All That Glitters
Dust off your dancing shoes, Strictly Come Dancing is waltzing back to BBC One for its 17th series. The NTA and BAFTA award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios returns with more sparkle, glitz and glamour than ever.
As usual, the series will be presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman while the expert judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballas will be casting their judgement every week. This year, they will be joined by new judge Motsi Mabuse, who has been a judge on the German version of the show since 2011. Let's meet the new contestants for Strictly Come Dancing 2019 in their own words.
Alex Scott MBE
In 2012 I tweeted a picture of me at a photoshoot in a sequinned outfit saying "Strictly, I'm waiting for my call up"!
Strictly's another world to me. In football, if something goes wrong, I know how to correct it. But what happens if I forget the dance routine with millions of people watching live on BBC One? That fear keeps running through my head. I've always wanted to be a part of this so I will be devastated if I go home early on and end up watching later rounds from my sofa. I don't want it to end too soon. Yes, I'm a sportswoman – but I like to dress up also!
I guess now I'm not in football anymore, I'm after a new trophy in the cabinet!
I've decided in later life- to take up new challenges. So when the call came for Strictly, I thought this is a massive thing for me to do as I have never danced. When I was seven, I was sent home from my ballet lesson because I didn't fit in with the sugar plum fairy line up. It made me feel humiliated, and I never moved on. My family has never seen me dance, not at a wedding, not at a party, nothing. I don't do dancing.
I've recently had an accident and hurt my shoulder badly, just after I was signed up, so my life is now a round of massage and physio and shoulder experts. I never enjoyed dressing up as a child, so I can't imagine myself in a long dress at all!
I am a massive fan of the show. But I can't dance. I went to drama school but never had the confidence to take part in the dance classes. I was a lot bigger than I am now and I just didn't enjoy it. I now want to prove to myself I can do it.
Everyone has been so supportive and so excited. I don't think there's anybody I know who doesn't like Strictly, so everyone's thrilled. The costumes are breath-taking. I am a girly girl, so that's probably the thing I am most excited about. I can't wait to get glammed up every week. Hopefully, even if my dancing's terrible, my dress will look great!
Gemma Atkinson, Tina O'Brien, and Lisa Riley, friends of mine, have done said it was amazing. Obviously, Blackpool would be a dream as it was a huge part of my childhood, so my family would love it. Jason Manford and my Corrie friends want to come. My son's only four, and he's been watching all the old dances on YouTube, so I'm going to get him a sparkly waistcoat!
I'm the biggest Strictly fan so when they said, "we would love to have you this year" I thought, oh my goodness, you're learning an amazing craft from the best people in the business, and you get to dress up in the gorgeous costumes. It was a no-brainer, really.
I was going to buy some new bed linen but thought I should leave it as it will probably be turning orange all the time from the fake tan and glitter. A few of my EastEnders family have done it. I'm not competitive; I just think it's all about the journey, not the destination as long as I have the camaraderie that will make me happy. I play Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, so I am going to juggle filming that, as well as Strictly. Honey's not going anywhere; she's just swapping the tabard for a bit of sparkle for now.
Viscountess Emma Weymouth
It's a dream come true to be on Strictly. I was honoured to be offered a place in the line-up. I passionately love dance, and I cannot wait to be taught by fantastic professionals. I'm 5'8, so I want a tall dancer who is strong, obviously for the lifts and all the technical and fearless moves. I love the outfits because they are so brilliantly made so I hope I can do them justice.
My family is my priority with my two little boys, and I usually am very busy with commitments at Longleat. I want to train as much as I physically can. It's part of the discipline, part of the challenge and part of the experience. For sure, my family, my husband and my mum will be there.
I turned 50, and I have done many things in my life, but I have never ballroom danced. I cannot believe I'm doing Strictly! We obviously need to have a laugh to get through eight-hour rehearsals (we also need deodorant!). I truly, with all my heart, hope I make it to Blackpool. Do I think I could win? I think I can do anything I set my mind to do, we all can! Now let's see what my feet think... Everything in my life will be put on hold (apart from being a mommy obviously). I am taking this very seriously.
I am used to be Strictlified! I wear the hair, the lashes, the sequins and glitter on a daily basis (I am a female drag queen after all) so I will be in my comfort zone! My hubby of 22 years, David is so excited for me, and so are my kids. Because of all the secrecy, I haven't really told anyone apart from my hubby, RuPaul and my BFF Leah Remini who are all over the moon excited for me and will come to watch and support.
The reaction has been crazy. It's been even bigger than I expected, and the support has been incredible. My nan has been calling me every single day – she's cried a lot and told me she's very proud. She keeps telling me to sing the song 'I Have Confidence' from the Sound of Music to boost my confidence. When she was younger, she wanted to be a dancer, but her family only had enough money to send one of her sisters to dance classes, so she has told me I'm living her dream, which is really special.
Joe Sugg told me just to enjoy the moment. The dresses, the tan, the glitz, the glam … It's a dream. My family will definitely come and watch and my friends too. I was speaking to James from The Vamps, and he would like to come too. I can't believe it's actually happening.
When my manager told me they'd asked if I wanted to do Strictly, I said "oh my God, yes!" I'm also looking forward to the spectacle of the whole thing; the live shows, the crowd, the costumes… I've never had a full spray tan before.
I'm looking forward to turning that up to ten. Maybe I'll do a Ross from Friends.
My dad has an obsession that I need to get really fit. He keeps warning me the dancers will be fit as a fiddle. He's like Mickey, the coach from Rocky. I hope my son likes it. He's only three and has been singing the Strictly theme tune around the house!
David James MBE
I've only ever done charity shows like Sports Relief. However, only three people were told about Strictly- my mum, my partner and my good friend, Mark Foster who told me how much he enjoyed the show, so I changed my mind. I love a challenge!
I don't know what to expect and, am sure it will be much tougher than I think, but I am doing my best to prepare. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone, the training, and getting dressed up. I am totally out of my comfort zone. However, if I set my mind to something, I do it. I am ultra-competitive, to a fault. I will still plan to go all the way; it is a competition after all. I didn't realise how many of my family and friends watch the show. They are all looking forward to it.
When I was first asked to be a part of this year's line-up, I thought that this would definitely be one to tell the Grandkids! I know it's going to be challenging, but it was too much of a fun opportunity to turn down. You can't blag Strictly, you have to put the hard work in, and I am fiercely competitive. I'm playing to win!
My team at Radio 1 have been incredibly supportive, letting me have time off from the show. I started my career in Children's TV, so when it comes to embarrassing outfits, I have already worn the T-shirt. There is nothing you can put me in that would make me look more ridiculous to what I've already worn!
James Cracknell OBE
I thought it was about time I learned to dance and ditch my rowing lycra. But it seems I'll be wearing more lycra than when I was rowing! I'm just incredibly nervous, but I keep telling myself 'what's the worst that can happen'? I'll have no problem being ripped apart, sorry I should say being constructively criticised by my dance partner. I'm happy to be bossed around by someone who knows what they're doing so I can learn.
I am permitting myself to fail, and that's a real challenge for me. I have lots of mates who have done Strictly in previous years. I think I'm there for a good time, not a long time, which I'm sure my kids will be delighted about. I reckon the sequins and fake tan will be the least of my worries. I'm really keen to show people that there is a dancer in each of us, even in someone like me with two left feet. The first people I told were Bev and the kids. Bev's been really supportive, and the kids were unsurprisingly mortified - but then they've seen my dance floor moves so I can't blame them.
First of all, it's my mum's favourite show as it makes her really happy so she screamed and will actually watch it! Secondly, I always want to challenge myself. I want to learn to dance! My mum will be there – hopefully my little sister and Spencer and Proudlock. I really want to win Strictly – and that's what I'm going to try to do.
Pixie Lott said, "I have done lots of live shows since I was super young, but Strictly was the scariest thing." I said, "now I'm just terrified." I love spray tans; I love glitter, so I can't wait. Someone once told me life is just juggling things - which is what I'm going to do – hopefully, I won't drop anything!
I've always been a fan of the show. I watched it with my mum. Everyone has been so excited. I've never done anything like Ballroom, Latin, Salsa or the Tango. I'm excited to train and get a good routine together – and then all I can do is do my best to impress the judges and the audience.
I am here to work hard. I'm going to carry on presenting at CBBC – so I'm going to be juggling that with Strictly. I grew up with music, so there's rhythm in my bones. Any street dance! But I'm not sure how Craig would respond to that. My CBBC friends are so excited. I do live TV for a living – and of course, mistakes happen all the time on kids TV. But I am competitive! I want to go for gold.
Strictly has always been one of my favourite shows, it's been one of the biggest on British TV for the last decade. I have a lot of BBC breakfast colleagues who have already done Strictly, and two of them won -so no pressure there. Carol Kirkwood and Naga Munchetty said, "please just go and enjoy it, put a smile on your face and don't worry about it too much". I'm 5'5, so I'm vertically challenged. I will say to whoever gets me; it will be a privilege to get any of them. I've never been that good at sport; I've never been good enough to win things - except for the odd raffle!
Will Bayley MBE
I want to fly the flag for disabled athletes – Jonnie Peacock and Lauren Steadman have done so amazingly on the show, and I want to carry that on. I want to inspire others. I was born with a condition called Arthrosis; it affects all four of my limbs and the muscles around them. It's really difficult to build muscle and keep muscle. It affects my hands and my feet, so dancing is going to be really challenging.
Until I joined the Paralympic team, the only person I knew who was similar to me was my mum. I remember meeting Lee Pearson, a champion dressage rider who also has Arthrosis. It was the first time I can remember that I wasn't embarrassed or ashamed of my disability. He won loads of gold medals, and I was telling anyone who'd listen that I had the same disability as him. I felt proud.
So I need to do it. I want kids with Arthrosis or similar conditions to be able to look up to someone and see them dancing. I would have liked that when I was a kid. I've never ever danced. I'm going to struggle and yet I'm really looking forward to it. I know I'll be working with amazing, talented dancers and I know I can learn a lot from them.
I struggle to find shoes because of the shape of my feet, but I've spoken to the costume team, and they're going to see how they can help me. I know Jonnie Peacock found it really tough. I have so much support from the guys. They know it takes a lot of bottle to do this – especially when you have this sort of condition. A few of my friends couldn't believe I was doing it - they know I fall over just when walking down the street, yet I'm going to put myself up in front of millions of people and dance! I know they are rooting for me.
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