Photo Hello Magazine
Photo Hello Magazine

The BBC dancing show confirmed that the rugby star would be the 15th contestant during The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan on Friday night (August 13).

The 38-year-old athlete started his career in 2002, eventually winning a Premiership title and making 241 appearances for the Harlequins. He also played for the England team and, since stepping off the pitch, has become one of the new captains on A Question of Sport.

"What a dream come true," he said. "Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can't wait to show everyone I've got more than just dad dancing moves.

There are 15 celebs taking part in this series, and here, in all its glory, is the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing line-up:

1.Robert Webb

Photo BT
Photo BT

The first star to join the Strictly line-up was comedian and actor Robert Webb. Webb is best known as one half of a comedy double-act alongside David Mitchell, the pair starring in long-running sitcom Peep Show as well as sketch series That Mitchell and Webb Look.

Webb, 48, has also appeared on panel shows including Have I Got News for You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI, in sitcoms The Smoking Room and Fresh Meat and alongside Mitchell in comedy-drama Ambassadors and a film, Magicians. "My goal is to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders. I know it’s going to be a challenge. To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing.”

2.AJ Odudu

PRESENTER AJ Odudu says it's a "dream come true" to be joining the family-favourite show after almost quitting TV for good.

AJ was hit by a barrage of online hate following her TV debut on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.

The 33-year-old - who suffered constant racist slurs as a child growing up in Blackburn - was left traumatised when she was branded “the black girl with the dodgy accent”.

Photo BT
Photo BT

But having gone from strength to strength in her career ever since, AJ is now a much-love presenter currently starring alongside Emma Willis in ITV's Cooking With The Stars.

AJ said: “I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I'm so glad I can finally tell my mum. Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon!

"I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!”

3.Tom Fletcher

OBVIOUSLY, McFly singer Tom Fletcher is renowned for being a talented singer and songwriter - but do his dance skills match up?

He follows bandmate Harry Judd into the Strictly ballroom, with Harry winning the show a decade ago now, beating actress Chelsee Healey in the 2011 final.

Photo BT
Photo BT

Tom, whose wife Giovanna won I'm A Celebrity last year, told host Alex Jones, that he'd known about doing Strictly since "around Christmas," and added that Harry had been a big help so far.

The 36-year-old joked he's more excited than he looks in his announcement photograph as he prepares to take on the famous ballroom.

For Tom, triumph on Strictly would cement him and wife Giovanna as the kings and queens of reality TV after her victory on I'm A Celeb.

The pair have already discussed the infamous show curse that's broken up even the strongest of marriages, like Jamie and Louise Redknapp - but Tom and Giovanna insist they're not worried.

Tom said: “I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in while I’m writing this! I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified!

"My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen. I’m not sure how far they’ll get me in the competition but I can’t wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire.”

4.Nina Wadia

EASTENDERS star Nina Wadia was inspired by the Covid pandemic to sign up - despite being absolutely terrified.

The actress, who played Zainab Masood, said she prefers to "dance like no one's watching", joking: "So we just have to blindfold the judges and I can win."

The 52-year-old believes it's her last chance to wear heels before she is too old and wants to "grab life by the balls and do it".

Who are the judges and hosts for the 2021 series?

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be back as the presenters of Strictly Come Dancing for an eighth year.

Head judge Shirley Ballas is returning as the head judge and will be rejoined by Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood.

However, Bruno Tonioli won't be on the judging lineup for a second year in a row due to Covid travel restrictions. He will be replaced by professional dancer Anton Du Beke.

5.Greg Wise

THE Crown actor Greg Wise has admitted his famous wife Emma Thompson, is "stupidly excited" to watch him.

The 55-year-old star, who played Lord Louis Mountbatten in the hit Netflix show, has also starred in Sense & Sensibility, Effie Gray, and Walking On Sunshine.

But he emotionally revealed he's taking on this new challenge in memory of his late sister.

He said: "My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her.

"My gorgeous Diva sis, who would have been insane with excitement that her little bro was doing this. I will channel her, as her bro can’t dance - but I’m thrilled to be dipping my toes, knees, hips and arms into this wonderful world, and hope to make her proud, and obviously make her laugh…”

6.Tilly Ramsay

Photo The Sun
Photo The Sun

CELEBRITY chef Gordon Ramsay's daughter is hoping to become a star in her own right after getting the chance to star on Strictly.

Tilly - who was ruled out of the 2020 series when she broke her arm - has been given a second opportunity this year.

But she's got to concentrate on dancing instead of off-screen romances, with dad Gordon warning: "Don't date those dancers!"

Tilly has worked with Gordon on This Morning for a regular segment called Big Chef, Little Chef.

She has also fronted a CBBC cooking show, Matilda And The Ramsay Bunch, since 2015.

Tilly said: “I’m so excited and grateful to be joining the Strictly family! I’m always up for fun new challenges and this will be my biggest adventure yet!

"I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on and show my Dad how it’s really done! Bring on the glitz, glamour and sequins!”

7.Judi Love

SHE is best known for voicing her views on Loose Women, but now Judi Love is going to let her feet do the talking.

The daytime TV star and comedian - who previously took part in Celebrity MasterChef - is stepping up to the dancefloor this autumn.

Judi, 41, said she was overwhelmed when Strictly bosses reached out to her and she snapped up the chance.

Judi said: “I think I am still in shock that I will be part of this amazing show. I’ve watched it for many years and admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft.

Photo The Sun
Photo The Sun

"I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!! I can’t lie I’m so nervous but excited at the same time!!”

8.Adam Peaty

OLYMPIAN Adam Peaty brought home GB's first gold medal of Tokyo 2020.

But could he add the glitterball trophy to his achievements this year?

The defending 100m breaststroke champion will use his competitive streak to climb the leaderboard.

He said: “I think this will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I’m so excited to finally share the news that I’ll be joining Strictly this year.

"I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool. I’m hoping my competitive nature is going to compensate for my dancing abilities!”

Adam revealed earlier this month that he would be taking a break from swimming to focus on his mental health following in the steps of fellow sport stars Simone Biles and Ben Stokes.

9.Dan Walker

DAN Waltzer - sorry, Walker - surprised his BBC Breakfast co-star Louise Minchin live on the show when he announced he'd signed up to Strictly.

Louise had no idea that her pal was about to appear via video link, exclaiming that she had "nothing in the running order" about a second Strictly announcement.

It also caught rival Piers Morgan off-guard - and tweeting gleefully at the thought of Dan with a fake tan and wearing sequins, he said: "My Christmas just came early…"

The pair are embroiled in a long-running feud triggered by competition over viewing figures when Piers hosted ITV's breakfast show rival Good Morning Britain.

Ignoring wind-up Piers, Dan said: “I am definitely excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified and a small part of me is considering going into hiding!

"My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows… Saturday Mash Up and Strictly. I did Saturday Mash Up this summer so… it’s time to embrace the sequins.”

10.Katie McGlynn

CORONATION Street star Katie McGlynn insists she has no expectations - other than hoping she doesn't fall over mid-dance.

The soap actress - currently starring in Hollyoaks - first shot to fame in BBC drama Waterloo Road, which she appeared in until 2013 - when she joined Corrie as Sinead Tinker.

She had a tragic end to the ITV soap, with her character being killed off after a devastating cancer storyline in 2019.

Katie will be forced to come face to face with her ex-boyfriend - professional dancer Giovanni Pernice who she was linked to back in 2017 - shortly after he split from her co-star Georgia May Foote.

Katie said: “It’s been so hard keeping it a secret, but I can finally say that I’m getting ready to shake my shimmy and become part of the Strictly family!

"I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.

"Although I do get to have so much fun as an actress, a lot of my roles have involved quite serious and challenging storylines, so I’m fully ready to let my hair down and do something different, even if it is completely outside of my comfort zone.

"I can’t promise that I’ll be the best, but I’m going to give it 110 per cent on the dance floor! As long as I don't fall over I'll be happy."

11.John Whaite

OVERWHELMED Bake Off winner John Whaite broke down in tears after announcing he'll dance in Strictly's first all-male partnership.

He said: "There will be kids watching thinking it’s OK to be who you are."

Photo The Sun
Photo The Sun

It comes after the BBC show's first female pairing Katya Jones and Nicola Adams went down a storm with viewers last year.

The English baker rose to fame after winning The Great British Bake Off's third series in 2012.

He works as a chef, television presenter and author, but believes he “was born to be on that dance floor”.

John said: “I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family. I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth.

"What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion.

"Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”

Who are the Strictly 2021 professional dancers?

Anton Du Beke has finally departed the professional lineup, but won't be moving far as he's now one of the judges.

Janette Manrara has also left the pro lineup to become the co-host of BBC Two spinoff series It Takes Two.

Replacing them will be four new professional dancers - Jowita Przystal, Kai Widdrington, Nikita Kuzmin and Cameron Lombard.

The dazzling new dancers hail from all across the globe: South Africa, Ukraine, Poland and the United Kingdom.

12.Rose Ayling-Ellis

EASTENDERS star Rose Ayling-Ellis is Strictly's first ever deaf contestant.

She wants to shatter all the stereotypes of people with no hearing by taking home the glitterball.

And the 26-year-old is no stranger to making history since playing Frankie Lewis, who is also the soap’s first deaf character

Setting her sights on winning the series, Rose said: “To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary. It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open!

"I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me!”

13.Rhys Stephenson

CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson will be quick-stepping onto our screens this series hoping to impress - just like his fellow children’s TV host Karim Zheroual, who was a finalist in 2019.

Rhys started his presenting career in 2013 on his university’s television channel, Smoke TV, and in the same year he went on to perform alongside Matt Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes after joining the National Youth Theatre.

Rhys said: “I am BUZZING to be a part of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation.

"I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am READY!”

14.Sara Davies

DRAGONS' Den star Sara Davies is hoping she'll end her Strictly stint with dance skills as good as she thinks they are when she's had a drink.

The businesswoman, 37, says being on Strictly "felt like a pipe dream" after watching the show since the first series.

She's also looking forward to working off her "mum tum" after hours of hard graft in training.

Other than doing ballet as a little girl, Sara is a novice - and keen to take on a whole new challenge with her entrepreneurial spirit.

Sara said: “My Mam and Dad are going to be so excited. I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance. Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.

"The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dancefloor. And I’m excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum tum!”

15.Ugo Monye

Photo BT
Photo BT

RUGBY Union star Ugo Monye is going to tackle his latest challenge by trying to get his hands on the glitterball after being signed up for this year’s Strictly.

Quickstepping ex-England winger Ugo, 38, will tackle the tango, the waltz and the foxtrot when the hit BBC show returns in the autumn.

He is going to be announced on The One Show officially tonight, but The Sun revealed his signing last month.

Who was the winner of Strictly 2020?

Champion of the last series of Strictly was comedian Bill Bailey, who many viewers had wrongly assumed would be the joke contestant of the 2020 series.

However, no one took training more seriously than Bailey, who offered us some iconic routines with partner Oti Mabuse – including his popular couple’s choice dance to Rapper’s Delight.