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: 27 July 2021 - 5.43pm
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 that Strictly fever runs all 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 Come Dancing 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. That should mean we find out the celebrity lineup and their professional dancer partners in August before a possible start date of Saturday, September 25 and a grand final day on December 18.

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 8th 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.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Meet the judges

Anton Du Beke is the new Strictly Come Dancing judge in 2021 BBC

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

She is being replaced by former professional dancer Janette Manrara.

Talking about her dream job on on the companion show, Manrara said on Instagram: "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining @rylan on #ItTakesTwo this series! A show where we can sit and talk about dancing?!? It’s the dream! I can never replace the legendary @zoetheball, but I can only hope to make her as well as all of the @bbcstrictly fans proud."

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Who are the Strictly 2021 celebrity contestants?

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

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants lineup: All the cast rumours

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 line-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.

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.

Strictly 2021: Who are the professional dancers?

Other pro dancers confirmed to return include: Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Graziano Di Prima, Johannes Radebe, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Luba Mushtuk, Nadiya Bychkova, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones.

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 winners?

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.