Meet the contestants hitting the Strictly Come Dancing stage
With the Strictly Come Dancing competition about to officially launch, meet the celebrities taking part in the hit BBC contest’s 15th series…
JLS star Aston Merrygold, 29, will return to the stage as he hits the dance floor with Janette Manrara. He has already thanked her for being “patient” with him as he adds ballroom and Latin dancing to his performance repertoire for the first time.
Scottish comedian Susan Calman, 42, was thrilled when she was paired with her dream partner, Kevin Clifton, and has spent the last few weeks getting used to wearing dresses and high heels for the first time since her college years.
Hollyoaks star Gemma Atkinson, 32, will discover her “sexy” side for the first time when the competition begins this weekend. It will come after a tough week of training with partner Aljaz Skorjanec, which she admitted almost brought her to tears.
Ruth Langsford, 57, has had a tough job adding the gruelling Strictly training sessions to her regular role as presenter of This Morning, but she was delighted to be partnered with show veteran Anton Du Beke and joked that she could not wait to make husband Eamonn Holmes jealous.
Television’s Debbie McGee, 58, has said that taking part in the show with partner Giovanni Pernice has made her happy for the first time since the death of her husband, Paul Daniels. She told how Daniels, who took part in the contest in 2010, had always wanted to see her follow in his footsteps.
Davood Ghadami, who plays Kush Kazemi in EastEnders, is putting everything he has into training with partner Nadiya Bychkova. The 35-year-old said the first day in the studio left his brain “scrambled” and he did not expect to be getting any sleep for weeks.
Singer Alexandra Burke, 29, was given an emotional new reason to perform at her best with partner Gorka Marquez when her mother recently died. The Hallelujah star described her mother as her “biggest critic” and said that everything she does “is for her”.
TV star Brian Conley has tried his hand at almost every job there is in showbusiness, but he will be entering new territory when he joins partner Amy Dowden on the stage. The 56-year-old and self-proclaimed “dad dancer” has said it will be an experience he will never forget.
ITV newsreader Charlotte Hawkins has admitted that she has a few nerves ahead of the first leg of the competition, but partner Brendan Cole has already described the 42-year-old as a “beautiful” dancer.
Holby City star Joe McFadden, 41, will be twirling Katya Jones round the dance floor, a year after the pro was teamed with former shadow chancellor Ed Balls. The politician has already given the duo his blessing, saying McFadden is “already so much better than me!”
Dubbed the fastest blade in Rio, 24-year-old Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock already has a haul of gold medals to his name but is hoping partner Oti Mabuse can help him add a glitterball trophy to his collection.
Rev Richard Coles, 55, is most famous for being part of The Communards alongside Jimmy Somerville and will be hoping his musical background stands him in good stead when he shows off his moves with new professional Dianne Buswell, but has admitted he thinks his struggles might be more entertaining for the viewers.
Sunday Brunch chef Simon Rimmer, 54, has promised to throw himself into the Strictly experience in the hopes of cooking up routines that please the judges with partner Karen Clifton, and that includes fake tan, sequins and skin-tight clothing.
Actress Chizzy Akudolu is the other star of Holby City taking on the Strictly challenge alongside partner Pasha Kovalev and the 43-year-old has already said holding his hand is one of the highlights of her experience so far.
The Saturdays singer Mollie King, 30, has been taking tips from bandmate Frankie Bridge as she hopes to follow in her footsteps and land a place in the final with her pro AJ Pritchard.
Strictly Come Dancing starts on Saturday night at 6.25pm on BBC One.