Strictly Come Dancing 2020 contestants: Who are this year's celebrity dancers?

Strictly 2020 has finally hit the dance floor, and the competition is fierce. But who are this year's dancing dozen, who have they been paired with and how are they getting on?

By Alex Fletcher Published: 29 November 2020 - 9.47pm

We’ve been robbed of many things in 2020, but one show defying the global pandemic is Strictly Come Dancing.

The BBC is determined that we’ll have our regular helping of celebrity dancing to dazzle us on Saturday nights this autumn, which is fantastic news for the show’s millions of fans.

All 12 celebrities have now been revealed and they include the usual array of popstars, soap stars, former politicians and comedians.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman kicked off the first live show on Saturday, October 24, and a week later, on Halloween, the first couple were voted out of the competition. 

You can catch up with all the action on BBC and BBC iPlayer.

Strictly 2020 - Who are the judges?

Strictly 2020 - The full professional dancer lineup

Strictly's dancing couples for 2020

Because the series started later in the year than usual, only 12 couples will compete for the glitter ball:

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe - Eliminated in week 5

Clara Amfo and Aljaž Skorjanec - Eliminated in week 6

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice

HRVY and Janette Manrara

Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk - Eliminated in week 3

Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones - Withdrew before week 4

Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke - Eliminated in week 2

Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez

JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse

Max George and Dianne Buswell - Eliminated in week 4

Strictly Come Dancing 2020 celebrity contestants: The full cast

Rt Hon Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith BBC
Jacqui Smith

Famous for:  Former Home Secretary and political broadcaster.

Professional dance partner: Anton du Beke

Jacqui says: "I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly - and that’s very rare for me. Fifty years ago, I got a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing and it feels about time to return to dancing.

"I couldn’t be in better hands with the Strictly team and I’m going to throw myself into the challenge. Watch out!”

The former politician is best known as being the UK’s first female Home Secretary in 2007. Jacqui is now the Chair of the largest NHS trust in England in Birmingham and a Children’s Trust in Sandwell.

She has become a regular political commentator on TV and radio and also has a weekly award winning podcast called For the Many that she presents with broadcaster Iain Dale.

The last dance:  Eliminated in week 2. Jacqui and Anton finished bottom of the leaderboard with 13 points after their foxtrot to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life in week 1. They fared little better in week 2, picking up only 12 points for their samba to Tom Jones' Help Yourself. They faced Jamie and Karen in the dance-off, with all three judges choosing to give the Made In Chelsea star - who danced the American Smooth to Night and Day by Frank Sinatra - their vote.

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Popstar HRVY BBC
Popstar HRVY

Famous for: A popstar.

Professional dance partner: Janette Manrara

HRVY, real name Harvey Leigh Cantwell, said: "Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year. I think my mum is more excited that she’ll be able to see me every Saturday night now.”

21-year-old popstar HRVY has over a billion combined streams to his name and a social following of over 10 million globally. He has sold-out two UK and European tours including headline shows at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo and a now postponed London Palladium show, plus shows in Asia, Australia and America.

HRVY performed at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2019, has shared the stage with Jonas Blue at Capital FM’s Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball.

Born in Kent, HRVY first rose to fame after uploading his music videos to Facebook. He signed to Virgin EMI in 2017 and his debut album is out this year. He has previously presented on CBBC's Friday Download.

Maisie Smith

Maisie Smith BBC
Soap star Maisie Smith

Famous for: EastEnders actress

Professional dance partner: Gorka Marquez

"Get me in those sequins, I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter! This is a dream come true," said soap star Smith.

Maisie made her acting debut playing a young Elizabeth in feature film The Other Boleyn Girl alongside Scarlett Johansson and Eddie Redmayne.

That same year, Maisie stormed into Albert Square as Tiffany, daughter of Bianca and now member of the long established Butcher family.Maisie has won numerous awards for her portrayal of Tiffany including ‘Best Dramatic Performance from a Young Actress’ at the British Soap Awards and ‘Best Young Actor’ at the Inside Soap Awards.

As well as acting, Maisie has released two singles in 2016 and 2017 under an independent record label.

Jamie Laing

Jamie Laing BBC
Jamie Laing returns to Strictly for a second attempt

Famous for: Made In Chelsea star

Professional dance partner: Karen Hauer

TV personality and entrepreneur Jamie Laing was due to strut his stuff on the Strictly dancefloor last year, but a foot injury led to him quitting the competition two days before the launch show. His replacement, Kelvin Fletcher, went on to win the series, but Jamie's only ambition this year is to make the first week.

“Here we go again, hopefully this time I can last long enough so my mum can see me dance," he said.

"The reason I’m doing it is to make my mum proud but all I did last year was make her even more disappointed. Let’s change that this year, can’t wait!”

Jamie has appeared in the award-winning television series Made in Chelsea since 2011.

Following his debut on the show, Jamie starred in BBC Three’s Murder in Successville, Channel 4’s In Bed with Jamie and hosted his own Saturday show on Heat Radio. His podcast Private Parts, which he co-hosts with Francis Boulle, has featured guest such as Jack Whitehall and Elizabeth Day.

Earlier this year saw the launch of Jamie’s new BBC Sounds podcast 6 Degrees from Jamie and Spencer, which he co-hosts with Spencer Matthews. Jamie is an ambassador for the YoungMinds organisation and regularly supports children’s charity Barnardos and their work in fundraising events to help vulnerable children. Other credits include Channel 4’s Celebrity Hunted for Stand Up to Cancer and BBC One’s Comic Relief documentary Famous, Rich and Hungry. As well as his media presence, Jamie is also a successful businessman, having founded the sweets brand Candy Kittens in 2012.

Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey BBC
Bill Bailey is signed up for the new series of Strictly

Famous for:  Award-winning comedian, musician and actor

Professional dance partner: Oti Mabuse

"In these are strange times we're living through, it feels right to do something different and take on a new challenge," said Bailey.

"So I am delighted to be a part of this year's unique Strictly Come Dancing. My late mum Madrin would have loved it - I hope she'll be watching.”

Bill Bailey is a comedian, musician, author, documentary-maker and keen outdoors enthusiast best known for his live comedy and for the TV shows Black Books, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and QI.

Bill is constantly in demand as an internationally touring comedian, and his live shows always feature ingenious and original musical elements drawing on Bill’s skills as a classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist.

His unique ability to entertain and educate was brilliantly demonstrated in his award-winning show, Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra, where he performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

JJ Chalmers

JJ Chalmers BBC
JJ Chalmers

Famous for: Television presenter, former Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist

Professional dance partner: Amy Dowden

"My whole life is defined by facing challenges. Whether it's becoming a Royal Marine Commando, recovering from my injuries sustained in Afghanistan to competing in The Invictus Games," said Chalmers.

"Now as a TV presenter I'm lucky enough to witness some of the greatest sporting contests in the world. Strictly is a whole different ball game in respect to the challenges I will face but I'm up for an adventure and at least my mum will know where I am!”

JJ Chalmers is a TV presenter with a remarkable back story. The career of the former Royal Marine Commando was cut short after he suffered life-changing injuries following an IED explosion in Afghanistan.

After years of rehabilitation, JJ went on to compete in the 2014 Invictus Games where he captained the Trike Cycling team and took home three medals. As a spokesperson for this inaugural Invictus Games JJ got an insight into TV and embarked on a career in broadcasting.

He hit the ground running in 2016 with a studio presenter role for the Rio Paralympics and has anchored BBC One’s coverage of the Invictus Games since 2017. Other presenting highlights for BBC Sport include The Commonwealth Games and The London Marathon.

As part of the BBC's ceremonial team, JJ commentates on The Lord Mayor's Show and was involved in the D-Day 75 memorial programming in 2019. Other BBC credits include The One Show, BBC Breakfast, Getaways, The People Remember and Radio 5 Live’s From Helmand And Back. JJ is an ambassador for both Help For Heroes and The Invictus Games.

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams Strictly 2020 BBC
Nicola Adams Strictly 2020

Famous for: Olympic gold-medallist boxing champion

Professional dance partner: Katya Jones

Nicola will make Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the first celebrity to be part of a same-sex pairing.

The boxing champion, who is openly bisexual, was the one who suggested having a female partner when producers asked her to take part. She told BBC Breakfast: "I think it's really important. It's definitely time for change."

Of joining the line-up, she said: “I’m really excited to be joining this year’s incredible line-up for Strictly Come Dancing. I’m a huge fan of the show and am thrilled to be part of something that holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts.

"People might know me from my work in the ring, but I’ll be every bit as passionate and dedicated on the dance floor too. I also wanted to thank the BBC for supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing; and it’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”

Nicola became the first female amateur boxer to win an Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and by winning a second gold medal win at Rio 2016 she became the first female boxer to retain an Olympic title. Having also become World Amateur Champion in May 2016 she secured a grand slam of titles, and is the only female boxer in the history of the sport to have won every major title available to her: Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth.

In recognition of her services to boxing, Nicola was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list and made an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list.

She recently retired from the sport with an undefeated record and held the WBO female flyweight title in 2019.

The last dance: Sadly there was no farewell dance for Nicola and Katya. Four days after they survived the dance-off with the unanimous backing of the judges it was announced that because Katya had tested positive for Covid-19, the pair would have to pull out of Strictly 2020 and enter a 14-day isolation period.

"I’m absolutely devastated my Strictly journey has come to an end so soon. I had so much more to give and so many people to win this for!" Nicola told the BBC.

"I just want to say a huge thank you to Katya for being the best dance partner anyone could ask for. She pushed me way out of my comfort zone and it’s been an incredible experience."

The pair - the first same-sex couple to feature on Strictly - finished joint second on the leaderboard with 24 points in week 2 but slipped into the bottom two in Movie Week with their show-opening Greased Lightnin' routine.

"I'm devastated to leave this way but I've made a friend for life and loved every moment of this special journey," Katya added.

Clara Amfo

Clara Amfo Strictly 2020 BBC
Clara Amfo on Strictly 2020

Famous for: BBC Radio 1 DJ

Professional dance partner: Aljaž Skorjanec

Clara said: “As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy, so to be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dancefloor!”

Clara Amfo is a broadcaster best known for her 10am – 1pm show on BBC Radio 1, home of the Live Lounge. Her credits as a television presenter include One World: Together at Home (BBC One), ITV2’s coverage of The BRIT Awards and the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury Festival, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, and The Proms.

Clara is part of the Bafta TV Awards presenting team and is a recurrent presence on the judging panel for the Mercury Prize. She’s a regular on the red carpet, hosting European and world film premieres for Elton John’s Rocketman, The Crimes Of Grindelwald, Marvel’s Black Panther, Birds of Prey and The Royal European Premiere of Disney’s The Lion King.

Clara appeared on the September 2020 Activism Now cover of British Vogue, and was named as a contributing editor to Elle magazine. She is also the host of Sony Music and Spotify podcast This City.

The last dance: Clara & Aljaž ended Saturday night bottom of the leaderboard after making a few mistakes in their Jive to River Deep Mountain High by Tina Turner. Once the viewers' votes were added they were joined by Jamie & Karen in Sunday's dance-off.

After both couples had danced again - Jamie & Karen repeated their Tango while Clara & Aljaž redeemed themselves with a flawless Jive - Craig Revel Horwood voted to save the Radio 1 DJ while Motsi  Mabuse, back after two weeks away, saved Made In Chelsea star Jamie. For the first time this series, it was left to head judge Shirley Ballas to make the casting vote and she saved Jamie.

"Both couples totally lifted their game, but there was one couple they just convinced me, they believed in their performance," she explained.

Ranvir Singh

Ranvir Singh on Strictly 2020 BBC
Ranvir Singh on Strictly 2020

Famous for: Political Editor on ITV's Good Morning Britain

Professional dance partner: Giovanni Pernice

Ranvir said: “The initial feeling of being confirmed for Strictly is one of complete terror – feels like embarking on a rollercoaster, where you really want to do it but you are equally scared. Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!”

Ranvir was born and raised in Preston. Following her time at Lancashire University, she 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. As a regular newsreader on ITN news and anchor for ITV’s Tonight, 2019 was a very busy year for Ranvir, culminating in interviewing some of the top political leaders ahead of the General Election.

Ranvir has fronted several ITV primetime factual series including Eat, Shop, Save, and has co-presented The Martin Lewis Show Live. She also recently presented Loose Women. Alongside her television work, Ranvir has hosted various shows for BBC 5 Live.

Max George

Singer Max George BBC
Singer Max George

Famous for: Boyband star in The Wanted

Professional dance partner: Dianne Buswell

He becomes the second member of boyband The Wanted to take part in the dance competition and the pressure will be on George. His bandmate Jay McGuinness won the series with pro dancer Aliona Vilani.

Max said: "Buzzing to be on Strictly this year. Not really one for the dance floor, but I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jay McGuiness set The Wanted’s bar so low...”

Max shot to fame as a member of The Wanted. The band had two number one singles in the UK and reached the top 3 in the US Billboard charts. After The Wanted took a break, Max moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and starred in the sixth season of Glee as Clint. More recently he has returned to music as a solo artist.

The last dance: Max and Dianne were eliminated in week 4. For the first time in the 2020 series, the couple at the bottom of the leaderboard, JJ and Amy, avoided the dance-off after the viewers' vote. That left last-but-one couple Max and Dianne (20 points) facing Maisie and Gorka (24 points) in Sunday's finale. Also for the first time this year, the judges were split over who should stay - Craig and stand-in judge Anton de Beke saved Maisie before head judge Shirley Ballas revealed that she would have saved the Wanted singer. 

Max had been heard swearing on Saturday's show as he and Dianne finished their American Smooth to It Had To Be You, for which he and host Claudia Winkleman both apologised. After he was told he was leaving, he thanked professional partner Dianne for her hard work.

"I've loved it. It's all down to Dianne, she's been literally amazing. For me to get through 90 seconds of a dance for four weeks now is a credit to her, she's just unbelievable," he said.

Dianne had kind words for both Max and Anton, who is on the judging panel while Motsi Mabuse self-isolates after a visit to Germany.

"I know you always say you want to do me proud and oh my goodness you've done me more than proud, so well done. I also want to say thank you to the Judges, Anton you were incredible tonight. Thank you so much," she said.

Caroline Quentin

Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek star Caroline Quentin BBC
Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek star Caroline Quentin

Famous for: Actress in Men Behaving Badly, Jonathan Creek

Professional dance partner: Johannes Radebe

The award-winning actress and presenter was the first celebrity confirmed for the 2020 series.

"I am thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part", she said.

A broadcaster and national treasure, Caroline Quentin is well known for a wide range of acting roles including Maddie in Jonathan Creek, DCI Janine Lewis in Blue Murder, plus star roles in Kiss Me Kate, Life Begins and Life of Riley.

Best known for starring as Dorothy in hit sitcom Men Behaving Badly, Caroline has also presented a number of documentaries, as well as two very successful series of Extraordinary Homes for BBC Two. She recently performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2019.

The last dance: Caroline and Johannes had entertained on Saturday night with a hilarious Cha-cha-cha to Rescue Me by Fontella Bass featuring a fireman's uniform and a toy cat stuck in a tree. The judges rewarded them with their highest score of 24 points. 

In a highly competitive Blackpool Week, however, that score left them last but one on the leaderboard - six points ahead of Clara and Aljaz. Once the public votes were counted Caroline and Johannes ended up in the dance off against Maisie and Gorka, whose Salsa to Meghan Trainor's Better When I'm Dancing' had scored 27 points. For the second week in a row the judges saved the ex-EastEnder and Caroline's Strictly journey was at an end.

"I have had the honour and privilege of working with some of the greatest dancers this country has ever known," Caroline said once the elimination was confirmed, before paying tribute to her professional partner. "But of course my greatest gift coming on this show is this man."

Jason Bell

Jason Bell BBC
Jason Bell

Famous for: American Football star

Professional dance partner: Luba Mushtuk

Jason Bell was confirmed for the brand new series of Strictly Come Dancing on The One Show.

"Strictly is the epitome of British television and this year, more than ever, I’m so proud and humbled to be participating," said Bell.

"Strictly was the first show I ever watched when I moved to the UK and I’m a massive fan. My six-year-old daughter never got the chance to see me run out on the field at an NFL game but she is very excited about me taking to the dance floor. I hope I can do her proud."

A former professional American footballer, Jason played as a cornerback/safety in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He then played for the Houston Texans, where he was named a recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, one of the league's highest honors. He finished his professional career with the New York Giants.

Jason now co-hosts The Jason & Osi Podcast with fellow NFL alum Osi Umenyiora. Alongside Osi he presents the NFL Show on BBC.

He is also known for his relationship with Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle, who is the mother to his daughter Anaìya.

The last dance: Jason and Luba were eliminated in week 3's Movie Week, losing the dance-off to Nicola Adams and Katya Jones. After staying well clear of the bottom of the leaderboard in the first two weeks, Jason and Luba scored only 12 for their Paso Doble to John Williams' Star Wars theme. That put them a full seven points behind next-worst pair Nicola and Katya, and when the two pairs repeated their routines in the dance-off, all three judges saved Olympic boxing champion Nicola ahead of ex-American footballer Jason. 

Who are the Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers in 2020?

The professional line-up is… Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Janette Manrara, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk and Oti Mabuse.

Graziano Di Prima, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones will not have celebrity partners, but will be available as backup and as part of the group dance routines.

Former Strictly favourites Kevin Clifton and AJ Pritchard are not returning for the 2020 series.

All the former Strictly Come Dancing winners

2004 - Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole

2004 - Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett

2005 - Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova

2006  - Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy

2007 - Alesha Dixon and Matthew Cutler

2008 - Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup

2009 - Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan

2010 - Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev

2011 - Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani

2012 - Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace

2013 - Abbey Clancy and Aljaž Škorjanec

2014 - Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev

2015 - Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani

2016 - Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton

2017 - Joe McFadden and Katya Jones

2018 - Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Reigning Champions 2019 - Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse

When does Strictly Come Dancing start?

Strictly presenter Tess Daly BBC
Strictly presenter Tess Daly

Due to Coronavirus and restrictions on the cast and professional dancers, the celebrities didn't meet the pros on the dancefloor at the launch show, as in previous series.

Instead the partnerships were revealed in pre-recorded videos on Saturday, October 17.

The first live show aired on Saturday, October 24 and will Strictly will continue every Saturday night, with the results show on Sundays, until the fnal just before Christmas. 

Because of restrictions surrounding coronavirus, there will be no live edition from Blackpool's Tower Ballroom this year, but judging by the first few shows, none of the Strictly glitz and glamour we all love is lacking. 

Watch the live shows on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.