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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Isobel Lewis

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 couples – full list of celebrities and their partners

BBC/Guy Levy

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 is here, with all the stars paired up with their respective pro dancers.

The reality competition series returned to our screens on 16 September, with a launch show in which the celebrity contestants learnt which professional dancers they would be coupled up with.

Meet your Strictly Come Dancing couples below…

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington is competing with Giovanni Pernice. You can find out more about her here.

Abbington, 51, has appeared on stage and screen for many years, but is best known for playing Mary Watson in the BBC adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. She was previously married to Martin Freeman, who played her on-screen husband John Watson.

Amanda Abbington
— (Getty Images)

Italian dancer Pernice, 33, joined the cast of Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 and won with Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021. Last year, he was the second dancer to leave the competition with Richie Anderson.

On dancing with Pernice, Abbington told Claudia Winkleman: “I’m ecstatic! We get on really well, same sense of humour, and [are] dedicated to working hard.”

Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima

Love Island star and documentary host Zara McDermott is dancing with Graziano Di Prima. You can find out more about her here.

McDermott, 26, rose to fame on the ITV2 dating show, but has since branched out into presenting work, covering serious subjects such as revenge porn. She is the first Love Island star to go on Strictly.

Hailing from Italy, Di Prima, 29, joined Strictly in 2018, dancing with Vick Hope. He went without a partner for two years before competing again in 2021, placing sixth last year with Kym Marsh.

During the Strictly launch show, McDermott said that she was “probably the most nervous I’ve been in my life”, adding: “I’m not a natural born performer or extrovert, so this is the biggest challenge of my life!”

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał

Paralympian Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał are competing together. You can find out more about him here.

Cundy, 44, is a champion athlete who has represented Great Britain at seven Summer Paralympics. He’s won a total of eight gold, one silver and three bronze medals across swimming and cycling events.

Jody Cundy
— (PA Wire)

2023 is only Przystał’s second series on Strictly, but the 29-year-old dancer got off to an impressive start in 2022 after lifting the Glitterball Trophy with wildlife presenter Hamza Yassin.

Learning she was dancing with Cundy, she said: “I need to admit I’m actually a bit nervous because I don’t want to let him down, but I have a lot of ideas.”

Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley

Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy is dancing with Lauren Oakley. You can find out more about him here.

Guru-Murthy, 53, has presented at Channel 4 News for 25 years and is known for his unrelenting interview style.

Oakley, meanwhile, is a newcomer and is competing on her first series of Strictly.

Guru-Murthy praised the “brilliant” pairing, with Oakley, 32, adding: “It might be the first time that I’m partnered with somebody, but I know it’s a big ask for the celebrities to go out there and dance. So I think I need to be kind and give you confidence to have fun, but when it’s time to be strict I know how to be strict, don’t worry about that!”

Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington

Legendary newsreader Angela Rippon is dancing with Kai Widdrington. You can find out more about her here.

Aged 78, Rippon is the oldest celebrity to take part in Strictly in the show’s history. She has a special connection to the series, having previously presented the BBC’s long-running ballroom series Come Dancing that gives Strictly its name.

Angela Rippon
— (Getty Images)

Widdrington, 28, rose to fame on Britain’s Got Talent before joining Strictly in 2021. He reached the final with AJ Odudu in his first year, but was first out with Kaye Adams in 2022.

“When I saw it was Kai I couldn’t have been happier I promise you,” Rippon said of her partner, with Widdrington adding: “I am absolutely delighted to have Angela, I think we are going to be fabulous.”

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin

Musical theatre star Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin are in the only same-sex partnership of the series. You can find out more about Williams here.

Williams, 29, was just 12 when he kicked off his professional career as the lead in Billy Elliot in the West End. To musical theatre fans, he’s best known now for playing teen drag queen Jamie New in the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie from 2019 to 2022, but TV viewers will recognise him from the Jack Whitehall comedy Bad Education.

Ukrainian dancer Kuzmin, 25, joined Strictly in 2021 and has danced with Tilly Ramsay and Ellie Simmonds.

Discussing Williams’s previous dance experience, Kuzmin said: “Ballroom and Latin are completely different to anything Layton has done so far, the technique, posture and especially to co-ordination is completely different. He has a lot to learn and I can’t wait to teach him.”

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones

Former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman is dancing with Katya Jones. You can find out more about him here.

Harman, 50, is best known for playing “bad boy” Dennis Rickman on the BBC soap from 2003 to 2005. He has also had a career in musical theatre, having appeared in the original Mamma Mia! cast and won an Olivier Award for his role as Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical.

Nigel Harman
— (Getty Images)

His partner Jones, 34, has appeared on Strictly for seven series, during which she competed in the show’s first same-sex couple with Nicola Adams.

Hearing about Jones’s “strict” teaching style, Harman said: “Everyone keeps telling me this and every time they tell me this I get more and more terrified, but I am pretending I’m really calm about it.”

Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell

EastEnders star Bobby Brazier is dancing with Dianne Buswell. You can find out more about him here.

The son of the late Jade Goody and presenter Jeff Brazier, 20-year-old Brazier can be seen playing Freddie Slater in EastEnders. He began his career as a model, having been scouted when he was just 16, and has walked for Dolce & Gabbana in Milan.

Buswell, his partner, is an Australian dancer who joined the show in 2018. The 34-year-old reached the final with Joe Sugg in 2018, and the pair have dated since.

Brazier said he was “so pleased” with his partner, with Buswell adding: “I am so happy I have already adopted Bobby as my little brother, and I already care so much about him. I just want him to have the best time ever.”

Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer

Comedian Eddie Kadi is in a couple with Karen Hauer. You can find out more about him here.

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kadi and his family moved to London when he was eight. He got into stand-up at university and in 2010 was the first Black British comedian to headline the O2 Arena.

Eddie Kadi (right)
— (Getty Images)

Hauer, 41, is Strictly’s longest serving pro dancer, having joined the show in 2012. Despite this, she has never won the competition, but reached the final with Jamie Laing in 2020.

Kadi, 40, compared Hauer to “Kryptonite”, saying: “She’s got a sound, ‘ta ta’, when you get something a little bit wrong. ‘Ta ta’. I’m like, oh my God, I’ve got to get used to ‘ta ta’.”

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe

Former tennis player Annabel Croft is competing with Johannes Radebe. You can find out more about her here.

At the age of 15, Croft became the youngest player to compete at Wimbledon for 95 years. She retired aged 21 and moved into broadcasting, and has said she hopes Strictly will let her “find some joy” following the death of her husband earlier this year.

Radebe, 36, competed on Strictly for the first time in 2019, and came second place in 2021 with John Whaite in the show’s first ever male same-sex pairing. In recent interviews, Whaite has admitted that he “fell in love” with his partner during the competition.

Croft, 57, was overjoyed to be coupled up with Radebe, saying: “I’ve got the best partner I could possibly have wished for. Honestly he’s so special, you really are so special. It’s such an honour and a privilege to be dancing with you, thank you.”

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola

Coronation Street star Ellie Leach is dancing with Vito Coppola. You can find out more about her here.

Leach, 22, is known to most for her 12-year stint as Faye Windass on the ITV soap. She began when she was just nine and left the show in May.

Ellie Leach
— (Getty Images)

Coppola, 30, competed on Strictly for the first time in 2022, where he reached the final with Fleur East.

Leach said: “I’m over the moon that Vito is my partner. Honestly, I’m so excited! I think we are going to have so much fun.”

Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk

Actor Adam Thomas is dancing with Luba Mushtuk. You can find out more about him here.

The brother of Love Island star Scott Thomas and Corrie’s Ryan Thomas, Thomas, 35, is best known to most for his roles on Waterloo Road and Emmerdale.

This is Mushtuk’s sixth year on Strictly, but only her third with a partner. She competed in 2019 and 2020, when she was first out and came 11th respectively. In the years since, Mushtuk, 33, has not had a partner.

Learning who his partner was, Thomas said: “I’m loving life… what is not to love? I’m on Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve got this Russian princess! I’m buzzing, absolutely over the moon.”

Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu

TV presenter Angela Scanlon is competing with Carlos Gu. You can find out more about her here.

Scanlon is known to BBC viewers as the host of Your Home Made Perfect and spin-off Your Garden Made Perfect. Back home in Ireland, the 39-year-old can still be seen on screen in her popular RTÉ chat show Ask Me Anything.

Angela Scanlon
— (BBC / Remarkable TV)

Chinese national dance champion Gu, 39, joined Strictly in 2022, where he reached the final with Molly Rainford.

Gu seemed positive about his new partnership, telling Winkleman: “I have made a better plan and we are going for the Glitter Ball… We’ll do it one step at a time, no rush.”

Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez

Radio presenter Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez are dancing together. You can find out more about her here.

Hailing from Birmingham, Kanda, 28, hosts the BBC Asian Network’s breakfast show. The DJ has also had roles in West End productions of The Wiz, Bugsy Malone, Annie and Pocahontas.

This is Spanish dancer Márquez’s seventh year on Strictly. The 33-year-old has come second twice: with Alexandra Burke in 2017, and Helen Skelton last year.

Asked about her dancing skills by Winkleman, Kanda said: “I am a party animal but when it comes to choreography, that’s what I’m here to learn… I need to learn some new skills, I’m just like one arm up in the air.”

Les Dennis and Nancy Xu

Entertainer Les Dennis is in a couple with Nancy Xu. You can find out more about him here.

An all-round entertainer, Dennis, 69, rose to fame as a comedian before branching out into presenting. To most, he’s best known as the host of Family Fortunes, but has also appeared in a number of musicals in the West End.

Les Dennis
— (Getty Images for eONE)

Chinese dancer Xu competed on her first series in 2021 and has placed fourth and fifth in her two previous competitions.

After he was the last couple to be announced, Dennis said of Xu, 32: “I am so happy… as soon as I met Nancy I knew I could learn from her, she is a great teacher and she is so enthusiastic.”

Strictly Come Dancing airs every Saturday on BBC One.

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