Strictly Come Dancing 2021 pairings revealed as launch show kicks off

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 has officially kicked off, with the stars of this year’s lineup making their grand entrances during the launch show.

The celebrity contestants are ready and raring to go on a mission to bag the Glitterball Trophy, as members of the public finally learn which professional dancers each of the celebs have been partnered up with.

Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse have returned to judge this year, with Anton Du Beke – the longest-serving professional dancer on the show – also sitting alongside them, taking Bruno Tonioli’s place.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are also back for the glitziest show on telly, following the 15 couples every step of the way in the competition.

So who are this year’s pairings as the launch show arrives?

Robert Webb and Dianne Buswell

We have our very first Strictly partnership!

Peep Show star Robert Webb is going to take to the dancefloor with Dianne Buswell.

We can’t wait to see what they bring to the dancefloor!

Dianne revealed that their very first dance will be the Cha-Cha to Rasputin. That will be one unforgettable routine.

Katie McGlynn and Gorka Marquez

Hollyoaks actor Katie McGlynn was a bucket of nerves before she found out who her partner was going to be.

However, the minute she discovered it was Gorka Marquez, she immediately knew that they were going to get on like a ‘house on fire’.

While Gorka has reached the final twice before, he’s yet to walk away with the overall win.

Nonetheless, the dancer thinks it could be ‘third time lucky’ with Katie.

Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu

CBeebies presenter Rhys Stephenson is set to partner up with Nancy Xu, the first time that Nancy has ever had a celebrity dance partner on the show.

Nancy said that she will ‘very strict, very hard but we’re going to have a fun time’.

‘I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy it! Nancy said, while Rhys said he’s ‘so excited’. Sounds like a perfect partnership to us!

Sara Davies and Aljaž Škorjanec

Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies said she was ‘beyond thrilled’ to be partnered with Aljaž Škorjanec, squealing as he came around the corner.

Aljaž told Sara that he was impressed with Sara’s moves during their first meeting, as he teased how hard they’re going to work in training.

However, he may have his own training to do, as Sara warned him that she plans on getting up super early to begin their dance practise for the day.

Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova

When BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker met his partner Nadiya Bychkova, he immediately asked her if he was a big ‘disappointment’.

Fortunately for him, she said that she was excited to be taking part in the competition with him.

Nadiya shared her suspicion that Dan will be good at ballroom, thanks to his long legs.

We’re just going to have to see!

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice

Rose Ayling-Ellis, best-known for playing Frankie Ellis on EastEnders, is the first deaf celebrity ever to compete on Strictly.

Rose said that she was very impressed with her partner Giovanni’s signing skills, as he revealed he wanted to be partnered with Rose from the start.

The actor, whose interpreter is on the Strictly set, explained how Giovanni is going to be adapting the way he teaches.

She also discovered that her first dance will be the Jive, much to her excitement.

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones

Swimmer Adam Peaty, who won two gold and one silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, emphasised how hard he’s willing to work on Strictly.

He’ll be jumping in the deep end with Katya Jones, with Claudia Winkleman commenting that they seem like they’re going to be the most competitive couple on the show.

While Adam said that he feels more comfortable in the water than out of it, we’ll just have to see whether he’s secretly got champion-worthy moves.

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington

While TV presenter AJ Odudu is a newbie to Strictly, so is professional dancer Kai Widdrington, who’s making debut in the 2021 series.

Kai said that he’s very ‘relaxed’ as a teacher, perhaps more so than the other pros on the show.

However, he added that he’s willing to ‘crack the whip’ if needs be, which AJ is well-aware of.

Greg Wise and Karen Hauer

The Crown star Greg Wise is going to be put to the test by his professional partner Karen Hauer, who reached the final of the competition last year with Jamie Laing.

Karen is known for her fun demeanour and determined work ethic, so we can’t wait to see how Greg fares in the training room!

‘I’m a disciplinarian, I like to get the job done,’ Karen said, while adding that the most important thing is that they have fun.

Judi Love and Graziano Di Prima

Comedian and Loose Women star Judi Love said that she was ‘overwhelmed with excitement’ for her Strictly journey to begin.

Judi met her partner, Graziano Di Prima, at Hackney Empire, taking her seat in the audience as the dancer appeared on stage behind the red curtain.

Graziano revealed to Judi that their first dance is going to be an American Smooth to Aretha Franklin – and she couldn’t have been happier with the choice.

Strictly Come Dancing returns next Saturday at 7pm on BBC One.

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