Strictly returns with new celebs and a South African-born judge

The sequins and sultriness are back on our screens! There’s a whole new line-up of celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing on BBC Brit. 

Soap stars, TV and radio presenters, professional sportsmen and a viscountess are some of the celebrity contestants who are strutting their stuff in the Strictly ballroom in Season 17. Fans have been waiting to find out which professional dancer each celebrity will be paired with on their journey towards winning the Glitterball trophy!

A new judge brings her own sparkle

There’s a newcomer to the judging panel this season! Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli return, together with glamorous presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman. But after seven years on the show, retired ballerina Darcey Bussell has stepped down as a judge. She has been replaced by Motsi Mabuse, a professional dancer from Pretoria who has been judging the German version of the show since 2011. Motsi says she’ll bring her “own bit of sparkle” to the competition.

Here are the pairings:

Ladies

  • TV presenter Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton
  • Former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
  • EastEnders star Emma Barton and Anton du Beke
  • Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaž Škorjanec
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
  • YouTube star Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard

Gents

  • Comedian Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer
  • Former England goalkeeper David James and Nadiya Bychkova
  • BBC Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell
  • Former Olympic rower James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk
  • CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
  • BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
  • Paralympian Will Bayley and Janette Manrara

More news from the ballroom

This season, South African dancer Johannes Radebe, who joined SCD last year, will dance with a celebrity partner for the first time – Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, who has described her current dance skills as similar to those of Mr Bean. “Catherine doesn’t have to worry at all; I will turn her into a princess on the dance floor. I’m very excited,” says Johannes.

YouTube star Saffron Barker is the youngest contestant in the history of the show – she’s 19 years old.

The winner of the previous series, BBC documentary presenter Stacey Dooley, made an appearance at the season premiere, returning with her dance partner and now boyfriend Kevin Clifton to remind fans why they deserved to win. If this couple is anything to go by, there will be more of that much-talked-about chemistry between dance partners on SCD.

What the contestants say

The oldest contestant, 60-year-old broadcaster Anneka Rice, says she hasn’t danced since she was seven years old. “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.” Rower James Cracknell says he is “absolutely petrified” and wonders if dad dancing is a proper dance? Let the cha-cha begin!

Watch Strictly Come Dancing S17 on Sundays on BBC Brit (120) at 19:00