Credit: BBC Strictly via Instagram

Strictly 2021: Week One – First times (and first 9s?!)

Strictly Come Dancing is BACK for another year!

Many viewers expressed their shock at how it’s Strictly season already:

New judge alert!

Much-loved dancer Anton du Beke has left the pro line-up for the first time since Season One. After filling in for Bruno Tonioli last year, he has now replaced him as a full-time member of the judging panel this season. He joins Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and head judge Shirley Ballas.

Who are our fabulous 15?

This year’s line up looks set to be a promising one. The 2021 season includes the youngest ever celeb, the first deaf celeb, and the first all-male couple. In case you’ve lost track of them all, here are the 15 celebrities competing in this year’s Strictly:

Adam Peaty MBE

26-year-old Adam is a swimmer best known for winning gold at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. His professional partner is Katya Jones.

AJ Odudu

AJ, 33, is a TV presenter who rose to fame by hosting Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, and acting as the backstage presenter on The Voice UK and The Voice Kids. She’s been paired with new pro dancer Kai Widdrington.

Dan Walker

44-year-old Dan is best known for presenting BBC Breakfast, and presented Football Focus for over a decade. Standing at 6’6″ tall, it was a given that he’d be paired with the tallest female pro – Nadiya Bychkova.

Greg Wise

Greg, 55, is an actor. One of his most famous roles was in Sense and Sensibility, where he worked alongside his now-wife, Dame Emma Thompson. His professional partner is Karen Hauer.

John Whaite

32-year-old John won The Great British Bake Off in 2012, and has since acted as the resident chef on Lorraine, and appeared on other shows like This Morning and Sunday Brunch. He’s been paired with Johannes Radebe, making him the first man to be partnered with a male professional dancer.

Judi Love

Judi, 41, is a comedian and presenter, who is probably best known for co-hosting Loose Women. She’s been paired with Graziano Di Prima.

Katie McGlynn

28-year-old Katie is an actress, known for her roles in Coronation Street and Waterloo Road. Her professional partner is Gorka Márquez.

Nina Wadia OBE

Nina, 52, is an actress and comedian best known for her role as Zainab in EastEnders, as well as the sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. She’s been paired with Neil Jones.

Rhys Stephenson

27-year-old Rhys is best known as a presenter on CBBC. He’s been paired with Nancy Xu, and is her first celebrity partner since joining the show.

Robert Webb

Robert, 48, is an actor and comedian best known for starring in the sitcom Peep Show and being one half of the double act ‘Mitchell and Webb’ alongside David Mitchell. He’s been paired with Dianne Buswell.

Rose Ayling-Ellis

26-year-old Rose is an actress best known as Frankie in EastEnders. She is the first deaf celebrity to take part in Strictly, and has an interpreter present during training and live shows. Her professional partner is Giovanni Pernice.

Sara Davies MBE

Sara, 37, is a businesswoman famous for her role as a Dragon on Dragons’ Den as well as being the owner of the craft company ‘Crafter’s Companion’. Her professional partner is Aljaž Škorjanec.

Matilda ‘Tilly’ Ramsay

19-year-old Tilly is the youngest celebrity to ever compete on Strictly, as she doesn’t turn 20 until November this year. She is a TV chef hosting Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch on CBBC, and her father is world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. She’s been paired with Nikita Kuzmin, one of the new dancers for the 2021 series.

Tom Fletcher

Tom, 36, is a musician and author who has reached international success as a member of the band McFly. His wife Giovanna Fletcher is the current I’m a Celebrity ‘Queen of the Castle’. His professional partner is Amy Dowden.

Ugo Monye

38-year-old Ugo is a former England rugby player who played for Harlequins from 2002 to 2015. He now acts as a pundit, and has recently become a team captain on the new series of Question of Sport. He’s been paired with Oti Mabuse, who has won Strictly with her celebrity partners for the last two seasons in a row.

How did their first dances go?

Tom & Amy – Cha-Cha-Cha (Score: 21/40)

First up, Tom Fletcher’s Cha-Cha-Cha to Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’ was received quite well for a Week One dance. He showed a lot of promise and clearly wasn’t too phased about going first seeing as he performs to thousands of people on stage all the time in McFly. He and Amy scored a respectable 21 – a 4 from Craig, a 7 from Motsi, a 5 from Shirley and a 5 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Tilly & Nikita – Waltz (Score: 21/40)

Tilly’s Waltz to Camila Cabello’s ‘Consequences’ was a sweet, romantic first effort. Despite her young age, she showed a sense of poise that could take her far in the competition. Like Tom, she and Nikita scored 21 – a 5 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 6 from Shirley and a 5 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Ugo & Oti – Samba (Score: 18/40)

Ugo was given the notoriously difficult Samba for his first dance, to Justin Wellington’s ‘Iko Iko (My Bestie). He put in a good effort, but there was much to improve. He and Oti scored 18 – a 3 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 5 from Shirley and a 5 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Rhys & Nancy – Viennese Waltz (Score: 27/40)

Rhys’s Viennese did quite well for a Week One attempt, and shows potential for the rest of the competition. Dancing to Boyz II Men’s ‘End of the Road’, his and Nancy’s elegant routine received a 27 from the judges – a 6 from Craig, a 7 from Motsi, a 7 from Shirley and a 7 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Sara & Aljaž – Cha-Cha-Cha (Score: 17/40)

Sara’s Dragon’s Den-themed Cha-Cha-Cha was entertaining, but could have been executed better technically. Dancing to Diana Ross’s ‘The Boss’, it wasn’t too bad for a Week One dance though. She and Aljaž scored 17 from the judges – a 3 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 5 from Shirley and a 4 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Dan & Nadiya – Quickstep (Score: 24/40)

Dan’s BBC Breakfast-themed Quickstep was to The Blues Brothers’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’. It was quite good considering it was his first ever routine! He and Nadiya received a 24 – a 5 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 7 from Shirley and a 7 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rose & Giovanni – Jive (Score: 22/40)

Rose’s first dance was a Jive to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’. It was a bouncy, joyful dance that warmed everyone’s hearts. As Rose is deaf, she counts while dancing, which was very visible when watching her. She will never be penalised for this, as it helps her timing as she cannot hear the music. She and Giovanni scored a 22 from the judges – a 6 from Craig, a 6 from Motsi, a 4 from Shirley and a 6 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Katie & Gorka – Tango (Score: 22/40)

Katie’s Tango to Griff’s ‘Black Hole’ was a strong start, showing a lot of promise for the weeks ahead. Like Rose, she and Gorka got a 22 from the judges – a 6 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 5 from Shirley and a 6 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Robert & Dianne – Cha-Cha-Cha (Score: 20/40)

In an iconic Cha-Cha-Cha, Rob danced to Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’. While it wasn’t perfect, it was a routine that will certainly be remembered – whether it be for the outfits or for Rob’s facial expressions! Clearly the men found it more entertaining than their female colleagues (Craig in particular). Rob and Dianne scored a 20 – a 6 from Craig, a 4 from Motsi, a 4 from Shirley and a 6 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Greg & Karen – American Smooth (Score: 24/40)

Debonair as ever, Greg performed a classy American Smooth to Frank Sinatra’s ‘That’s Life’. Complete with a top hat and cane. He and Karen scored 24 from the judges – a 6 from Craig, a 6 from Motsi, a 5 from Shirley and a 7 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Nina & Neil – Samba (Score: 24/40)

Like Ugo, Nina was given the daunting task of a Samba in Week One, and danced to J Balvin’s ‘Mi Gente’. She gave it her all, and she and Neil received a respectable 24 – a 5 from Craig, a 5 from Motsi, a 7 from Shirley and a 7 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


John & Johannes – Tango (Score: 30/40)

In a mesmerising Tango to New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’, John performed powerfully yet elegantly, showing just as much control as his partner. He and Johannes received a brilliant 30 – a 7 from Craig, a 7 from Motsi, an 8 from Shirley and an 8 from Anton. They also received a standing ovation and thunderous applause from the audience.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Judi & Graziano – American Smooth (Score: 24/40)

Judi’s classy-yet-sassy American Smooth was a great start to her time on the show. Her and Graziano’s routine to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’ got a 24 from the judges – a 6 from Craig, a 6 from Motsi, a 6 from Shirley and a 6 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.


AJ & Kai – Jive (Score: 34/40)

AJ performed an INCREDIBLE routine to DJ Fresh’s ‘Gold Dust’, which blew everyone away. The instant frontrunners of the series, she and Kai earned a whopping 34 from the judges – an 8 from Craig, an 8 from Motsi, and in a rare sight for week one, a 9 from Shirley and a 9 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Adam & Katya – Cha-Cha-Cha (Score: 30/40)

Finally, Adam’s Cha-Cha-Cha to Måneskin’s ‘Beggin” drew in all the eyes. His Olympian frame caught Craig’s attention in particular, and the routine itself was just as eye-catching. He and Katya scored an impressive 30 – a 7 from Craig, a 7 from Motsi, an 8 from Shirley and an 8 from Anton.

Charlotte’s rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

How did the leaderboard look?

At the end of the night, AJ and Kai topped the table, and Sara and Aljaž were at the bottom. No one was eliminated this week – everyone gets two dances before someone goes home.

Any news before Week Two?

Unfortunately, Tom and Amy have tested positive for COVID-19, and are now self-isolating separately. They will be given a bye this week, because Strictly rules allow one week off from the show. If they are healthy by next week, they will be allowed to re-enter the competition in Week Three.

What next?

The next week of Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday at 6:45pm on BBC One, with the results show at 7:05pm on Sunday.
Strictly – It Takes Two (hosted by Janette Manrara and Rylan Clark-Neal) airs from Monday to Friday at 6:30pm.

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