Strictly Come Dancing 2021 – everything you need to know

Sequins at the ready, we’re heading back to the ballroom for a 19th season. Here’s everything you need to know before the biggest show of the year makes its return.

By Katie Archer Published: 4 June 2021 - 3.50pm
BBC Strictly Come Dancing logo

We might only have Strictly on our screens for a few short months of autumn and winter, but any fan of the show can tell you it’s Strictly fever year-round.

The rumour mill is always churning for possible celebrity contestants, gossip about the pro dancers, and who the judging panel might include.

Keep track of all the latest ballroom dramas in the run-up to the series launch with our guide to everything you need to know.

When is Strictly Come Dancing back on TV?

Anton Du Beke BBC

In recent years, it’s been traditional for the new series of Strictly to launch towards the end of September.

Of course, last year things were a little different as we had a reduced series due to coronavirus, so the launch took place a month later in October.

However, we’re hoping to be back up to a full run in 2021, so at the moment we’ve got our eye on Saturday, September 25 as a potential launch date and December 18 as a possible grand final day.

Who are the judges and hosts for the 2021 series?

As far as we know, nothing is scheduled to change with the well-established hosting duo of Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

Head judge Shirley Ballas is returning to head up the panel, and in a recent This Morning interview she was clear that fans could expect judging favourite Bruno Tonioli back after his absence in 2020 when he was stuck in the US unable to travel internationally to take part.

Ballas said: "If he has to fly on the back of a pigeon to get there, he'll be back."

Strictly Come Dancing judges BBC

Craig Revel Horwood is expected to return to his long-running role as the panel’s Mr Nasty, and Motsi Mabuse is also expected back to complete the judges’ table.

Over on BBC Two spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two, host Zoe Ball has announced her departure.

She posted on Instagram: "Dance lovers, after 10 joyous years I am waltzing away from It Takes Two. As a massive @bbcstrictly fan I have loved spending my Autumn teatimes with the celebrity dancers, the gorgeous & awesome pro dancers, the judges, my girl Vicky Gill, Rylan, Gethin & of course my main man Ian Waite.

"Time now for some new cha-cha-challenges. I will continue to support the Strictly family on the Breakfast Show & can't wait to watch the Class Of 2021 from my sofa. Huge love & grateful thanks to Tess & Claude & the whole Strictly clan, the ITT fans, my Glam Squad, Eve Winstanley, Alex McLeod, the BBC2 gang, & of course the best telly crew ever. I will miss you all immensely. As Iveta would say 'Friends for the life'."

Who are the celebrity contestants?

It’s still early in the year for any confirmed celebrity dancers, but of course there have been many, many rumours already.

One of the most high-profile rumours was that Carrie Simmons, new wife of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, would be taking part, although Ballas put that suggestion firmly to bed in her interview on ITV's This Morning.

Leaping off the sofa to do a little dance, she said: "With a boom boom boom and a shimmy - no.”

Asked if that was definite, she said: “99.999 per cent. It is a family show, it's not a political agenda."

But Ballas added of the libe-up, which sounded like it had already been picked: "It's outstanding. You will be mesmerised, surprised, and really, really intrigued."

Meanwhile, pro dancer Giovanni Pernice has admitted Holly Willoughby is his dream contestant, and Gabby Logan revealed that Rio Ferdinand is asked pretty much annually to take part.

Which pro dancers are taking part?

The big news from the ranks of the show's professional dancers is that earlier this year fan favourite and reigning champion for the last two years Oti Mabuse has said that this will probably be her last series.

She told The Telegraph: "I love to dance and also I love bringing joy to so many people. But I think that will be the last one."

Elsewhere, Anton Du Beke will continue his streak as the only pro dancer to have appeared in every series of the show so far.

Strictly 2021: Who are the professional dancers?

Other pro dancers in the confirmed line-up include Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Janette Manrara, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones.

However, we’ll have to wait until nearer the time to find out who gets a celebrity partner and who is part of the extended dance troupe.

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.

Can you name all 18 Strictly Come Dancing champions?

By lifting the Glitterball Trophy at the age of 55, Bailey became the oldest ever winner of Strictly, while Mabuse became the first professional to win back-to-back series following her 2019 victory with Kelvin Fletcher.

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