Catégories
Danse et art

Celebrity Interviews | Strictly Come Dancing 2021 | Ballet News | Straight from the stage


Picture Shows: Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies – (C) BBC – Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Adam Peaty

What made you want to take part this year?

It’s just about pushing myself and having a different challenge. I think it’s important to continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. So, I signed up to Strictly with no dancing experience… probably minus dancing experience actually!

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I honestly don’t know what’s about to hit me! I’ve been kind of laissez-faire about the whole thing and kept it very simple in my head that’ll I’ll just turn up to training and do a couple of dances!

I think the training is going to be extremely intense. I enjoy the hard work so I don’t think that’s going to be the challenge.

It’s probably the performance side of things, because it’s so different from what I do. For me, I’m an individual athlete so having to work with a partner to perform, being able to read them and for them to read you will also be very different.

Are there any dance styles in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

I love ballroom and I’m really into classical music so I’m looking forward to that. I’m a fan of all types of music but I love anything with big energy.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

Honestly, I can’t wait! It’s just going to be different. I spend my whole life in swimsuits and if I’m not doing that, it’s photoshoots covered in oil so now I get to change the oil to glitter!

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

Oh, absolute madness! It started off as a joke with my partner Eiri, that I might go on Strictly, and got more and more serious. So, as the talks when on, I said why not! So many people have messaged me to wish me luck and have been asking for tickets to come and watch so it’s been really positive. Some people think I’m retiring from swimming which isn’t happening just yet!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Absolutely none. I like to dance though. I like to move my hips… but that’s about it!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Confidence and humour as I rely on humour a lot in my day-to-day life. Someone who knows how to be strict and also when to be relaxed is very important. For instance, my coach who I’ve been working with almost 15 years can be very strict, but she also knows when to have a laugh. So, humour with a bit of strictness, I guess.

Would you say you’re a competitive person?

Extremely, extremely competitive. But, as the audience decides each week, we’ll just see how it goes and take each day as it comes. I’d like to think I’ve got a one up on a lot of the other contestants in terms of my sports performance head, but then again, this is a very different kind of sport so really, I’ll be starting from nothing!

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously?

I knew Dan Walker and Ugo Monye before. Ugo actually asked me the other night if I wanted to meet up for a couple of beers, although it could be tactical! I’m just looking forward to making new friendships and having fun.

AJ Odudu

What made you want to take part this year?

With everything that’s happened with the pandemic, I just knew that I wanted to get back out there. I’ve not been to a nightclub in two years, I’ve not been to a festival in two years, and I’ve not been to the famous working men’s clubs around the northwest of England in over two years! I’ve not socialised, I’ve not danced and I’ve not listened to music in a normal capacity so what a better way than to just get ‘Strictly-fied’ and be reintroduced to all of that in the best way possible – on the Strictly ballroom floor!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’m so excited to be ‘Strictly-fied’. I have grown up watching the show since Bruce Forsyth presented it, it’s always been a feel-good show. My mum and I always loved it – the outfits, the music, the drama and the journey. Quite frankly, I just love the idea of being transformed, hopefully, into a certified dancer!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I have zero previous experience, and I mean zero! I’ve never been to stage or drama school, but I’ve always liked clubbing. I’m confident when it comes to hitting the dance floor, but whether I should be confident, I’ll leave it to everyone else at home to decide!

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

I’m really excited to learn the Jive just because it’s very high energy, like me, and it’s a proper feel-good dance. I also just love the Charleston, it’s such a cute dance and something that you’d expect to see in a speakeasy.

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

My friends and family were so shocked! Firstly, because I was able to keep a secret that long! Secondly, they were so excited that I was doing it in the first place. There’s only a few people who can say that they’ve done Strictly Come Dancing, even after all these years, and I can’t wait to be a part of Strictly history.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I am looking for someone who’s really firm, strict, wants to get the best out of me and wants to work me hard because I’m really unprepared to work very hard, but I also want someone who is up for a laugh. So someone who is a bit cheeky but knows how to put me in my place because I am a Northern lass who is a lot to handle.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

Of course! I believe, you’ve got to be in it to win it. I want to give it 110% and put my best foot forward and hopefully come out victorious. But, with all of that being said, let’s get through show one first!

Have you had any advice?

My mum’s advice to me was just, ‘Go, go, go!’. My mum just wants me to be confident as she knows that I get really nervous. She just said to me, ‘You don’t know how long you’re going to be there, just be confident, and just know that you can do anything from day one. As soon as you step on the dance floor, go for it’. And that’s what I’m going to try and do!

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously? Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

I think Ugo’s got a lot of going for him. He’s got the looks, the stamina, the strength and I bet he’ll be able to do a lot of fancy moves. I just know he’s going to be brilliant, and he’s so lovely.

I also feel like the McFly boys just win absolutely everything. They’ve got lucky charms dangling over their heads, so I think Tom Fletcher is definitely going to be one to watch.

Robert is going to be funny and very charismatic and my girl Judi Love, everyone will love her. I mean, her name is Judi Love!

Dan Walker

What made you want to take part this year?

I’m taking part for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, my kids. They never asked me to do any specific shows other than Saturday Mashup and Strictly. So, I did Saturday Mash Up and then they said if you get asked to do Strictly, please say yes. So I said yes!

The other reason is because I work in news, the last 18 months has seen so much death, misery, heartache and a lot of people have had the worst 18 months of their lives. I just thought that you don’t get many opportunities to do stuff that is just fun and joyful so if you’re going to do it, now is a good time to.

The third reason is as I stopped doing Football Focus, I’ve had my Saturdays free for the first time in years, so here I am!

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I feel really comfortable with all the other bits of it apart from dancing, which is important! But, I’m a good student and I’m really willing and keen to learn. It’s just the great unknown for me. Am I absolutely horrific? Am I average or do I have a modicum of talent? So, this is me finding out where I am on that scale and if I can do it. I also think because I’m so tall, I feel quite awkward. Here’s a chance to put it to the test in front of millions of people on a Saturday night!

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

Everyone just assumes, probably quite rightly, that a tall bloke can’t jive or move quickly and in time. I’ve been reliably informed that I’ve got some element of rhythm, so that’s a start! I love the technical side of sport, so that’s something I really want to get into. The elements of learning where you put your body and how you make it look good, easy and comfortable – I’m really looking forward to that. I just hope I can move in the right direction!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

My normal dress for BBC Breakfast is quite casual with a suit and tie so the wardrobe here will be definitely be different so I’m looking forward to that that side of it. There aren’t many occasions in life here you get to wear white trousers!

Do you have any dances from previous series that are particular favourites of yours?

I remember watching Alesha Dixon doing the Cha Cha Cha in a gold shimmery dress with my family and all the women just gasped in amazement. It was one of those wow moments. And Ed Ball’s Gangnam Style is still absolute belter! It’s memorable, there’s talent in there somewhere and he had the Ed Balls to pull it off!

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

My wife said, ‘Have they seen you dance?’ and my kids asked me not to dance with my mouth open, but they’re really excited. My friends are all really excited and most of them are saying they’re going to watch and support. Largely, I have had a really nice reaction from people on social media telling me that they’ve been waiting for me to do the show and they’re so happy I’m finally doing it. The nicest message I got was from two women that had both sadly lost their mum to Coronavirus. They told me that I was their mum’s favourite TV presenter and that Strictly is their favourite show. They said that they wished they could have watched me on the show with their mum but they’ll be watching anyway to support. That’s a really nice motivation, to not worry about the fear of dancing and just be able to put a smile on someone’s face.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Patience and height! Just somebody’s who is a good teacher (which they all are) and someone who is willing to work with raw material!

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

My 14 year old daughter Susie has been teaching me a few things as she does dance lessons, and her sister does ballet and tap.

I’ve also watched quite a few of the professional dancers teach dances online during the lockdown.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

I know and have spoken to Jason Bell, Ranvir Singh, Mike Bushell, Naga Munchetty, Carol Kirkwood… so I’m prepared! I also know Zoe Ball really well and in fact, she was the first person I spoke to about it. They just told me to enjoy it and that I’m perfect for the show as I don’t take myself too seriously. They’ve all really encouraged me.

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously? Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

I met John on Steph’s Packed Lunch and I’ve interviewed Adam Peaty a few times. I’ve met Ugo, Judi and interviewed Tom, but I’ve not met the other celebrities. They’re all lovely and really nice, excited, fully into it and there’s no negativity.

I think AJ will be brilliant, and I’ve seen John pull some moves on Steph’s Packed Lunch. I also think Judi will be magnificent. She’s got a fantastic personality and I think people will love her. I’m also looking forward to seeing Robert Webb after his brilliant performance on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, so I think he’s going to be great.

I think the people who are either actors or performers will do well, but I also enjoy watching people like myself or Adam who do things in front of people but in a totally different world.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

Yes, I’m competitive but I haven’t reserved a spot for the Glitterball Trophy. I haven’t got that in my headspace in any way shape or form. My idea is that I want to go home on a Saturday night, see the kids and hear ‘Dad, that was good!’ If I get just one ‘Dad, that was good!’, that would be great.

Greg Wise

What made you want to take part in this year’s show?

I am doing it for my lovely sis, a disco diva queen goddess on the dance floor, who died almost exactly five years to the day to when I’m going to start work on this, so she’s prodding me hugely. She left this world in a glitterball coffin and my life will be all glitterballs for the next few months, so it seems really appropriate for her.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge?

I can’t dance! So that’s the challenge. I think I’m in good shape, I’m lucky that I’m able to keep active. I know I’ll still be thrust into the ground by my professional partner, obviously, and find muscles I never knew existed. I’ve just got to learn how to dance, that’s the bottom line.

Is there any dances you’re particularly excited to learn and perform?

Well this morning I thought the Rumba was a pudding, and then I thought the Viennese Waltz was a biscuit, so I have no idea about anything!

How are you feeling about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

As an actor, I love getting in all the costumes and getting in the world of the part that I’m playing. This is the same thing. I’m getting into the world of Strictly by playing the part of someone who knows how to dance. So throw on the sequins, spray me with tan, whiten my teeth and I’ll be fine.

Is there any dances from previous years that are particular favourites?

I loved Bill Bailey, he is a champ. His dance to Rapper’s Delight was extraordinary. He is my talisman. If Bill, who put the work in with Oti, can get through a few weeks, then so can I.

What has the reaction been like since you’ve been on the show?

Utter bemusement! That’s the fun of keeping it a secret, and not telling anyone anything. I think folks are genuinely thrilled and of course, all my mates that were friends with my sister are really touched and behind it.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I danced a Tango for a film a few years back, but who knows if it was actually a Tango!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I’m looking for someone who will be strict and rigorous and make me concentrate. Also someone who will be able to have a laugh with and we can have some fun with it.

What do you think about your fellow contestants, did you know anyone previously?

I just know Robert Webb vaguely because we live not too far from each other and we’ve been to each other’s book launch over the years. Otherwise, I don’t, but I think it’s a really interesting crowd.

Who do you think is your biggest competitor?

Probably myself, I just don’t want to let myself down.

Are you competitive?

I am self-competitive. As long as I’ve done as well as I can do, if other folks are better than me, and I get booted out, then that’s great.

John Whaite

What made you want to take part in the show this year?

I wanted to take part in Strictly because I like sequins and I like fake tan! I used to dance when I was younger, I did ballet and modern and tap, and I really want to get back into it. I have never learnt Ballroom or Latin so I can’t wait to learn.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge will be to not be too hard on myself, I know that I will get really frustrated with myself if I’m not picking up the steps. I think the key thing is just to relax, take a breath, and come back to it. For me it’s going to be a case of just relaxing into it, being myself, believing that I can do it and just enjoying the process.

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn some?

I can’t wait to learn the samba, salsa and the Cha Cha Cha. I am excited for the Latin vibes and hip movements. I am more nervous for the stiff Ballroom dances because I don’t really have strong shoulders so I think it’ll be hard to hold my posture.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I am so excited to be ‘Strictly-fied’. I was wearing glitter in the womb. I am excited for the sheer tops, tight trousers, the spray tans, hair and makeup. It’s glamourous and over the top but it’s a Saturday night! 

Do you have any dances from previous series?

I loved Michelle Visage’s voguing and Masie and Gorka’s samba, which were amazing. But equally Oti and Kevin’s samba!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Between the ages of 10-14, I did ballet, modern and tap. So I may have a few dancing bones in my body, but I’m not necessarily very good rhythmically. Ballet is very stiff and I can do a triple timestep but who knows what I will be like at Ballroom or Latin!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I want someone who’s going to be supportive emotionally because it’s going to be an emotional journey. I want someone who will push me, but also someone who is patient because I’m going to want to do maybe 10 or 12 hours a day rehearsing, because when I get into something like this, I give my heart and soul to it. I’m a total perfectionist, which can sometimes be a negative thing as I know I need to relax. So I hope I have a partner who will support that and also someone who’s going to be really good fun.

How are you preparing for the show?

I’m doing a bit more cardio. I’ve done weightlifting now for years, and I’ve really got into bodybuilding in the past 18 months. So I’ve now started to incorporate more stretching and cardio into my routine, and I have been watching what I eat as I want to get more lean.

I am also shaving my chest, a lot more than I ever did!

Have you had any advice from anyone who has done the show before?

Michelle Visage texted me and said to start stretching immediately! Gemma Atkinson said it’s going to be the best thing you ever you will ever do, you’ll have the most fun, so enjoy every minute,

What do you think about the rest of the class of 2021?

I think it’s such a great line-up, I mean to have Adam Peaty is mega, an actual Olympian!

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

I genuinely don’t see it as a competition, in my eyes, you do well and you’ll get through to next week, not based on what everyone else is doing. I think I’ll feel more competitive if I get to Halloween week and beyond, that’s when things will start to get serious.

Are you a competitive person?

I’m very competitive but I always think if someone else is better than you then they deserve to be there. So I am competitive, but I am also a team player, which is a bit of a contradiction.

Judi Love

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?

It’s such a fantastic opportunity, especially after the last 18 months. Also, to have something to really look forward to and have the chance to develop a new skill is most people’s dream. I’m just excited to take part in a show that has such a phenomenal reputation of seeing people push themselves in something new.

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I think the biggest challenge will be learning the moves and retraining my body. The challenge of getting rid of old habits and pushing yourself physically.

Are any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

The Rumba, Salsa and the Jive. All of them!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

Oh I’m up for that! Come on, who wants to turn down a bit of glitz and glam?!

Do you have any contestants from previous series that were particular favourites of yours?

I’ll definitely say Alesha Dixon because she just looked like a professional. The way she just flowed with the music… it was great.

What has the reaction been like from friends and family to you taking part in Strictly this year?

It’s been fantastic! People are telling me they’re going to start a campaign for me! They’re just so excited. It’s completely out of the box of what I would usually do so they’re happy.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Only dancing in the clubs and partying in the house!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Someone who’s really determined to bring out the dancer in me. Someone who’s not going to be too fluffy. I want someone who’s going to push me but be compassionate – compassionate but tough!

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

Everyone’s advice has just been enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and don’t worry about anything. And to really put myself into different characters every time I go onto the dancefloor. Also, not to read anything on social media and not to see it as just a competition but to see it as I’m experiencing something that is a whole moment – from putting on the outfit to going out on the stage. That’s what I lot of people have been saying to me.

And what do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know them previously and who’s your biggest competition?

I knew AJ before this but at this moment I’m not thinking of it as a competition. I see myself as my biggest competition because I believe it’s your thoughts and your mind and what you think about yourself that gets you through it.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

I’m in it to win it for myself. I definitely would love to win it but who wouldn’t?! It’s Strictly. But I think it’s more about battling my own challenges first.

Katie McGlynn

Katie McGlynn

What made you want to take part this year?

Every year I watch Strictly Come Dancing and I just think that everyone has the time of the life doing it, so I’ve always wanted to do it. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. I’ve always admired dancers but I’ve just never had the time to get into it. I fell in love with acting when I was younger and that’s the road that I took, so I’m now living out a childhood dream!

I am well excited for the sequins, the glitz, the glamour and learning a new skill. I actually just want to learn how to dance because I haven’t got a clue!

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I think the challenge that I’ll face is remembering all the steps and making it all look good! I can tell from watching Strictly in the past how much goes into it, the discipline in learning all the footwork and putting everything together in order to do a good performance.

Are any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

I’m excited to do the Paso Doble. I’m not saying I’m going to be good, but that’s always such a dramatic, passion driven dance, and you can really get your teeth into the characters in that, so I think that’d be really fun. All of the Latin dances look like so much fun so I think those would be my go-to dances, but they are really fast. I think my mind will be on it but I don’t know if my feet will catch up!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’m so excited because day-to-day, I’m a bit of a tomboy. I like to be comfortable, but then, on a Saturday night with the girls, I love getting glammed up, so it’s just a dream come true. Every time I watch the show, I think that Halloween Week is mega. I love Halloween and I think that all of the costumes are just beautifully made and the whole production is just amazing. I also love a spray tan too!

Do you have any alumni or dances from previous series that are particular favourites of yours?

Louis Smith was amazing in his year. I thought that Lisa Riley, who is a friend of mine, smashed it when she did it too. Caroline Flack was just mega! Her showdance to ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams was beautiful. Also, Bill Bailey’s Couple Choice was great. When I watched it, I thought to myself that he was going to win it as he was so good!

I also loved Catherine Tyldesley’s Charleston to Single Ladie. She is another friend of mine so I am a proper supporter of my friends! There are just so many iconic dances.

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

Everyone’s super excited for me and my friends can’t wait for me to get to get going because usually, the only time I dance is to make them laugh! I just mess around all the time and I’m not a serious dancer so this is going to be interesting!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Not really. I did pantomimes when I was younger and I did the chorus performances. I also did The Greatest Dancer for Sport Relief, you only had two days to train but I had so much fun. I wasn’t the best but I just enjoyed it which made me really want to do Strictly.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I’m looking for somebody who is fun and up for a laugh. I want to work hard because I am a grafter, but at the end of the day I want to have some fun and I think that’s what we’re here for. I want to have a really nice, pleasant experience. So, someone who’s tall, who’s looking for a laugh and someone who can teach me some new moves! They’d also need a lot of patience too actually because I think I might be a bit slow in picking the dance moves up!

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I’ve just been watching all the dances from previous years as much as I can. I’ve also been doing Zumba and I know it’s not the same but that’s just to try and get in the mindset of learning routines. I’ve also been training a lot with my personal trainer and he’s been brilliant, I’ve been doing a lot of cardio stuff with him. I’ve just been trying to get fit and eat well really!

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

All of my friends who have done the show have said to enjoy every second of it because it’s the time of your life. They’ve also said to try not to overthink it, not worry too much and to just enjoy it. All of them have said they’d do it again in a heartbeat. I get quite nervous thinking about it because it’s the fear of the unknown. As soon as I get on stage or do a performance, I love it but it’s the lead up which freaks me out so I’m going try and just enjoy it.

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously?

I’ve met Judi before, working on Stand Up To Cancer for charity, so I was chuffed when I saw she’d be doing Strictly. I think we’ve got a really nice group. Everybody seems genuinely really nice! It’s a really varied group, I love it! I think we’re all still going to get on like a house on fire this year.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

I’m competitive with myself. Because I know I’m not a dancer, I’m not expecting anything miraculous to happen. But as long as I do my best, then I’ll be happy. Every week, I want to do things better than I did the week before, give 110% every week and hope for the best.

Obviously, I want to win. I’m sure everyone does. If anyone says they don’t, they’re lying!

A personal goal of mine would be to make the themed weeks because they’re my favourite. And then anything after that is a complete bonus to me. If I won it, I wouldn’t know what to do – I’d probably freak out!

Nina Wadia

Nina Wadia

What made you want to take part in the show?

This year feels like the perfect year to just let off steam. It’s been a bit of a dark time for a lot of people, and it certainly was in our family as well, so I just want to go out and enjoy my life.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I think it’s going to be my stamina. It’s going to be energy levels because I have been inactive during the pandemic, I’ve been walking but not really exercising so that’s going to be the toughest challenge.

Is there anything you’re doing to prepare?

I am stretching and you know just taking my general fitness level up a notch, but literally just a notch!

What has the reaction been like to being part of the 2021 line-up?

My daughter is very excited. My son’s told me not to embarrass him. And my husband said he doesn’t want to sit through a long time of filming so I can give his ticket elsewhere!

Do you have any previous thoughts experience?

I trained when I was a very little girl, I did some Indian dance training called Bharatanatyam, from ages 4-9. And then when we moved to Hong Kong from 11-16 I did tap dancing.

What do you want in a dance partner?

Someone who’s fun and who’s going to make learning fun and make dancing fun. That’s what I care about. I need someone who is going to be a bit strict, because I might slack off if I get the chance, but I want to make sure I am happy.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show?

Ruth Langford was excited that I was going to be on the show. Christine Lampard said it’s very hard work and you’ll get blisters, but enjoy it as it’s so much fun.

What do you think of your fellow contestants?

They seem like such a fun group. I think there’s some characters in there, and I think I’m going to come out with a bunch of friends from this. I think Robert Webb is going to be good competition, his Flashdance routine is still ingrained in my brain.

Rhys Stephenson

So what made you want to take part in this year’s Strictly?

I was a fan ever since I saw Jay McGuinness do that jive, it was immense. So after that I’ve always, secretly, hoped to do the show. Seeing Karim do it two years ago, and how much fun he had, that solidified it for me that it would be such a cool thing to do.

Have you had any advice before taking part?

I spoke to Karim and also to Joe Sugg, and they both made it to the finals, so fingers crossed! They both said, just enjoy it, but you cannot slack off in your training. Other than that, they’ve just told me to really embrace the whole thing because it’s such a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Only street dance school which I did when I was about 15 years old.

Apart from that, everything else I learned about dance was from music videos. I love Will Smith and in Men In Black 2, at the end there is that nod your head music video and I watched that relentlessly.

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I’ve just been watching loads of YouTube videos of the past contestants and paying attention to the pro dancers, and listening out for any music I think I would like to dance to, as I think you really have to feel the music to enjoy it.

Do you have any particular favourite dances from previous series?

Jay McGuinness’s dance to Pulp Fiction in Movie Week is my all-time favourite and I really loved Faye and Giovanni’s Charleston, that was unbelievable, I loved the whole puppet theme. An honourable mention that both delighted me and made me furious, was Will Bayley and Janette’s Paso Doble to Pokemon because I’m a massive Pokemon fan. I was furious that it wasn’t me!

Are there any dances in particular you are excited to learn?

The Jive, whenever someone is dancing the Jive I pay attention, I just know it’ll be hard. And the Paso Doble, just because it will be so different to my day job on CBBC where I get to be pretty goofy and light hearted. So there is something exciting about being serious and intense. I’m intrigued about the Latin, to see if my hips move in that way too.

How was the reaction when you announced?

It’s been unbelievable. When I got the CBBC gig my friends were so excited but with Strictly it is next level. I’ve had so many messages from friends, my mum is over the moon, my sisters physically jumped on me. They were all so excited.

Are you competitive?

Yes, I’m not going to pretend to be anything else. I’m in it for the experience, but I’m also in it to win. For me, even when I am rubbish, I play to win. I want to know I’ve given it my all and shown what I can do. But I want to champion every single person who’s trying to win that glitterball as well!

So what would you say about your fellow competitors?

I think they all have great potential, I think Adam will be good competition as he has the mentality of an Olympian. AJ, her energy is next level, I feel like she is fearless, so I need to match her energy, she is like a Duracell bunny.

The biggest challenge you will face?

The footwork, I can flare it and give some attitude, but with the ballroom you need the footwork and the posture. Small things that the judges will focus on, I think that will be my biggest challenge.

Robert Webb

Robert Webb

What made you want to take part this year?

It’s just a straightforward wish to jump up and down in funny costumes for the viewing pleasure of the ladies and gentlemen of the British public mainly. There’s also the fact that two years ago, I had to have quite a big heart operation, which made me think, ‘This is no time to be cool’. It gave me a slightly different perspective. It was between yes and no and yes felt like the bigger and more generous and more expansive answer. No would have left me feeling like a coward.

Are any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

They all look really exciting. I hope I’m there long enough to try a few out. I’ve always loved the attitude of the Tango. The performer in me is looking forward to acting those different sort of styles and doing all of the faces really!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’m up for an extreme costume. You can spray me most colours but I just don’t want to look like Donald Trump.

Do you have any dances from previous series that are particular favourites of yours?

I loved Bill and Oti’s dance to Rapper’s Delight. I thought that was classy and wonderful. I mean, it’s all just so joyful. There’s such a good feeling about the show because it’s like, ‘Let’s work out a dance and then show the grownups and then the grownups actually give you marks out of 10!’ It’s just a really big, massive, beautiful entertainment show.

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

Very excited. In fact, I’d tentatively say they are more excited than me and that is pretty excited.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

The only thing I’ve done that was structured choreography was when I did Let’s Dance for Comic Relief in 2009 and I did a dance recreating the famous dance scene from Flashdance. That was fun but it was really hard. I’m no better than anybody else learning or remembering moves but I know from the outside it looks like that because I went on to win it. But, I know the truth and the truth is that the first live performance was the first time I got from start to finish without stopping! I was just utterly terrified beyond belief. I’m hoping it won’t be as bad this time as I’ll have longer to rehearse and a partner!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

She’s got to be very, very patient and have fabulous forgiveness because I’m a pretty slow learner. Once I’ve got it, I usually make a reasonable attempt to sell it but it takes a while for me to get it. So just a very patient person please!

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I’m trying to stay reasonably fit. I had a calf strain, which meant I had to stop running for four weeks which was very frustrating, but I know that I’m going to need a bit of stamina. I used to do absolutely nothing but since my heart operation, I’ve been doing weights and running. It took me about a year before I could run, but since then I’ve become quite a sporty person, but I’ve had to stop for a while.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

I don’t know anyone personally who’s done it before but I have worked with Mark Benton and Seann Walsh. I do remember advice that Shirley Ballas gave at the beginning of one of the previous series which was, ‘Leave your ego at the door of the rehearsal room’. I think that’s very good advice because you just haven’t got the energy to spare. You’re dancing all day long. You haven’t got the energy to get to cross with yourself, all of your energy has to go into failing better until you’re not failing anymore.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

I think in the early weeks, I’ll be hanging on for dear life and just trying to survive from one moment to the next but if I get halfway through then I think I will start to invest in putting trip wires outside dressing room doors and spiking their energy drinks with laxatives.

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling-Ellis

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?

I feel like it’s so important for somebody like me to be on the show, I want to break down the stereotype that deaf people can’t dance and can’t enjoy music.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge?

Probably being fit enough to dance every single day, I have been trying to up my fitness but I am nervous about having enough stamina to dance all day every day.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’ve never had a spray tan, so I am looking forward to that. I can walk OK in heels, but dancing shoes are different so I feel like that could be a challenge.

What has the reaction been like?

Everyone has been so lovely, when the news came out my phone went mad. I have been really lucky that everyone has been super supportive, my deaf friends in particular are so excited for me.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I haven’t had any professional training, I did ballet when I was very young, I didn’t last very long though. I’ve also done theatre training so you learn a bit there, but mainly my dancing involves a night out.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

 I’m looking for someone that can communicate very well, because in sign language we speak very literally, so I need someone who understands that. I am a good student but I need someone that will push me.

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I keep telling myself I need to get my stamina up, so I’ve been doing hot yoga which I love.

Have you had any advice?

Emma Barton and Danny Dyer just said to just be myself!

What do you think about your fellow contestants?

Everyone seems so lovely and sweet. I think Tom could be my biggest competitor as he is musical so he has the rhythm.

Would you say you’re competitive, are you in it to win it?

I don’t want to admit that I am competitive but I am a bit. It’s healthy to be competitive though, I just don’t take it too seriously.

Sara Davies

Sara Davies MBE

What made you want to take part this year?

It’s been a dream I’ve had my whole life. It’s always been something that I never thought would be achievable. When I got on the panel of Dragon’s Den, alongside Deborah Meaden, she would talk about it all the time and people would say to me ‘You might be asked to go on Strictly next!’ And now here we are!

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

Deborah talks about it all the time and says it was one of the best experiences of her life. Obviously, I wasn’t able to tell anybody I was doing it so she didn’t know that when she was talking to me about it and I was asking her questions, it was because I was going on the show. I had to keep it top secret. She said mainly your feet hurt a lot but other than that everything else is really positive!

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

The ballroom dances because they’re so elegant. You see them with their heads turned outward and their arms outstretched, really getting into the steps and the technicality, so I’m really excited about those dances.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

Beyond excited! For me, that’s one of the big highlights. It’s always my favourite part of Dragon’s Den, getting ready in the morning with someone making you look like your best self. So, it’s like that on a whole other level on Strictly. It’s like every little girls dream! It’s like when you’re little and dreamed of being a Disney princess only you actually get to be a princess every week.

Do you have any dances from previous series that are particular favourites of yours?

Back in series two, Jill Halfpenny (who’s another Northern lass!) did the Jive and it was absolutely off the charts. I remember watching it then and I’ve watched it back online since and I was just in awe of it. I loved that one! Also, when Maisie Smith dressed up as Elsa from Frozen last year doing the American Smooth. Anything where someone is dressed up as Disney Princess has my vote!

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

My friends and family can’t wait. Honestly, people just can’t believe it. Everybody wants to come and watch in the studio and I’m having to tell them that they can watch at home in the living room on the telly!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I am absolutely brilliant once I’ve had a couple of drinks on a Saturday night in the pub or a wedding or something like that! I love getting up to dance but I don’t have any official moves. I’m just very good at the ‘Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box’.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I am really keen to work massively hard and really push myself, so I need somebody who’s not going to go easy on me. I want someone who’s actually going to push me and won’t settle for just OK, that’s what I’m really looking for.

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously? Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

There are some lovely people! knew John Whaite, because I’ve been on Steph’s Packed Lunch before when he’s been there. He just seems so warm, friendly, welcoming and so lovely. I’ve also met Judi Love when I’ve been on Loose Women and she’s been on the panel. We got on so well after the show and struck up a bit of a relationship so I was so excited when I saw Judi was going to be on the show too.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

I am fiercely competitive. I think that’s comes from the nature of being in the business world, but I can’t picture myself being that good at dancing because I haven’t been through the training yet so winning feels like a pipe dream. However, you’ve got to aim for the big time and then wherever you get is a bonus. So, I’m aiming big!

Tilly Ramsay

Tilly Ramsay

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?

I’m really excited to have a challenge, and to learn how to dance and push myself out of my comfort zone.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Learning to dance! Having to wear high heels and having to remember the steps, basically!

Is there any dance in particular you are excited to learn?

I’m really excited to learn the Waltz. It’s very elegant and graceful and something you can use that later on in life, I can keep that for a wedding!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I cannot wait to be Strictly-fied! The glitz and the glamour is way more than I usually do at home. I am excited for the spray tans, the sequins, not so much the heels.

Is there any dances from previous series that particularly stands out to you?

I love Jamie Laing’s Charleston which he did as Hercules, that was cool. I am excited for the themed weeks, getting through to Halloween would be fun!

What has the reaction been like since you’ve kind of been announced on the show?

My family have been very excited. The same with friends, except my brother who said ‘you cannot dance’, so I’ll have to prove him wrong!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I tried dancing when I was much younger, but that definitely wasn’t for me. Mum put us in ballet school but I wasn’t very good so I ended up at football camp with my brother.

So what are you looking for in a dance partner?

I am looking for someone who’s patient with me because it might take me a while, and someone who’s just going to have fun and enjoy it with me.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show?

I spoke to Ruth Langford, who said wear blister plasters before you start. But everyone has said it’s so much fun so enjoy it.

What do you think about your fellow contestants?

Everyone just seems like they’re going to be up for a laugh, there is going to be that competitive edge but in a nice way. I can’t wait to meet everyone properly and get to know them.

Who do you think is your biggest competitor?

I think they’re all my biggest competitors to be honest, I have no idea about their dancing abilities. They’ll be glad to know that I think mine is pretty low, so I probably won’t be their biggest competition!

Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher

What made you want to take part?

I’ve wanted to take part for a  long time, secretly since my band mate did it in 2011. Then this year, my son Buzz was the deciding factor for me, he’s really got into the show over the last couple of years, he especially loved Chris Ramsay in it and Jamie Laing. Staying up on a Saturday night for it has become our thing and he’s at an age where that’s really exciting for him. So when the call came through he was at the forefront of my mind.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

Probably the confidence to move my body and not look silly, release my inhibitions! I’m a musician so I understand music but I don’t trust my body!

Are there any dances you’re most excited to learn and perform?

I think the Jive, because that one feels the one I’ll understand the most. The music its usually to is the most similar to the music I play with my band. So I’m used to moving to that kind of music more than I am to like a Salsa. I’m really scared about the Latin ones, I think I’ll struggle with them.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’m really looking forward to that. I like embracing some quite out there looks. I’ve never been spray-tanned before so I’m quite looking forward to that.

Are there any dances from previous series that have been particular favourites?

I loved Jay and Aliona’s Jive, that was a real strictly classic. And Georgia May Foote’s dance to Fix You when she was blindfolded, that was amazing.

What has the reaction been like to you doing Strictly this year? How have your friends and family reacted?

My friends are my bandmates and they’ve been supportive. I got Harry’s blessing to begin with. I came to watch Harry every single week apart from the two weeks I went out to Australia because Dougie was in I’m A Celebrity and I was out supporting him there!

Have you got any dance experience ?

I went to theatre school, so I danced a bit at school, but that was a long time ago and nothing like what you’d learn on Strictly.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I just want someone who’s going to have a good time and make it a good experience. I’m not ultra-competitive so I just want to enjoy it. It’s once in a lifetime you get to do this show so I’m not going to become obsessed with being the best dancer out of the celebrities, I just want to know that I’ve done my best. My favourite dances from Strictly are the ones where they look like they’re just having the best time and when we’re on the dancefloor I want to not be worrying about my score or how I compare to everyone else, I just want to be looking at my partner and really enjoying the dance we’re doing together. So I really hope I find someone who shares that mentality.

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I’m so inflexible, I’m just trying to touch my toes, I don’t know what else I can do! At the beginning of the year when I first said yes I said to myself I was going to get into really good shape and life just got in the way!

Have you had advice from anyone before taking part in the show?

Only from Harry, who filled me in on what you go through behind the scenes, what you don’t see on TV! But he’s not given me anything that valuable yet!

Are you a competitive person and are you in it to win the glitterball trophy?

I am quite a competitive person but I’m in it to have the best experience that i can. I would love to get through to the end but as long as I have a good time and give it my best I don’t mind how far I go.

Ugo Monye

Ugo Monye

What made you want to take part this year?

When Strictly comes calling you have to accept! It’s the biggest entertainment show on TV and it’s consistently been that for well over a decade. In my previous life, I played rugby, learned how to focus, have drive and passion. Although I absolutely love what I do, I’m now able to fully step out of my lane and have a brand new challenge. Every single day you get to learn a new skill and you’re doing it on the biggest of all stages, so that was really enticing to me.

I had both of my girls, Phoenix and Ruby after I retired and I would have loved them to watch me play rugby but both my girls, especially my eldest Phoenix, loves dance and she does ballet every single week. She’s obsessed by it and now she’s of an age where she can watch the show over a weekend and watch her Daddy on TV. So I’m really excited about that. It just felt like all the stars were now aligned.

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

The intensity, but I am used to that kind of pressure.

Also the compartmentalising, learning the tango one week, obsessing over it for seven days then drawing a line under it and moving onto another dance. So being able to retain, remember, then forget, every single week!

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

The Samba. The music reflects the dance and you can hear the crowd, the live audience and everyone’s out of their seats. That’s the kind of high tempo dance that I think will bring out the best in me and I think I’ll enjoy the most.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I’m game! I think if you’re going to do it, you’ve got do it properly. You’ll be seeing my belly button most weeks! The costume is such a big part of the dance and the outfits reflect it so I’d welcome it. I’m definitely not afraid of it, it’s something I’ll embrace.

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

Initially, it was only my wife that knew. She was really, really excited and then I rang my mum who was buzzing. It’s my mother-in-law’s favourite show on telly! My mates are all really proud of me which has been great. People who maybe wouldn’t usually watch the show have told me they’re going to watch and vote. It’s just been uplifting and positive.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Weddings, holidays, nightclubs… I actually did The Full Monty a few years ago! That was very different though as we had one dance instructor for everyone, who was trying to get eight of us to do choreography at the same time, in time, so that been my only experience of having professional dance choreography! A few friends have asked if I have practised before but I don’t want to. I want day one to feel like day one.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

I like to think I’d be an obedient student. I really want to have a laugh. It’s a competition of course but you want to have the best experience and part of that is having fun and a smile in your face. I want someone to make me work really hard. I’m of the opinion that if you work really hard, you give yourself the best opportunity.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

I am really competitive because I believe if you’re going to take part in the show, why not see how far you can go? If you’re here now, you might as well go on and win it! But then, there are 14 other people who are thinking the same thing and that’s the beauty of the competition. Everyone has various levels of ability, natural rhythm, the ability to take things on board and impress the judges and the public. I’d be disappointed if the others didn’t want to win it too, I think we all should!

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

I’ve spoken to Ore Oduba, who of course went onto win the show, and Jamie Laing who was on the show last year. It’s quite nice to have a sense of what it’s been like from a couple of sources, however, I know my experience will be different to theirs!

Most advice has just been to enjoy it, it’s like nothing else you’ve done or experienced before so take the time to enjoy it. It’s a great show and has consistently remained a great show because people have taken the time to put the work in. It’s cast really well, paired really well and I think the contestants make it so good by committing to it. So, if you have 15 people who are really committed, you’re set to have a great show!