26th Oct, 2020

Who is taking part in Strictly Come Dancing 2020?

Leamington Editorial 17th Oct, 2020

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return to television screens tonight (Saturday) for its launch show.

The programme will see this year’s celebrity contestants get paired with their professional partners, before they all take to the dance floor to perform a group routine.

This year’s series will be shorter than usual due to the pandemic.

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas will return to the panel but Bruno Tonioli will initially be absent from the Saturday night panel because he is in the US as a judge on Dancing With The Stars.

However he will join remotely for the Sunday night results show and is due to return full-time towards the end of the series, the BBC has said.

The show will take place in front of a much-reduced live audience.

Coronavirus measures also mean that while couples will be in close quarters with each other during rehearsals and performances, they will socially distance from other contestants.

Either the professional dancer or the celebrity will also be living on their own for the duration of the series as they form an exclusive support bubble.

However, one thing hasn’t changed… this year’s Strictly Come Dancing celebrity contestants have had their glamorous makeovers and are ready to rumba.

Here is a rundown of who will be putting their best foot forward on the dance floor.

 

Jacqui Smith

Labour politician Smith, 57, served as the MP for Redditch from 1997 until 2010 and was the first female home secretary.

She quit the Cabinet in 2009 after it emerged that adult films watched by her husband had been charged to the taxpayer.

Smith later took a backbench position but lost her seat in the 2010 election.

She is now chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and a Children’s Trust in Sandwell, and has a podcast, For The Many, with broadcaster Iain Dale.

HRVY

Harvey Leigh Cantwell, 21, follows in the footsteps of fellow YouTubers Joe Sugg and Saffron Barker in joining the show.

The former presenter of CBBC’s Friday Download, HRVY was born in Kent and first rose to fame after uploading his music videos to Facebook.

He signed to Virgin EMI in 2017 and has supported Little Mix and shared the stage with Jonas Blue at Capital FM’s Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball.

HRVY also performed at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2019.

He has more than a billion combined streams to his name and a social media following of more than 10 million globally.

The social media star had to isolate for 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus, but later received a negative test result which put him back in action for the launch show.

Jamie Laing

Made In Chelsea star Laing is returning after having to pull out of last year’s series in the early stages due to an injury.

The reality TV star and entrepreneur said he is doing Strictly again in the hopes of making his mum proud.

Off-screen, he has founded his own gourmet sweet company called Candy Kittens, and also hosts a podcast called Private Parts. He is dating his MIC co-star Sophie Habboo.

 

Maisie Smith

EastEnders actress Smith is best known for her role as Tiffany Butcher-Baker in the soap.

She is no stranger to Strictly, having won the Children In Need Cha Cha in 2019 with professional dancer Kevin Clifton.

However, Smith said she has no technical dance ability and has been staying fit throughout lockdown by making TikTok videos.

 

 

JJ Chalmers

Scottish TV presenter JJ Chalmers was the eighth celebrity confirmed for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. He is a former Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist.

Chalmers, 33, was injured in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He competed in the 2014 Invictus Games, where he captained the trike cycling team. He won one gold, as part of a trio, and two bronze medals.

His TV presenting roles include the Rio Paralympics, as well as the Invictus Games and other stints for BBC Sport.

 

Bill Bailey

The comedian and TV star has appeared on Black Books, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and QI.

The 55-year-old is also a classically trained musician and performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2008 in Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra.

He has joked that his dance skills are a “little patchy”.

 

 

 

Nicola Adams

The Olympic gold medallist will take to the dance floor as part of the show’s first same-sex pairing.

The 37-year-old boxer – nicknamed The Lioness – retired with an undefeated record and held the WBO female flyweight title last year.

She also became the first openly LGBT person to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, after her triumph at the 2012 Games in London.

Her debut on the show marks the first time a same-sex couple has competed in Strictly.

Johannes Radebe and fellow professional Graziano di Prima made history when they performed together on the BBC show last year.

Adams is dating Ella Baig and has been praised as an LGBT role model.

Ranvir Singh

The journalist and presenter has travelled on board the RAF Voyager with the Prime Minister and reported live as the Grenfell Tower fire unfolded.

She has also appeared on daytime TV shows Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women as well as Good Morning Britain and ITV News.

Born and raised in Preston, Singh attended the University of Central Lancashire and spent 12 years at the BBC as a producer, reporter and presenter.

She co-presented BBC North West Tonight and in 2010 was awarded best on-screen talent at the Royal Television Society’s North West Awards.

 

Clara Amfo

The presenter and activist is best known for her show on BBC Radio 1, while her other credits include presenting the Brit Awards and the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury.

Amfo is also a fixture on the judging panel for the Mercury Prize and a regular on the red carpet, hosting premieres for Sir Elton John’s Rocketman, The Crimes Of Grindelwald, Marvel’s Black Panther, and Disney’s The Lion King.

She also appeared on the Activism Now cover of British Vogue, and is a contributing editor to Elle magazine.

In June, the London-born presenter, who has Ghanaian heritage, was praised for making an emotional speech during her Radio 1 show about the death of George Floyd, racism and its effect on her mental health.

Caroline Quentin

One of the nation’s best-loved actresses, Quentin has 40 years of experience in showbusiness.

The 60-year-old found fame as Dorothy in 90s comedy Men Behaving Badly, before starring in dramas including Jonathan Creek and crime series Blue Murder.

She has also fronted a number of documentaries and two series of The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes for BBC Two.

Quentin, originally from Surrey, performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2019.

She was married to Have I Got News For You comic Paul Merton from 1990 until their divorce in 1998.

The same year she met her current husband, Sam Farmer, on the set of Men Behaving Badly, where he was a runner.

They married in 2005 and have two children.

Jason Bell

Former American footballer and BBC pundit Bell, 42, finished his career playing for the New York Giants in 2007.

But the California-born sportsman will step into a different arena when he debuts on Strictly.

Bell played as a cornerback/safety for the Dallas Cowboys, before moving to the Houston Texans, where he won the Ed Block Courage Award, one of the league’s highest honours.

Alongside fellow NFL alumni Osi Umenyiora, he presents The NFL Show on the BBC and The Jason & Osi Podcast.

Bell had a daughter, Anaiya, with Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle in 2014 but they later split after an 11-year relationship.

Max George

Manchester-raised George, 32, started out as a footballer for Preston North End but after an injury ended his sporting career, he decided to pursue music.

He found fame as a member of pop group The Wanted, who scored two number one singles in the UK before going on an indefinite hiatus in 2014.

George, who has dated actress Michelle Keegan, moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, appearing in the sixth season of Glee as Clint, before returning to the spotlight as a solo musician.

He follows in the footsteps of former bandmate Jay McGuiness, who won Strictly in 2015 with professional partner Aliona Vilani.


Strictly Come Dancing will air at 7.50pm on Saturday on BBC One.

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