Strictly Come Dancing 2022 will be watched by a full capacity crowd for the first time in two years in its 20th series, adding to the pressure for nervous contestants performing live. Here is our guide and full SCD preview of the celebrity contestants for this year’s renewal.
Ellie Simmonds is used to pressure and has five Paralympian gold medals for swimming. The make-up and glamour are a novelty for her after the swimming pool and she is proud to represent not just people with dwarfism but others with disabilities. Her pro partner Nikita Kuzmin is delighted that she is a competitive athlete and wants her to have fun. Dancing in hold in ballroom routines with a partner who measures almost two feet less than him could be tricky.
The Kiss FM DJ Tyler West seems extremely excited to be on prime-time television and immediately started flattering head judge Shirley Ballas. Now 26 he played hand ball at a national level as a junior and is running the London Marathon so fitness should not be an issue for him. His flame-haired pro partner Dianne Buswell is delighted that he has rhythm and seems genuinely pleased to be paired with him. He was brimming with confidence in the opening routine but may be a little too confident for Strictly viewers’ tastes.
Kym Marsh was in the band Hearsay and has since spent 14 years on Coronation Street before becoming a presenter on Morning Live. At 46 years old she already has three grandchildren and says she is doing it for the grannies. She believes she walks like a sack of potatoes (has anyone ever seen a sack of potatoes on the move?) and claims to have coordination issues and chronic motion sickness. Her Strictly betting odds contracted after the opening show.
The actor Will Mellor is known to most as Gaz from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. His wife is a professional dancer and Strictly is his mum’s favourite show so he can count on outstanding family support. Will has a great sense of humour and is very down to earth and is understandably one of the most popular male celebrities in the SCD betting. He has recently been backed into favourite but his partner Nancy Xu is relatively new to the series which is a concern.
TV presenter Helen Skelton is one of the initial favourites in the Strictly betting but she is dreading the slower dances. She is physically fit and likes the idea of the jive and has the personality to score in the popularity contest that is a crucial factor in Strictly success. She asked for a partner with patience and the ability to understand a northern accent. The Spanish-born Gorka Marquez now lives in Manchester so communication should not pose a problem.
The singer and radio presenter Fleur East is equally popular in the SCD odds with the bookies for good reason. She rose to fame via X Factor and did well on her stint in I’m A Celebrity, the viewing public seem to like her. She will be hosting her breakfast radio show throughout her time on Strictly but she does not appear to lack energy. Unfortunately Fleur has been paired with Vito Coppola who is new to the show. He may be brilliant but only one pro has ever taken the Glitterball on their first Strictly season.
EastEnders actor James Bye says getting to Blackpool is his dream, his first attempt at dancing on television for Children in Need did not end well, he found himself in A & E with a badly damaged knee. He understandably looked rather nervous when taking to the floor for the first group routine but Amy Dowden will give him every chance of fulfilling his potential.
The wildlife cameraman and CBBC presenter Hamza Yassin loves dancing, embraces adventure but does not appear to be the fittest. He has been teamed up with Jowita Przystal who is in her second Strictly season making it an uphill journey for both of them.
Matt Goss, the front man of the 1980s boyband Bros, says he has surprised his fans by appearing on the show because he is supposedly a very private person when not performing. The rigours of appearing on It Takes Two and the constant media attention could pose a problem for him. The feisty Nadiya Bychkova will be holding his hand throughout.
Comedian and actor Ellie Taylor is one of the outsiders. She is used to performing live and has been matched with her dream partner Johannes Radebe but admits to being nervous about dancing in public. With Johannes’ help she may be around much longer than her opening Strictly odds of 25/1 suggest.
Essex girl Molly Rainford is a singer, actress and CBBC presenter. She has been paired with one of the new professional dancers, the Chinese champion Carlos Gu. Molly is no stranger to fake tan and bling and has musicality and commitment to the task but does not look the most likely to appeal to Strictly viewers.
Radio Two host Richie Anderson looked very comfortable performing a shimmy descending the staircase on the launch show and claims he is going to Strictlify Strictly. He is a massive fan of the show and wanted a partner who is big and strong. He has been matched with the relatively diminutive reigning champion, Giovanni Pernice. This could prove an interesting clash of personalities. Anderson could endear himself or annoy Strictly viewers, watch this space.
Comedian Jayde Adams is a Strictly super fan and is massively disappointed that her favourite professional dancer, Anton du Beke, is no longer available after his promotion to the judging panel. Karen Hauer has been given the job of coaching her instead.
Jayde is obviously entertaining and is a larger than life character in more ways than one at six feet two inches. She spent many years dancing competitively with her sister at her aunt’s dance school in the west country and unsurprisingly shone in the opening group dance. She can also sing but started doing stand-up after her sister’s untimely death from an inoperable brain tumour 2011. She looks likely to outperform her initial SCD betting odds.
Former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams wisely turned down the opportunity to take part in the show six years ago. He suffered a mental breakdown aged 49, but has finally agreed. He says it is a celebration to mark spending 26 years free from alcohol and other drugs. Now 55 years old, he appears to be physically fit but is not a natural showman or dancer. Fortunately he has the expert help of Katya Jones who could take his mental and physical strengths to new levels if he can cope with the pressure.
Presenter, journalist and Loose Woman Kaye Adams is soon to be 60 and has surprised her friends by taking part the show. She is definitely not a natural dancer and looked the least comfortable of all the celebrities descending the stairs on the launch show, managing only the weakest of waves to the crowd. Her partner Kai Widdrington proved an excellent teacher in his debut Strictly season with AJ Odudu who could not perform in the final after suffering an injury. The hunt for Kaye’s ‘inner Beyonce’ could be an exceptionally tough one but she has promised to demonstrate her upside down twerk if she makes it to week two.
Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.