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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Michael Hogan

Strictly Come Dancing 2022: the contestants – ranked!

Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke.
Judges in waiting … Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

We might still be sweating and failing to sleep our way through a heatwave, but the countdown to Christmas is just around the corner. Why? Because the Strictly Come Dancing 2022 line-up has been announced in full.

But who are the 15 intrepid celebrities getting spray-tanned, Spanx-clad and sequin-spangled for the nation’s autumnal amusement?

Start humming that ba-ba-da theme tune as we proudly present this year’s ballroom batch, ranked from worst to best in terms of probable success. Spoiler: we have East, West and way too many Adamses. Let the choreographic countdown begin …

Tony Adams
Tony Adams Photograph: Unknown/BBC

15. Tony Adams

The former Arsenal donkey, sorry, defender is one of the cast’s bigger curveballs. How will he fare swapping his football boots for dancing shoes? Will the judges spot a foul and brandish a red card? Will Tess Daly ever tire of painful footballing puns? Since hanging up his tight hamstrings, Big Tone has worked tirelessly for mental health and addiction charities, so has goodwill from everyone except Spurs fans. Sadly, strapping sportsmen tend to resemble reluctant dads at a wedding disco. Odds of him dancing to Three Lions and busting out a Full Monty-style “arm aloft” move in a nod to his trademark offside appeal? High. Odds of going home in the first two weeks? With regret, also high.

Tyler West.
Tyler West. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

14. Tyler West

He’s got a name like one of Kim Kardashian’s spawn but is nowhere near as famous. The wearisomely excitable Kiss DJ used the word “gassed” at his unveiling, which immediately made me feel very, very tired. As does the fact that he “loves a cheeky Kinder Bueno” like an actual toddler. Obscure radio jocks tend to tune out early – see Melvin Odoom and Dev Griffin – so Tyler will probably be “gassed” to make a “cheeky” early exit.

Kaye Adams.
Kaye Adams. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

13. Kaye Adams

Another Adams. Did the casting director just go through the phonebook? Was Bryan not picking up? Loose Women tend to depart early-ish – I refer you to Ruth Langsford and Judi Love. So, fear not, daytime viewers – this member of the daytime ITV show will most likely be back behind the desk being repeatedly interrupted by Janet Street-Porter before you know it.

Hamza Yassin.
Hamza Yassin. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

12. Hamza Yassin

Us neither. A Countryfile cameraman and presenter, apparently. “Never in a million years did I think I’d be on Strictly,” he says. Nor did anyone, pal. Presumably David Attenborough and Chris Packham were washing their hair. Hopefully, Craig’s critiques won’t be like watching a lion devour an antelope.

Jayde Adams.
Jayde Adams. Photograph: BBC

11. Jayde Adams

A third Adams? That’s all we need. I’d suspect nepotism if they remotely knew each other. The award-winning Bristolian stand-up, Alma’s Not Normal star and former Adele impersonator (no, really) might surprise a few people. She was a competitive disco dancer in her teens, paired with with her big sister, Jenna, who died of a brain tumour in 2005. Jayde hasn’t danced with anyone since. It’s gonna be totes emosh, babes.

Richie Anderson.
Richie Anderson. Photograph: BBC

10. Richie Anderson

One of those in-house BBC bits of casting, where they just scrape up whoever’s waiting in reception. The Radio 2 “massive” will get behind him but he’s essentially that bloke who reads the traffic news on Zoe Ball’s breakfast show. Anderson, who came out as gay four years ago, will form an all-male couple but looks unlikely to match up to last year’s “John-hannes” pairing. Hey, at least he’ll be forewarned of any contraflow problems on the M1 home.

James Bye.
James Bye. Photograph: BBC

9. James Bye

Not a typo of behatted troubadour James Bay, but the artist better known as market trader Martin Fowler from EastEnders, so expect fruit and veg gags. I’m holding out hope for a market-themed quickstep, where he descends down some apples-and-pears, juggles cabbages and uses cucumbers as canes. The self-confessed “dad dancer” seems unlikely to make it two wins in a row for the shouty Cockney soap, following Rose Ayling-Ellis’s 2021 triumph– he looks more like mid-series cannon fodder. Note to Dave Arch: hire Sonia as a trumpet player asap.

Ellie Taylor.
Ellie Taylor. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

8. Ellie Taylor

Three Adamses, two compass points and two Ellies. Strictly producers are trolling us. Taylor once mocked the show on The Mash Report by reading this spoof news item: “With the dancing show continuing to be dogged by infidelity, experts studying the so-called Strictly curse have been unable to fathom how two people who spend days rubbing their genitals together to romantic music could possibly end up shagging.” Expect the clip to go viral come showtime.

Molly Rainford.
Molly Rainford. Photograph: BBC

7. Molly Rainford

Another “Who?’” recruit. Also the second contestant after Kaye Adams to share her first name with drug slang. So there’s that. A decade ago, schoolgirl singer Rainford became the youngest ever finalist of Britain’s Got Talent, aged just 11. How adorable/insufferable (delete according to taste). She now plays interplanetary pop star Nova Jones in the CBBC sci-fi drama. Stage school training means she’ll be annoyingly good, Cue “ringer” grumblings, and an early December departure.

Helen Skelton.
Helen Skelton. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

6. Helen Skelton

Here’s one we made earlier. Mainly out of sticky-back plastic and blondhair extensions. Widely predicted, but the last confirmed contestant, the former Blue Peter presenter apparently signed up to “find love” following a “shock split” from her husband, rugby player Richie Myler. What could possibly go wrong?

Kym Marsh.
Kym Marsh. Photograph: BBC

5. Kym Marsh

Hear’Say member. Former Corrie favourite. Presenter of BBC’s Morning Live. Is there nothing Kym Marsh can’t do to a fairly competent level? Stage-schooled ex-girlband types always play down their chances by insisting it’s “a whole different type of dance”, then go on to reach the final. See Louise Redknapp from Eternal, Kimberley from Girls Aloud, Rachel from S Club, Frankie from The Saturdays and Faye from Steps. Whatever salty comments the judges throw Marsh’s way, it can’t be worse than Nasty Nigel making her cry by saying “Christmas is over and the goose has gotten fat” on Popstars. Talking of Popstars contestants: can we sign up Darius next year please?
[Please see note at end of article]

Will Mellor.
Will Mellor. Photograph: BBC

4. Will Mellor

Two Pints Of Salsa and a Packet Of Hips, anyone? He might have popped up in “proper” dramas such as Broadchurch and Line Of Duty but the textbook cheeky chappie™ will forever be Jambo from Hollyoaks or Gaz from Two Pints. He’s married to a dancer, has musical theatre on his CV and will take his top off to make the judges come over all funny. Hollyoaks alumni shine beneath the glitterball, with Danny Mac, Gemma Atkinson, Ricky Whittle and Ali Bastian all shimmying into the final. No pressure, Jambo.

Ellie Simmonds.
Ellie Simmonds. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

3. Ellie Simmonds

With two Ellies in the field, I suggest they’re henceforth known as “Swimmy Ellie” and “Silly Ellie”. So, that’s agreed, yeah? The much loved swimmer has been a BBC Sport pundit since handing in her sports centre locker key last year. She’s confident, competitive and charismatic, while working a lovely line in statement frocks. Strictly’s Paralympians have never made the final – Jonnie Peacock, Will Bayley, JJ Chalmers and Lauren Steadman all fell short – but the Midlands will mobilise for its golden girl, who could buck the trend.

Fleur East.
Fleur East. Photograph: Unknown/BBC

2. Fleur East

The Walthamstow Whitney, as nobody calls her, has a solid reality record, having been runner-up on The X Factor and an I’m a Celebrity finalist. Leggy, likeable, sequin-friendly and an experienced performer, she should suit the dancefloor. Or the “dance-Fleur”, as it will inevitably be dubbed. Her father Malcolm was a Strictly superfan until his death in 2020, so will probably get weepy during post-routine chit-chats with Tess. We can also look forward to points-of-the-compass gags about her and Tyler West. Presumably Jordan North and The Beautiful South were unavailable.

Matt Goss.
Matt Goss. Photograph: BBC

1. Matt Goss

“I made a conscious decision because of Stevie Wonder not to be superstitious.” Yes, Brosettes and Gossettes, behold this year’s star signing. Mums have fond memories of his 80s pop pomp, while millennials have an ironic appreciation since the inadvertently hilarious hit documentary Bros: After The Screaming Stops. The non-drumming Goss twin has musicality, shark-eyed ambition, and surely wouldn’t have relocated from Vegas unless he was confident of winning. Expect razzle-dazzle Rat Pack numbers and gnomic pronouncements, like a cross between Yoda and an Apprentice candidate. We look forward to his French bulldog Reggie watching proudly from the front row as he lifts the glitterball trophy and dedicates his victory to ex-Bros bassist Craig Logan #justiceforcraig.

• This article was written and published before news of Darius Campbell Danesh’s death was announced. It was amended on 18 August 2022 to clarify in the reference made to the singer in the original version, that he was a former Popstars contestant.

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