Strictly Come Dancing: Ex-rugby star Ugo Monye completes 2021 line-up

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Ugo MonyeImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ugo Monye won 14 England caps

Rugby player-turned-pundit Ugo Monye has become the 15th and final celebrity to be confirmed for the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Monye will join Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker, actress Nina Wadia and 11 other stars when the BBC show returns next month.

The former England player, soon to be seen as a team captain on A Question of Sport, said it was "a dream come true".

"I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins!" he went on.

The announcement came hours after the participation of Olympic gold medallist Peaty was revealed, along with that of comedian and Loose Women panellist Judi Love.

Media caption,

Adam Peaty: I'm going to be very uncomfortable on Strictly

The trio were the final celebrities to be named for the 19th series of Strictly, which will be the normal length after being slightly shorter in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic.

Bruno Tonioli will be absent from the judges' desk, replaced by long-serving professional dancer Anton Du Beke. Four new professionals have also been revealed.

Here are 2021's celebrity contestants in full:

Ugo Monye

The former Harlequins winger won 14 international caps for England and also played two Tests for the British & Irish Lions.

After retiring in 2015, he moved into the media and his Strictly signing comes weeks after he was named among a new line-up on the BBC's long-running A Question of Sport.

"Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can't wait to show everyone I've got more than just dad dancing moves," he said in a statement.

"My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me."

Adam Peaty

Swimmer Peaty will be hoping to follow the two gold medals he won at the recent Tokyo Olympics with Strictly's coveted glitterball trophy.

The 26-year-old won the 100m breaststroke in Tokyo, becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title. He also scooped gold in the mixed 4x100m medley relay and silver in the 4x100m medley relay.

"I'm not the most fluid on land," he told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat. "But, saying that, I am an athlete. I am used to working hard."

In a separate statement, Peaty said he was "really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool".

Judi Love

Judi Love is a TV presenter, stand-up comedian, online comedy star and OK! magazine columnist.

She said she had watched Strictly for years and "admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft".

She added: "I'm truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it's actually coming true!! I can't lie I'm soooo nervous but excited at the same time."

Rose Ayling-Ellis

The EastEnders actress, who has played Frankie Lewis in the BBC soap since 2020, is set to become Strictly's first deaf dancer.

"To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is so exciting and a little bit scary," she said in a statement. "I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers.

"But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill, and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me!"

Ayling-Ellis, who communicates using British Sign Language, made history by becoming the first deaf actor to play a deaf character in EastEnders' fictional Walford suburb.

Nina Wadia

Former EastEnders and Goodness Gracious Me actress Wadia admitted she was "so scared" when her name was added to the line-up.

"I like dancing like no-one's watching," she told ITV's Lorraine after she was revealed. "So we just need to blindfold the judges and I'm going to win," she joked.

Wadia played Zainab Masood (later Khan) in EastEnders between 2007 and 2013 and is also known for her role in BBC comedy Still Open All Hours.

"A lot has happened in the last couple of years, and I just want to grab life by the balls and enjoy it," she said.

Tilly Ramsay

The 19-year-old has more than 9.5 million followers on TikTok and is known for presenting CBBC's Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, which features her family - including her father, chef Gordon.

She said she "can't wait to get my dancing shoes on and show my dad how it's done".

He wished her well in a video when she was announced as a contestant on ITV's This Morning, signing off with the warning: "Don't date those dancers."

Asked if she thought she had an advantage by posting dance videos on social media, Ramsay replied: "Yeah, I guess that's true. You've got to learn them and you've got to remember them for the video, but luckily that's not live and you can do as many takes as you need."

Greg Wise

The actor rose to fame by playing John Willoughby in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, on which he met his future wife Dame Emma Thompson.

Wise also appeared in Cranford, played Lord Mountbatten in The Crown, and created the 2019 film Last Christmas with Dame Emma, whom he married in 2003.

He dedicated his Strictly appearance to his late sister Clare, with whom he wrote the book Not That Kind of Love.

"My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen," he said. "She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her."

Dan Walker

Dan Walker has been a regular presenter of BBC Breakfast since 2016, when he replaced Bill Turnbull.

He said on Tuesday he was "excited, a little bit worried, mostly terrified" about joining Strictly.

Keen sports fan Walker presented BBC Olympic Breakfast throughout this year's games. He also hosted Football Focus for 12 years and has covered many major events, including Wimbledon, the Grand National and Royal Ascot.

Other presenting roles have included The One Show and Songs of Praise.

He added: "My kids have only ever asked me to go on two shows… Saturday Mash Up and Strictly. I did Saturday Mash Up this summer so… it's time to embrace the sequins."

Katie McGlynn

Katie McGlynn meanwhile said she was getting ready "to shake my shimmy".

"I'm really not a dancer, but I'm so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way," she said.

The actress, who plays newcomer Becky Quentin in Hollyoaks, formerly starred as Sinead Tinker in Coronation Street. The role earned her a Bafta nomination and a National Television Award in 2020. She also featured in the BBC One drama series Waterloo Road and The Syndicate.

"A lot of my roles have involved quite serious and challenging storylines, so I'm fully ready to let my hair down and do something different, even if it is completely outside of my comfort zone," she added.

Sara Davies

Sara Davies, 37, became the youngest ever dragon on the BBC show's panel of entrepreneurs when she joined in 2019.

Known as the Den's "Crafting Queen", Davies started her business Crafter's Companion when she was still a student. It now employs nearly 250 people.

The County Durham-born entrepreneur said her "mam and dad are going to be so excited" about her joining Strictly.

"I'm really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance. Truth be told - I haven't got a clue! I've not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little."

She added: "The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dance floor. And I'm excited to see the impact of all those hours of training on my mum tum!"

Tom Fletcher

The singer and guitarist, who scored seven UK number one singles with McFly between 2004 and 2007, is taking to the dance floor exactly a decade after his bandmate Harry Judd lifted the coveted glitterball trophy.

Fletcher has also carved out a successful sideline as a children's author, and his family could do a unique reality TV double after wife Giovanna won I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! last year.

He said he was "incredibly excited" but also "totally terrified" to do Strictly. "My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen," he said. "I'm not sure how far they'll get me in the competition but I can't wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire."

AJ Odudu

The Blackburn-born presenter rose to fame hosting Big Brother's Bit on the Side in 2013, and has since appeared on shows like The Voice UK and Trending Live!.

In September, she will co-present a one-off revival of Channel 4's The Big Breakfast alongside comedian Mo Gilligan.

She said she was "beyond chuffed" to be on Strictly. "I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience," she said. "Bring it on!"

Robert Webb

The comic actor is best-known for his double act with David Mitchell in TV shows like Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Back. Like Fletcher, he has also become an author.

And Webb has form on the dance floor - he won Let's Dance For Comic Relief in 2009.

"It's a big, generous, joyful show and I can't wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman," he said.

Rhys Stephenson

Actor and children's TV presenter Stephenson is best known as the face of children's television channel CBBC, which he hosts live from the channel's Salford HQ.

He has presented such CBBC shows as Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up! and is an ambassador for children's mental health charity Place2Be.

"I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig's glare," he said of his participation in Strictly. "I am ready!"

The actor and children's TV presenter added he was already "impatient to take part" after being unveiled on Friday morning's Newsround news bulletin.

"I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact it is going to exceed every expectation," he said.

John Whaite

Whaite is a chef, TV presenter and cookery author. He won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012 at the age of 23.

Since then he has presented TV shows and has a cooking segment on Steph's Packed Lunch on Channel 4.

He has also published five cookery books and runs his own cookery school, John Whaite's Kitchen.

"I'm so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family," he said. "I've been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can't wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on Earth."

Whaite will be part of the show's first all-male partnership. He will follow in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who was the first celebrity to have a same-sex partner last year.

The 2012 Bake Off winner described his partnership as "a great step forward in representation and inclusion".

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