Grab your sequins. Dust down your paddles. And get ready to confidently pass off opinions you’ve heard the judges say before as your own. Strictly. Is. Back!
By Simon Ward, Content Editor
Note: TV channels are currently subject to wholescale schedule changes.
The familiar brass purr of the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune announces that wonderful time of the year when you no longer need Saturday night plans or, let’s be honest, friends. From now until Christmas (eeek, Christmas!), every week your guilt-free Saturday teatime blueprint is the same. Grab a glass of fizz. Hit the sofa. Watch celebrities hurl themselves around a dancefloor. High-five yourself on your excellent life choice.
After two years of Strictly lite (reduced or no audiences, no trip to the iconic Blackpool Ballroom), we’re getting full-blown Strictly as nature intended. Fab-u-lous!
Following the departure of the happiest man in the world Aljaž Škorjanec and the Strictly GOAT Oti Mabuse (that’s a fact!), we’re getting four new pro dancers in European cup winner Vito Coppola, Chinese national champion Carlos Gu, former Under-21 British national champion Lauren Oakley and Latin dance champion Michelle Tsiakkas.
They join returning favourites Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Amy Dowden, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, Cameron Lombard, Gorka Márquez, Luba Mushtuk, Giovanni Pernice (last year’s winner with Rose Ayling-Ellis), Jowita Przystał, Johannes Radebe, Kai Widdrington and Nancy Xu.
But who on earth are the celebrities brave enough to take part this year? The ones who only agreed to take part because they’d always secretly thought they’d suit a spray tan? The men and women who, right now, are wondering if they’ve made a terrible mistake and that dancing like nobody’s watching isn’t the same as dancing when everybody’s watching?
With the Strictly Come Dancing launch show on Friday 23 September at 7pm and the first live show on Saturday 24 September, both on BBC One HD (CH 101), we look at this year’s line-up and where they might finish…
In an official Strictly Come Dancing Instagram video, the Loose Women presenter didn’t exactly look loose doing a spin. Back in the day, she’d have probably been odds-on to be paired with ever-reliable Anton. Regrettably, despite her popularity, Kaye could be an early casualty.
We’re going to guess the former Arsenal defender will either do his first dance to the Match Of The Day theme song or the tune for “1-0 to the Arsenal”. Some serious “dad dancing” wouldn’t be a major surprise either. But after Dan Walker’s heroics last series, maybe he will be a dark horse?
Comedians can go one of two ways in Strictly, so Jayde’s early-ish exit prediction is only because we don’t know which way she’ll go. Will she do the fun stuff like Susan Calman and Judi Love, or will she buckle down and dance like Chris Ramsey or even Bill Bailey?
Soap stars tend to do well on the show. A built-in devoted fanbase, an ability to act without embarrassment on the dancefloor and, let’s be honest, all that stage school dance training they claim they didn’t do. But he’d have to go some way to beat the celebs in front of him.
Radio presenters have not had the best of fortunes on Strictly (we’re still not over Vick Hope’s elimination, to be honest). But we’ve been scanning the initial Strictly social posts, and Tyler looks like he can move. If he can connect with the voting public, he could even be a finalist.
The old joke about CBBC stars needing to rely on kids nagging their parents to vote has fallen away over the years. Rhys Stephenson and Tilly Ramsay proved that last year. And Karim Zeroual in 2019 very nearly won it. These days, CBBC stars are the ones to watch!
The comedian/presenter’s tall frame suggests she will glide effortlessly across the dancefloor during ballroom routines, recalling Fred and Ginger at their peak. Conversely, that tall frame means she may look like a giraffe on a waterslide when it’s a Latin week and that might be the week that sends her home.
Every year has a surprise, and we’re telling you, this year it’ll be Hamza. The wildlife presenter is not as well-known as many of his competitors but Google him. The lad can lift people. He can do huge leaps in the air. Can he dance? Time will tell. But always trust the Strictly bookers.
Let’s cut to the chase: being in Hear’Say doesn’t mean Kym Marsh can do the cha-cha-cha to a professional standard (in fact, “Pure And Simple” was virtually impossible to dance to – trust us, we tried). Saying all that, she’ll at least have more musicality than poor Tony Adams.
The Radio 2 presenter will be part of Strictly’s third same-sex partnership, following in the footsteps of John Whaite and Nicola Adams. John and Johannes showed the stunning heights a male partnership can reach in this contest. Richie has his work cut out to meet those high standards.
Paralympians have had a strong history on Strictly, such as Will Bayley (we’ll never forget his Couple’s Choice!), Lauren Steadman and Jonnie Peacock. But a Paralympian has never won the series… yet. Hugely popular and an elite-level sportswoman, Ellie could have what it takes.
An early favourite, but that’s not always positive. The public loves a story – a trier who falls in love with dancing – and we suspect Matt is going to be very good from the off. But as a walking charisma machine (plus one who’s very quotable), he’ll go far and may even win.
The bookies’ early favourite. At the start of this list, we mentioned that Kaye Adams looked uncomfortable. Well, in that same video, Fleur looked like she’d accidentally wandered in from the pro’s shoot. She looks like she’s got it. What’s “it”, you say? It’s being fab-u-lous!
As a former Blue Peter presenter, Helen’s one of those people with a knack for excelling at anything she tries. Expect her to genuinely discover after her first rehearsal that she should have been a professional dancer, even though it’s literally the first time she’s ever set foot on a dancefloor.
It’s unlikely Will’s going to be the best dancer in this series. But he feels like exactly the kind of charming celebrity the nation can get behind. We predict he’s going to give Strictly Come Dancing absolutely everything and leave it all out on the floor. Our gamble for the glitterball.
When does Strictly Come Dancing 2022 start?
Strictly Come Dancing begins with its launch show on BBC One HD (CH 101) at 7pm on Friday 23 September. You can also catch up via Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer.
The first live show where the celebrities dance with their professional partners for the first time is at 6.45pm on Saturday 24 September. Keep up with all the gossip and secrets from behind the scenes with Strictly: It Takes Two, starting at 6.30pm on Monday 26 September on BBC Two HD (CH 102). The live shows will continue all the way through until mid-December when it concludes with one couple lifting the glitterball trophy.
Who won Strictly Come Dancing 2021?
In a closely contested final against John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, former EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis and her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice lifted the glitterball trophy.
Rose and Giovanni’s Couple’s Choice dance in week eight featuring a period of silence as a tribute to the deaf community also won the Virgin Media Must-See Moment of 2021 at the 2022 Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards.
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Image credits: Strictly Come Dancing © BBC / Ray Burmiston