Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special: Which celebrities are taking part? Who are the couples? When is it on TV? All you need to know

The glitterball is back for Christmas – find out who’s taking to the dancefloor this year.

By Katie Archer Published: 28 November 2019 - 4.37pm

Christmas TV

Reality TV
BBC Strictly Come Dancing 2019 logo

Strictly Come Dancing might crown its winner just before Christmas, but luckily fans of the BBC show still get a festive treat in the form of a one-off special.

This year’ line-up of six former stars of the contest includes Gemma Atkinson – but will she be dancing with real-life partner Gorka Marquez?

Here’s all you need to know about the special episode.

When is the Strictly Christmas special on TV?

As usual, the Strictly ballroom will be gracing our screens on Christmas Day on BBC One.

The exact schedule slot hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s usually around teatime and the glittering studio is the perfect setting for a Christmas Day instalment.

Who are the celebrities taking part? Who are the couples?

We’ll see return appearances from six former favourites – but as previous years have shown, how each celebrity did in their original series doesn’t necessarily predict their success at Christmas.


Chizzy Akudolu

Chizzy Akudolu Rex

Partner: Graziano Di Prima

Best known for her role in Holby City, Chizzy Akudolu was a contestant in Strictly 2017 with Pasha Kovalev and is back for another shot at the trophy.

She said: “I am so excited to be coming back to Strictly this year, and being able to get back on the dancefloor once again! I’m still the biggest fan of Strictly so it’s wonderful to be back with old friends, in front of and behind the camera, and hopefully some new ones for Christmas.

“Bring on the sparkle, and maybe an odd 10 - it is Christmas after all…!”


Debbie McGee

Debbie McGee Rex

Partner: Kevin Clifton

The lovely Debbie McGee was a favourite contestant of recent years and just missed out on the win in Strictly 2017 with Giovanni Pernice.

Magician’s assistant Debbie said: “I thought all my dreams came true two years ago when I was asked to do the series, but to be one of the rare people to be invited back to do the Christmas Special is the icing on the cake.

“I can't wait to be back dancing with my Strictly family.”


Gemma Atkinson

Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez Rex

Partner: Gorka Marquez

Many Strictly contestants say taking part changed their lives, but it’s especially true for former soap star Gemma Atkinson who met her partner Gorka Marquez during the 2017 series and had a baby with him this year.

The festive special will finally see the real-life couple paired on the dancefloor.

Originally paired with Aljaz Skorjanec, Gemma said: “I had the absolute best time on Strictly and it completely changed my life so I am absolutely overjoyed to be returning to the dancefloor this Christmas with a new challenge, and of course to be back with the gang!”


Joe Sugg

Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg Rex

Partner: Dianne Buswell

In last year’s series, YouTuber Joe Sugg was one of the surprise finalists and although he didn’t win the Glitterball, he did find a new girlfriend in dance partner Dianne Buswell.

They’re dancing together again for Christmas, so they must have had plenty of time to practise.

Joe said: "I’m really excited to have a go on the strictly ballroom floor again this Christmas.

“Strictly feels like a home away from home for me so I will be giving it my best shot and ending the year on a high."


Mark Wright

Mark Wright Rex

Partner: Janette Manrara

Harking back to the 2014 series is former Towie star and radio DJ Mark Wright, who reached the final with Karen Hauer.

It’s a few years since he last learned a routine, but Mark is determined to do himself proud once more.

He said: “It’s been a while since I was on the dancefloor but I’m very much looking to forward to dusting off the dance shoes for Christmas! I can’t wait to be back - let’s get going!”


Richard Arnold

Richard Arnold Rex

Partner: Luba Mushtuk

Entertainment reporter Richard Arnold has had even longer away from the ballroom, as we first saw him compete in 2012 with Erin Boag.

He said: “I can’t wait to get back out on the dance floor and throw shapes beneath the glitter ball once again. I just can’t promise you’ll recognise them or that they’ll be in any particular order.

“What I can promise is that one of us will be a professional.”

How does the Christmas special work?

Each couple will perform just one dance during the episode, on a festive theme.

They’ll be judges by the current line-up of Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood, meaning that each celebrity will be meeting at least one judge for the first time.

Of course, hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be leading the show, but there’s no public vote this time as it’s pre-recorded – it will be down to the studio audience to decide who whose Christmas gift will be the Silver Star Trophy.

Strictly Christmas special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.