A HAIRY biker, a former Bond girl and a maths boffin are among the 15 celebrities who will be hoping to win votes, network ratings and television’s most famous glitter ball.
The full Strictly Come Dancing line-up has been revealed, ahead of the return of the BBC One show on Saturday. Model Abbey Clancy – wife of footballer Peter Crouch – and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor were yesterday confirmed as participants.
They will join broadcaster Vanessa Feltz, Countdown’s Rachel Riley, golf legend Tony Jacklin, BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid, Coronation Street’s Natalie Gumede, former rugby star Ben Cohen and Project Catwalk’s Julien Macdonald, who has designed clothes for Beyoncé and Kylie Minogue.
Also taking part are tycoon Deborah Meaden, from BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den; TV chef Dave Myers, who dropped from 17st 12lb to 14st 8lb for his Hairy Bikers programme; Fiona Fullerton, best known for her role in Bond film A View To A Kill opposite Roger Moore; Ashley Taylor Dawson from Hollyoaks; long-standing Casualty star Patrick Robinson, and former Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton.
The BBC will be hoping Strictly, now in its 11th series, will continue to challenge ITV’s X Factor, which drew an average audience of 9.2 million at the weekend – 500,000 more than last year’s debut. Last year, Strictly enjoyed a peak audience of 9.8m for its mid-September launch. Sir Bruce Forsyth, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return as presenters, with Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell as judges.
Countdown’s Riley, an Oxford graduate, is an early favourite at 4-1, with Clancy at 5-1.
Designer Macdonald said he would not hold back if the judges laid into his dancing abilities. “I’m definitely not going to stand there and let Craig lay into me. I’m not afraid of the Revel Horwood,” he said.
Myers said he was looking forward to layering on the fake tan as he immersed himself in the Strictly experience. He said: “I want to enjoy it and I am going to be enthusiastic. I am going to wear as much fake tan and glitter as possible. I’ve never fake-tanned before – I’ll do anything.”
Meaden, who took part in Let’s Dance for Comic Relief, said she was looking forward to the contest but was not a natural. “I did ballroom dancing at school, but I was atrocious,” she said.
Juliet Dunlop: All the roles have been filled, so let the show begin
For several days now, rumours have been rife; big names have been tossed around. It could only mean one thing. It’s time for the BBC to reveal Britain’s worst-kept secret – this year’s mildly disappointing Strictly Come Dancing line-up.
It’s the same every year, only fans of the show – and I count myself as one – feel obliged to tune in and cheer. If you want “journeys”, sequins and vulnerable people making fools of themselves on live TV, then this is the place to find it.
BBC Breakfast’s Susanna Reid is this year’s dancing newsreader. The fading-star spot, and judge Len’s automatic favourite, has been taken by former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton; Vanessa Feltz is the overweight, older woman and Countdown number-cruncher Rachel Riley is the brainy, glamorous one. WAG Abbey Clancy should be light on her toes and will have to keep an eye on the two female soap stars as well as singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Yes, the one who had a hit with Murder on the Dancefloor. Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden won’t be long in telling her if she is.
And what about the men? Well there’s no good pretending we care – unless it’s a Latin week and the man in question has the body of a Greek god. That role falls to former rugby player Ben Cohen, not golfer Tony Jacklin, who must have lost a bet with Bruce at the ninth hole at Wentworth. Still, roll on Saturday.