

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Broadcaster Anneka Rice rose to fame on Channel 4's Bafta-nominated game show Treasure Hunt in the 1980s, before being given her own BBC One show, Challenge Anneka.

She joked: "I haven't danced since I was seven and Miss Beer sent me home from my ballet class because I was hopelessly uncoordinated. My family and friends haven't seen me dance since, not at a wedding or round a handbag so it's going to be a challenge for my partner.

"In fact I've asked for two, one on each side. I can't see myself in a long frilly dress either. But I'm feeling recklessly excited. Strictly has always been my autumn's entertainment and now I'm part of it! My children will probably leave the country."

More recently, the 60-year-old has appeared on Celebrity Mastermind and Come Dine With Me, as well as Celebrity Hunted.

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Olympic rower James Cracknell promised to bring some "dad dancing" to the show early on. Cracknell was made an OBE in 2005 after winning gold in the coxless fours at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

The 47-year-old oarsman, who rowed for Cambridge in this year's Boat Race, said: "It's going be really interesting having no confidence in it and then going 'OK, can you do it?'"

In the official Strictly press release, Cracknell joked he was looking forward to taking part "having spent so many years mucking around in a rowing boat with big men in tight lycra," and that "it's time I learned a new skill".

He added: "I need to apologise to my kids in advance for the embarrassment."

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BBC Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin - who presents the afternoon weekend show alongside Alice Levine - came second in a dance competition at a Pontins holiday park in 1996, when he danced to MC Hammer's Can't Touch This.

Griffin was a finalist on 2017's Celebrity MasterChef and has appeared on other celebrity programmes, such as Mastermind. He's vowed to improve on those results by winning Strictly.

He said: "I am really good at dancing. I never had any formal dance training, but I am pretty good, I have made myself good. All I want is to win. I don't believe in doing things for taking part, if you are going to do something, you do it to win."

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Former Arsenal and England footballer Alex Scott said she "felt like a kid at Christmas" after her participation was revealed.

Scott, who is now one of the country's leading football pundits, won the Strictly Comic Relief special in 2018. "This is a show that I've always wanted to be a part of," Scott admitted. "When I did [Comic Relief], I was like, 'I want to be part of the main one.'

The former Lioness out-danced fellow ex footballers Chris Kamara and David Ginola en route to winning the 2018 Comic Relief Strictly special, alongside dance partner Pasha Kovalev.

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Seduction singer Michelle Visage - best known for her role as a judge on the US reality TV show RuPaul's Drag race - is also among the contestants.

She took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, and was recently seen on the West End stage in Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

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Table tennis champion Will Bayley took gold for Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil.

"I'm so proud to be on the show, it's my family's favourite show," he said. "I have no dance experience at all, but I hope I can do well. I want to inspire people with a disability - that would mean a lot to me. I want to prove to people I can do this."

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Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth, is a chef, model and a contributing editor for British Vogue, and also runs Longleat safari park with her family.

The 33-year-old mother of two - who married Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, in 2013 - said she had never danced professionally but was sure it would be "such an amazing experience from start to finish".

CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual is a former child actor who starred in CBBC's The Sparticle Mystery. He said he was "pinching" himself after being offered the chance to take part.

He said: "I want the lot. The skimpiest of clothes, the widest of flares, the brightest of colours and the tallest Cuban heels a guy can find! The more flamboyant the better... sequins galore please!"

BBC sports news presenter Mike Bushell said being revealed as a Strictly contestant felt "like a weird dream" but he wanted to fly the flag for "all the dad dancers".

The 53-year-old added he "thought they'd got the wrong person" when he got the call from the producers, because people frequently confuse him with former BBC colleague and 2009 Strictly winner Chris Hollins.

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Former Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley, 35, played Rovers Return barmaid Eva Price on the ITV Soap from 2011-2018 and said she was "so excited" and equally "terrified" because she "literally can't dance".

She said: "I love to dance on a night out if I've had a couple of drinks and me and Alfie [her son] silly dance in the kitchen, but that's it, I'm terrified."

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Teenage social media star Saffron Barker - whose book Saffron Barker Vs Real Life topped the Sunday Times bestseller list - said she was "very grateful for the opportunity".

She added that she was inspired by the success of another of last year's finalists, fellow YouTuber Joe Sugg. "I'm excited to follow in his footsteps," she declared. "He did absolutely amazing... I've got a lot to live up to."

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EastEnders actress Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell, was one of the first names to be announced.

Barton said she was a big fan of Strictly and was therefore "over the moon" to be asked to appear in series 17.

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Former England goalkeeper David James said he was persuaded to compete by ex-contestant and former swimmer Mark Foster, who had an "amazing experience" on the dancefloor.

James, 49, who was the oldest player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, said he was "really excited" to be chosen and had "some big shoes to fill" following previous appearances by sports stars.

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Comedian Chris Ramsey, who starred as Jack Pearson in the BBC Two sitcom Hebburn, said he was "really buzzing" but noted that while he is hungry for success, he has never been a natural shoe shuffler.

"You will not find me on the dancefloor at parties," said the 32-year-old. "You will find me at the buffet table... All night.

"At my wedding, I danced with my wife; that one song took about six months' practice, and I definitely stood on her feet a couple of times."

Kelvin Fletcher is best known for playing Andy Sugden on ITV soap Emmerdale between 1996 and 2016.

The 35-year-old was drafted in as a late replacement after Made In Chelsea's Jamie Laing was forced to pull out after injuring his foot while recording the group dance in the launch show.

Fletcher said being on Strictly was "a dream come true", but was also "bittersweet" because it came about as a result of Laing's withdrawal.

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Laing said: "I'm absolutely devastated that I'm unable to continue in the competition. I was so excited to hit the dance floor."

The full list of dance pairings

  • TV presenter Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton
  • US singer and TV host Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
  • Former England footballer Alex Scott and Neil Jones
  • Ex-Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
  • Comedian Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer
  • BBC Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell
  • Former England goalkeeper David James and Nadiya Bychkova
  • EastEnders star Emma Barton and Anton Du Beke
  • Fashion model Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skorjanec
  • Olympic rower James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk
  • CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
  • BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
  • YouTube star Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard
  • Paralympian Will Bayley and Janette Manrara
  • Former Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
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Image caption Hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are clearly excited. Are you?

This year's series will see the return of judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, but Dame Darcey Bussell will be replaced by Motsi Mabuse - sister of Strictly professional Oti.

Latin dancer Nancy Xu, a dancer in West End show Burn the Floor and a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance? in China, will replace the outgoing Pasha Kovalev as a professional dancer.

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