BBC BRIT’s cherished dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing, is back for a 17th season this autumn with a brand new judge, new professional dancer and exciting new line-up of celebrity hopefuls, all competing for that coveted glitter ball trophy.
Team South Africa
For the first time in Strictly Come Dancing history, there will be two South African pros on the line-up.
Oti Mabuse was born in Pretoria and began dancing in South Africa as a young child along with her sister, who is a judge on the German version of Strictly. Oti moved to Germany to push herself as she was the eight-time South African Latin American Champion and wanted new challenges. She has achieved many titles in her dancing career including World European Latin semi-finalist and World Cup Championship semi-finalist. Oti joined the show in 2015, in 2016 she reached the final with Danny Mac in 2016 and last year she made it to Blackpool with Paralympian Jonnie Peacock.
Johannes Radebe is from Sasolburg and is a two-time Professional South African Latin Champion and three time South African Amateur Latin Champion. He is a dancer with the Afro Arimba Dance Company and has also been a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing South Africa for two seasons, both times reaching the final.
He said: "Joining Strictly Come Dancing is one of the greatest achievements of my dancing career. It is such an honour to be chosen to be a part of an incredible cast and be part of one of the biggest shows that is celebrated worldwide. I cannot wait to get started and experience the magic with the UK!"
Alex Scott MBE is a sports pundit, presenter and former professional footballer. The former Arsenal captain is a well-regarded pundit for BBC and Sky Sports and a regular on BBC’s Match Of The Day. Alex signed with Arsenal aged eight and stayed with the team for most of her career. Alex helped the club achieve a domestic double of the FA Women’s Cup and the FA Women’s Premier League. While playing for England, Alex travelled the world playing football, also representing Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. When she retired in 2017, Alex was the second most capped England player with 140 appearances. Alex says: “I am absolutely buzzing to be signed up to Strictly. It’s the show I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t believe I’m finally going to be part of it. I’m super excited, but also terrified at the same time… The football pitch is a bit less glam than the ballroom, but I’m ready to try the sequins and dresses! Bring it on!”
Anneka Rice is an award-winning broadcaster. Anneka shot to fame in this country as the Sky-Runner in Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt. Anneka says: “I haven’t danced since I was seven and Miss Beer sent me home from my ballet class because I was hopelessly uncoordinated. My family and friends haven’t seen me dance since, not at a wedding or round a handbag so it’s going to be a challenge for my partner. In fact I’ve asked for two, one on each side. I can’t see myself in a long frilly dress either. But I’m feeling recklessly excited. Strictly has always been my Autumn’s entertainment and now I’m part of it! My children will probably leave the country”.
Catherine Tyldesley is an actress, best known for playing Eva Price on the ITV Choice soapie Coronation Street from 2011 to 2018. Catherine says: “I’m thrilled to be a part of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. I’m a huge fan of the show. It’ll be my biggest challenge to date as I’m not much of a dancer, but I’ve always wanted to learn the skill and the time feels right! I’m nervous as hell but super excited to work with such talented professionals. Hold onto your jazz shoes... mine is sure to be a bumpy/clumsy/fun ride!”
Chris Ramsey is a critically acclaimed stand-up comedian and regular face on TV. Chris says: “I’m both excited and absolutely terrified to be doing the show. You will not find me on the dance floor at parties, you will find me at the buffet table. All night. At my wedding I danced with my wife; that one song took about six months practice, and I definitely stood on her feet a couple of times. So I’m looking forward to the possibility of making a fool of myself in front of millions of people… there better be a buffet after the live shows.”
David James MBE is a former England number one goalkeeper. Starting his career at Watford he went on to play for a number of clubs including Liverpool, He amassed 53 caps for his country over an international career spanning 13 years and was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to football and charity. David says: "I'm really excited to be on Strictly this year. Not just competing against this year's stars, but being compared to previous sport stars from previous Strictly seasons. I have some big shoes to fill, #LetsGetLive"
Dev Griffin is a radio presenter and DJ. Best known for presenting on BBC Radio 1, Dev began his career in children’s television. He currently hosts the popular weekend show. Dev says: “I just can’t believe I’m doing Strictly, it just doesn’t feel real yet! It’s going to be so much fun, but just to be clear, I’m not doing this to take part, I’m totally in it to win it! I can’t wait to meet my partner and start practicing.”
Emma Barton is best known for playing Honey Mitchell on the BBC BRIT hit soapie EastEnders. Emma has been part of many memorable storylines including Honey’s weddings and failed marriage to Billy Mitchell. Emma says: “As possibly one of the biggest Strictly fans on the planet, I still can’t believe this is happening. I’m very much a dance around your handbag kinda girl, but now I've been given this wonderful opportunity to learn all the different styles of dancing from the very best in the business. So, I’m whipping off Honey's Minute Mart tabard and diving right in to all the glitter and sparkle. From Albert Square to the Strictly dance floor - I just can’t wait!”
Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth is a businesswoman, chef, model and philanthropist. Following her marriage in 2013 to Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, Emma became the chatelaine of the Longleat Estate in Wiltshire, England. Emma was born in London in 1986 to a British mother and Nigerian father and was raised in South Kensington. Viscountess Emma Weymouth says: “I absolutely love watching Strictly every weekend and I can’t believe that I’m getting the chance to be on this series. I know it will be such an amazing experience from start to finish. I can’t wait for the dancing and the fabulous outfits!”
James Cracknell OBE, is a former rowing World Champion and double Olympic Gold Medallist. James won Olympic Gold in both the 2000 Sydney Games alongside Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent and the 2004 Athens Games. Since retiring James has carried out dangerous and gruelling challenges including The Race Across the Atlantic, where he and Ben Fogle finished first, and the Yukon Arctic Ultra, cycling over 430 miles in the race across the frozen Alaskan countryside becoming the highest placed Briton ever finishing 12th. James says: “I’m really looking forward to being a part of Strictly this year. Having spent so many years mucking around in a rowing boat with big men in tight lycra, it’s time I learned a new skill. I need to apologise to my kids in advance for the embarrassment.”
Jamie Laing is a television personality and businessman. Jamie hosts the podcast Private Parts alongside actor-comedian Francis Boulle. Jamie has also appeared on popular BBC Lifestyle series The Great British Bake Off and the award-winning television series Made In Chelsea since 2011. Jamie says: "I am beyond thrilled to be asked to be on Strictly, the only person potentially more thrilled is my mother. I have finally become the son she hoped for!”
Karim Zeroual is a children’s television presenter on CBBC. Karim has been a CBBC presenter since 2014, presenting directly from the CBBC HQ as well as numerous other titles, including BBC Young Dancer and Wimbledon Live. Karim is currently filming a brand new travel and sport documentary for CBBC called A Week To Beat The World, in which he takes three British kids to countries like Guatemala, Brazil and Japan to play the national sports and see if they can beat the locals at their own game. Karim says: “To be offered the chance to take part in Strictly is dumbfounding, I’m pinching myself…! I’m so excited to be Strictlified. I want THE LOT. The skimpiest of clothes, the widest of flares, the brightest of colours and the tallest Cuban heel a guy can find! The more flamboyant the better… sequins galore please!!”
Michelle Visage is an American singer, television host, radio DJ, and media personality. Michelle is most well-known for being a member of the band Seduction and appearing as a judge on the American reality competition television series RuPaul's Drag Race since season three and on all seasons of the spin-off show RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars. Michelle will appear on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, which is set to air on BBC BRIT in 2020. Michelle says: “Getting to do Strictly in my favourite place on Earth is an actual DREAM! I'm so excited to show that being 50 doesn't mean life stops. Things may not work like they did when I was 20, but 50 also means 'FABULOUS!' There are plenty of women like me out there who still 'got it' and we still 'plan to use it!' so slap on the sequins, point me to the dance floor and watch me Paso my Doble!”
Mike Bushell is a sports presenter. Mike presents the main sports bulletins of the day on BBC Breakfast, as well as profiling main stream sports events from the Olympics, Paralympics, the Winter games and Football World Cups. Mike says: “I am so excited to be joining this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve heard so many wonderful things from colleagues over the years so thrilled I’m now getting the chance. I know I will completely throw myself into the whole experience and I’m sure will love it from start to finish. I may have tried and profiled over 500 sports over the years in my Saturday morning BBC Breakfast slot but think the Strictly challenge could be the greatest. Bring on the glitter!”
Saffron Barker is a social media star. At 19-year-old she already has over four million followers across her combined social channels and averaging 15 million views a month on her YouTube channels. In 2017 Saffron’s book Saffron Barker Vs Real Life reached number one on the Sunday Times bestsellers list. Saffron says: “I am really excited to go on the Strictly journey and am feeling very grateful for the opportunity! I’m looking forward to learning all of the dances, finding out who my partner is, getting to wear the costumes and to just experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Will Bayley MBE is a World Table Tennis Paralympic champion. In January 2017 Will was awarded an MBE for services for Table Tennis and is currently training to defend his Paralympic title at the Tokyo 2020 games. Will has suffered from arthrogryposis since birth, a rare condition which affects all four of his limbs. Will is classified as a Class 7 Paralympic athlete and was one of the stars of London 2012 and Rio 2016 games, winning consecutive silver and gold medals. Will says: “I’m so proud to be on the show, it’s my family’s favourite show. I have no dance experience at all, but I hope I can do well. I want to inspire people with a disability - that would mean a lot to me. I want to prove to people I can do this.”
Bruno Tonioli has worked with some of the biggest and best names in the industry such as Elton John, Duran Duran, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney to name but a few! He splits his time between London and Los Angeles to record both Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars, two of the most successful shows either side of the Atlantic. In 2015, he also served as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars in Australia.
Craig's work has taken him all over the world and along the way he has picked up a prestigious Olivier Award for his work on the West End musical Spend, Spend, Spend. Craig is constantly on the go choreographing and directing new stage projects - including the Strictly Live Arena Tour every year. Craig has also judged on the New Zealand version of Strictly Come Dancing. Craig was born in a sleepy Australian town called Ballarat and when he was old enough, he moved away from his hometown to the bright lights of Melbourne where his dance career began. He appeared in productions including West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles, Me and My Girl and many more. He eventually headed to Europe where he joined the Lido Du Paris as a dancer in Panache and then as principle singer in Formidable at the Moulin Rouge, finding himself a year later in the UK tour of Cats in Edinburgh and Dublin. Craig also appeared in the original concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar. In the West End, Craig has performed in Cats, playing the part of Munkustrap, Miss Saigon and was an original cast member playing the part of Harry in Crazy For You. Craig has recently returned to his performing roots, playing Miss Hannigan in Annie. Craig has directed numerous stage shows including most recently the hugely successful tour of Sister Act and the new Dusty Springfield musical Son of a Preacher Man. Craig is now in his 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Motsi Mabuse, judge on Let’s Dance (the German version of Strictly Come Dancing) and professional dancer, has been confirmed as the new judge replacing former ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell. Originally from Pretoria, South Africa, Motsi is a former South African Champion and German Latin Champion in 2009 and 2010. Motsi has been a judge on Let’s Dance in Germany since 2011, after joining the show in 2007 as a professional dancer. Sister to professional dancer and cherished Strictly star Oti Mabuse, Motsi was expected to become a lawyer and join the family law firm but her passion for dance took over whilst she was studying at the University of Pretoria. Motsi Mabuse says: “I am absolutely overjoyed to be joining the Strictly judging panel. I have so much respect and admiration for the other three judges and hope to add my own bit of sparkle to the show. I can’t wait to get started!”
Head Judge Shirley Ballas is a British-born ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach who joined Strictly last year. Originally from Wallasey, Shirley is a former British Open to the World Champion and European, German, United Kingdom, United States and International Latin American Champion. She retired from competitive dancing in 1996. Shirley is now an acclaimed and respected international coach to many of the top professional and amateur dancers as well as a highly renowned sought-after adjudicator for ballroom and Latin American competitions judging all around the world. Nicknamed the ‘Queen of Latin’, Shirley is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world. She is three-time British Open to the World Latin American Champion, 10-time United States Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.
Tess returns to co-present another series of Strictly Come Dancing. She has the role of introducing the dances and probing the judges for their comments, whilst co-host Claudia Winkleman hosts the post-dance interviews with each couple. After working around the world as a model and before landing her role on Strictly Come Dancing, Tess presented many other TV shows including the Royal Variety Performance.
Claudia Winkleman returns as co-host of Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly and will be providing first-hand reactions from the couples hot off the dance floor in the ‘Clauditorium’. Claudia is a firm favourite with the Strictly audience, she has co-presented the Sunday night results show alongside Tess Daly since 2010. In 2015, Claudia was named Best Entertainment Presenter at the Royal Television Society Awards for her work on Strictly Come Dancing and has twice been nominated for Best Entertainment Performance at the Bafta TV Awards. Claudia will hosts a new show coming to BBC Lifestyle Britain’s Best Home Cook and also previously presented one of BBC Lifestyle’s most popular shows The Great British Sewing Bee.