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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Ellie Harrison,Tom Murray and Nicole Vassell

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 lineup in full: Meet the contestants

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 is here, with a whole roster of celebrities from reality star Zara McDermott to veteran broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy competing on the show.

This year, the BBC One show turns 21, and is presented once again by the sparkling duo that is Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

The show returned on 16 September and will run until mid-December.

The full 2023 line-up includes actors, presenters, comedians and more.

Meet them all below...

Zara McDermott

Zara McDermott
— (BBC)

The 26-year-old reality star found fame on ITV’s Love Island, appearing on the show in 2018.

She has since fronted five BBC documentaries, including Revenge Porn, Uncovering Rape Culture and Disordered Eating.

She’s also known for documenting her relationship with fellow reality star Sam Thompson (Made in Chelsea) on social media.

“I am so excited to be joining the world of Strictly! I grew up watching it every year with my nan and she was the biggest Strictly fan,” McDermott said.

“We would dance around the house and I have such fond memories of that time in my life. I even remember the first-ever series, and being mesmerised by all the beautiful dresses! I can’t wait to throw myself into this experience and start training. It’s going to be incredible.”

McDermott is paired with pro dancer Graziano Di Prima.

Amanda Abbington

Amanda Abbington
— (BBC)

The actor, 51, has starred in some of the UK’s biggest drama TV series, including Sherlock, Mr Selfridge, Wolfe, and Desperate Measures.

Her role as Mary Morstan in Sherlock won her the Best Supporting Actress prize at the Crime Thriller Awards.

Abbington’s acting career spans three decades and she has also performed in various plays, including the recent West End transfer of Steven Moffat’s The Unfriend.

She said: “I’m actually really shy and self-conscious so this will be a great opportunity for me to overcome those things! Plus, I get to learn to dance which I am incredibly excited about.

“I’m really looking forward to the training too, I’m quite competitive as my family and friends will tell you. I can’t wait to start!”

Abbington’s Strictly casting has already caused controversy, due to tweets she has posted about drag shows and trans issues in the past.

Abbington is paired with pro dancer Giovanni Pernice.

Angela Rippon

Angela Rippon
— (BBC)

The award-winning journalist, TV presenter, newsreader, and author, who turns 79 in October, is the oldest contestant to ever compete on Strictly.

Her career spans over 50 years, with the star having presented programmes from current affairs to quiz shows and magazine programmes for global broadcasters. She hosted the original version of Strictly, which was called Come Dancing, more than 30 years ago.

In 2004, she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to Broadcasting, Charity and the Arts, then in the 2017 New Year Honours Angela was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to dementia care.

Rippon said: “This will be quite an adventure for me. A scary one, considering I’m about to be 79. But I’m really looking forward to the challenge, and perhaps being able to learn to dance the Argentinian Tango!!”

Rippon is paired with pro dancer Kai Widdrington.

Layton Williams

Layton Williams
— (BBC)

The 28-year-old film and theatre actor is best known for playing the title roles in Billy Elliot and Everyone’s Talking About Jamie.

His other stage shows include Thriller Live, Rent, Hairspray and New Adventures. He is best known on TV for playing Stephen Carmichael in the Bad Education movie and recently rebooted series. He’s also starred in I Hate Suzie and does the voiceover for the UK’s first gay dating show, I Kissed a Boy.

Williams said: “Absolutely buzzing to confirm that I will be taking part in THE most iconic dance competition in the UK! It’s time to bring it to the Ballroom... Bring on the sequins… ALL the sequins!”

Williams is paired with pro dancer Nikita Kuzmin.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Krishnan Guru-Murthy
— (BBC)

Guru-Murthy, 53, is a staple of British broadcasting. He is the main anchor of Channel 4 News, as well as reporting for the foreign affairs series Unreported World and hosting live debates for Channel 4.

Since joining the C4 team in 1998 he has covered major events from the Omagh bombing to the 911 attacks and the Ukraine War, and last year he won the Royal Television Society Journalism Award for best Network Presenter.

Guru-Murthy said: “I’m surprised, delighted and slightly confused to find myself taking part in Strictly on the basis of ‘you only live once!’ and I can’t wait to start learning to dance, but I am slightly worried about my general decrepitude.

“I know I’m going to love it and have a brilliant time and just hope I’m not the only one enjoying my participation.”

Guru-Murthy is paired with pro dancerLauren Oakley.

Eddie Kadi

Eddie Kadi
— (BBC)

The 40-year-old is a multi-award-winning stand-up comedian and radio presenter who was the first British Black comic to headline the O2 Arena in London.

He has hosted the prestigious Mobo Awards and appeared on numerous TV formats including Blankety Blank, The National Comedy Awards, Tonight with Target, +44 Presents: The Noughties Podcast, Don’t Hate the Playaz, and Road to Afro Nation: Davido Live.

He also fronts The Official Afrobeats Chart Show on BBC Radio 1Xtra and is a Team Captain on ITV’s entertainment format Sorry I Didn’t Know.

Kadi said: “WOW. Anyone who knows me, understands that music and dance is so important and central to who I am... I promise you, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. This is going to be a VIBE.”

Kadi is paired with pro dancer Karen Hauer.

Angela Scanlon

Angela Scanlon
— (BBC)

The 39-year-old TV presenter is known for her work on the BBC and Irish broadcaster RTÉ. She hosts the interior design show Your Home Made Perfect on BBC Two and is the only woman in the UK and Ireland to have their own Saturday night chat show with RTÉ One’s Ask Me Anything.

Last year, she published her first book Joyrider, part empowering guide and part memoir, all about the importance of bringing gratitude into everyday life.

Scanlon said: “Will they make me tan? How itchy are sequins?! Do they do flesh-coloured sports bras? Well... there’s only one way to find out, right!? Now I’m panicking a bit… but also secretly thrilled about the prospect of all that glitter. Let’s go!”

Scanlon is paired with pro dancer Carlos Gu.

Adam Thomas

Adam Thomas - Strictly Come Dancing
— (BBC)

Known to many for his role as Adam Barton in Emmerdale, the 34-year-old actor isn’t the only recognisable face in his family: elder brother Ryan played Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street from 2000 to 2016, while his twin Scott came third with Kady McDermott in the second season of Love Island (2016).

“I am so excited to be joining the cast of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing,” Thomas said. “I’ve been such a big fan of the show for years, I can’t believe I’m actually doing it! I can’t dance to save my life but I’m buzzing to learn and have a good laugh with my pro. Get me on that dance floor... I can’t wait!”

Thomas is paired with pro dancer Luba Mushtuk.

Ellie Leach

Ellie Leach
— (BBC)

Ellie Leach will be well-known to fans of Coronation Street, as she played the character Faye Windass from 2011 to 2023.

Now aged 22, the actor grew up in front of viewers’ eyes over the past 12 years and was nominated for several British Soap Awards and Inside Soap Awards for her performance, having tackled hard-hitting storylines such as a pregnancy at 13, early menopause and reconnecting with the child she gave up at birth.

Leach said: “It still doesn’t feel real that I’m going to be doing Strictly! It’s always been a dream of mine so I guess dreams really do come true!”

Leach is paired with pro dancer Vito Coppola.

Jody Cundy CBE

Jody Cundy
— (BBC)

World and Paralympic Champion Jody Cundy CBE has represented Great Britain at seven Summer Paralympics winning eight Gold, one Silver and three Bronze medals across swimming and cycling events, as well as having 23 world titles under his belt at the World Championships. His most recent win in Glasgow came a mere four days before his Strictly announcement on Wednesday 9 August.

Being no stranger to competitive sports, Cundy spoke of his excitement and being ready to “throw myself headfirst into the world of ballroom dancing”.

“[It’s] so far away from what I’m used to, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and pushing myself way out of my comfort zone, especially as I’m always last onto the dance floor.”

He added: “Can’t wait to get stuck in, bring on the glitter and sequins!”

Cundy is paired with pro dancer Jowita Przystał.

Bobby Brazier

Bobby Brazier
— (BBC)

Bobby Brazier, 20, will be familiar to EastEnders fans as Freddie Slater, a role he started in September 2022.

Others may be familiar with him from the runway, as a model for Dolce & Gabbana, or for sitting front-row at London Fashion Week beside Lewis Hamilton.

And there’ll be others who simply know him as the son of the late reality star Jade Goody and her former partner, presenter Jeff Brazier.

Speaking about his involvement in the long-running BBC dance competition, Brazier said: “I’m so excited to be part of the Strictly lineup, I can’t wait to start training like a professional dancer and adding a few moves to my locker. I’m looking forward to performing in front of everyone, it’s going to be so much fun!”

Brazier is paired with pro dancer Dianne Buswell.

Nigel Harman

Nigel Harman
— (BBC)

Harman, 49, has been in the entertainment business since he was eight. Many will recognise him from his role as Dennis Rickman in EastEnders, for which he won several awards including Most Popular Newcomer at the National Television Awards. He also has an Olivier for his role as the diminutive, bossy Lord Farquaad in Shrek.

Of joining the Strictly cast, Harman said: “I’m amazed, excited, and terrified to be doing Strictly. As an armchair fan of the show, I have watched in awe as people have twirled and gyrated across the screen. And now it’s my turn.....gulp!”

Harman is paired with pro dancer Katya Jones.

Annabel Croft

Annabel Croft
— (BBC)

Croft, 57, is a former British Number One tennis player who at 15 was the youngest British player to compete at Wimbledon for 95 years.

She also represented Great Britain in Wightman and Federation Cup competitions, and continues to present coverage of Wimbledon and numerous tennis events worldwide.

Outside of tennis, Croft has fronted entertainment shows such as Treasure Hunt and Inceptor.

She said: “I have always loved watching Strictly and can’t quite believe I’m going to be part of this magical show – swapping tennis balls for glitter balls and looking forward to finding some joyfulness in the process.”

Croft is paired with pro dancer Johannes Radebe.


Les Dennis
— (BBC)

TV personality and all-round entertainer Les Dennis was the first contestant eliminated from the 2023 series when he found himself in the bottom two and faced off against radio presenter Nikita Kanda.

Dennis, 69, has been in showbiz for more than 50 years, having started out as a comedian in Liverpool’s Working Men’s Club circuit.

Since then, he’s had an illustrious TV career as the host of Family Fortunes from 1987 to 2002, to roles in Coronation Street, Extras, Brookside, Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders. On stage, he’s starred in Hairspray, Legally Blonde: The Musical and 42nd Street.

Dennis was paired with pro dancer Nancy Xu on Strictly. They were eliminated first on Sunday 1 October.

Nikita Kanda – ELIMINATED

Nikita Kanda - Strictly Come Dancing
— (BBC)

Nikita Kanda, 28, hosts BBC Asian Network’s Breakfast show and previously hosted the station’s Saturday afternoon show.

As well as her work on the radiowaves, Kanda has also fronted regular reports on BBC One’s The One Show.

Kanda shared her excitement about joining Strictly 2023, explaining: “I can’t believe I’m going to be on Strictly. This is a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself. I don’t think it will properly sink in until I step onto the dancefloor. I can’t wait to get glammed up and get out there. Throw the glitter on me!”

Kanda was paired with pro dancer Gorka Márquez. They were eliminated second on Sunday 8 October.

Strictly Come Dancing’s live shows air on Saturday nights on BBC One.

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