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Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launch: John Whaite and Johannes Radebe are the first all-male pairing

Strictly Come Dancing is back! 

On Saturday night, John Whaite, 32, and Johannes Radebe, 34, were unveiled as the first all-male pairing as the 2021 series of the BBC competition kicked off in style amid a Covid-19 crisis after two pro dancers refused the vaccine. 

Dusting off their paddles were returning judges Shirley Ballas, 61, Craig Revel Horwood, 56, and Motsi Mabuse, 40, alongside the newest addition to the panel, Strictly's longest-serving professional dancer Anton Du Beke, 55.  

Tess Daly, 52, and Claudia Winkleman, 49, returned to the ballroom for the launch, which opened with a sensational group performance from the professional dancers. 

Amazing! On Saturday night, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe were unveiled as the first all-male pairing as the 2021 series of the BBC competition kicked off in style

Finding out who his professional partner would be, John entered to find someone hiding inside a life-size cake, from which Johannes then sprang.

'When I saw a big sparkly cake I knew that it had to be Johannes!' admitted John, before gushing about taking part in Strictly, asserting: 'It's a massive honour this!'

He told Johannes that he would put in the work needed, and told his new dance partner: 'I want to have hips like Shakira by the time we've finished.'

John told viewers of their pairing: 'We're gonna be fierce, we're gonna be sassy, we're gonna set that dance floor on fire!' 

Surprise! Finding out who his professional partner would be, John entered to find someone hiding inside a cake, from which Johannes then sprang

Wow! Drenched in sequins, the launch show began with talented professional dancers glittering across the ballroom

John Whaite admitted in his confessional 'I've made it now' as he about how excited he was to secure a place on Strictly.

Explaining his passion for being glammed up, he admitted: 'I once went into school with fake tan and was given a scourer to take it off.'  

Drenched in sequins, the launch show began with talented professional dancers glittering across the ballroom before the show's hosts and judging panel made glamorous entrances. 

Host Tess sat atop a plastic white horse while dressed in a cripst white strapless jumpsuit as her blonde tresses billowed in the breeze. 

Claudia launched a sparkling confetti from a cannon while clad in a jaw-dropping black sequin number.   

The judges in turn gave some sass as they posed for the camera before making their way to the judging table. 

Here he is! Anton Du Beke took his place on the judging panel

Loving it! The Strictly stalwart put on a pair of sunglasses while clad in a sleek tux

Shirley opened by telling Tess and Claudia: 'I'm so excited. It's such an honour, such a privilege to be back here with everyone in this iconic ballroom.

'I can't wait for everyone to see what we've got in store!' 

Asked what it takes to win the glitterball Trophy, Anton pulled it up from by his side and joked: 'I don't really know. This is the closest I've ever come to this.

'They tell me hard work, listen to your partner and practice, practice, practice.' 

Later, speaking to camera in a pre-recorded moment, he admitted: 'I hope they seat me on the opposite side to Craig. He's gonna be all rude and unpleasant and I'm gonna be lovely!' 

An honour! Shirley opened by telling Tess and Claudia: 'I'm so excited. It's such an honour, such a privilege to be back here with everyone in this iconic ballroom'

What an entrance: Host Tess sat atop a plastic white horse while dressed in a cripst white strapless jumpsuit as her blonde tresses billowed in the breeze

Introducing himself, Roberts Webb enthused about taking part in Strictly: 'It's one of the first things I've done that my children can actually watch,' before admitting his eldest was less impressed than his youngest daughter.  

The comedian's professional dance partner was revealed as Dianne Buswell. After meeting, the red haired beauty taught her partner a few basic moves in a car park.

Speaking to Claudia, Dianne revealed to Robert that their first dance would be the Cha Cha Cha to Rasputin. 

Daddy's on TV! Introducing himself, Roberts Webb enthused about taking part in Strictly: 'It's one of the first things I've done that my children can actually watch'

It's Dianne! The comedian's professional dance partner was revealed as Dianne Buswell

Katie McGlynn admitted: 'Being on Strictly means I have to be myself. It is nerve wracking I have to say, but I'm excited about it.'

After showing off her rope-pulling mime moves, the soap star joked: 'Just hand me the trophy!' 

After a nerve-wracking wait, Katie's professional dance partner was unveiled as Gorka Marquez.

While chatting to Claudia, Katie once again showed off her rope lasso move, leaving Gorka to insist that he would be putting in the signature move to their first dance.  

Exciting! Katie McGlynn admitted: 'Being on Strictly means I have to be myself. It is nerve wracking I have to say, but I'm excited about it'

It's Gorka! After a nerve-wracking wait, Katie's professional dance partner was unveiled as Gorka Marquez

Rhys Stephenson confessed that he's ready to do whatever it takes to be a Strictly success, insisting: 'I'm merely a canvas, Strictly is the artist. Do what you want.' 

Rhys ended up being partnered with Nancy Xu and admitted to Claudia that he has had Strictly playlist for years, which he said is 'full of bangers.' 

Sara Davies touched on her Dragon's Den fame as she told viewers: 'We're ditching the boardbroom and heading to the ballroom instead!' 

The businesswoman's partner was unveiled as Aljaž Skorjanec, and the professional dancer wasted no time in getting started by teaching her how to do 'big fish, small fish.'

The pair showed their differences as Sarah insisted she wanted to be up and i npractice sessions from 6am every day, while Aljaž admitted his more of an 11am riser. 

Ready for action! Rhys Stephenson confessed that he's ready to do whatever it takes to be a Strictly success, insisting: 'I'm merely a canvas, Strictly is the artist. Do what you want.'

It's Nancy! Rhys ended up being partnered with Nancy Xu and admitted to Claudia that he has had Strictly playlist for years, which he said is 'full of bangers'

Taking a break from the unveiling of pairings, viewers were introduced to the four new professional dancers who have joined the BBC show.

Performing a sizzling mix of sexy dances with some of the stalwart Strictly dancing pros, Jowita Przystal, 26, Nikita Kuzmin, 23, Kai Widdrington, 25, and Cameron Lombard, 20, looked completely at ease.

They all came together in a dance filmed in a warehouse before stepping out onto the Strictly ballroom to huge applause. 

Boardroom to ballroom: Sara Davies touched on her Dragon's Den fame as she told viewers: 'We're ditching the boardbroom and heading to the ballroom instead!'

The businesswoman's partner was unveiled as Aljaž Skorjanec

Out of his comfort zone: Next up, Dan Walker admitted that waltzing into a world of glitter and daring costumes is something he's not particularly at ease with, saying: 'I've never undone two buttons in my life!'

Next up, Dan Walker admitted that waltzing into a world of glitter and daring costumes is something he's not particularly at ease with, saying: 'I've never undone two buttons in my life!' 

The BBC Broadcaster was partnered with Nadiya Bychkova and he admitted: 'She has fully put me at ease - I think we can do it, together!'  

While signing as she spoke, Rose Ayling-Ellis gushed: 'When the Strictly news was announced, The response from the deaf community was my proudest moment.' 

'You hear with body language, with vibrations, with atmosphere. I can still enjoy music, it's just a different experience.' 

Amazing! While signing as she spoke, Rose Ayling-Ellis gushed: 'When the Strictly news was announced, The response from the deaf community was my proudest moment'

It's Giovanni! Giovanni Pernice was unveiled as Rose's professional dance partner

While on the dancefloor chatting to Tess, actress Rose reiterated her earlier sentiments about the positivity she's had from the deaf community and added: 'Finally they see someone like them on Strictly!'

The soap star also introduced her interpreter for the first time, explaining that she would be there to help Rose to communicate. 

Giovanni Pernice was unveiled as Rose's professional dance partner, and showed off some of the sign language he has learned, and continued to ask her to teach him at every opportunity. 

'He's very open to teaching me in a new way!' gushed Rose to Claudia, before being told that they would be performing the jive as their first dance.  

The soap star also introduced her interpreter for the first time, explaining that she would be there to help Rose to communicate

Adam Peaty spoke to camera in his introduction to reel off his incredible sporting achievements.

Chatting to Tess on the dancefloor he said: 'I'm a swimmer, I'm meant to be horizontal. Being vertical I'm not so comfortable!' 

Adam's professional partner was unveiled as Katya Jones, who told viewers: 'This is how it's going to work - I tell him what to do. He listens and does.' 

Claudia branded the pairing: 'the most competitive couple we've ever had!'  

Sports star: Adam Peaty said: 'I'm a swimmer, I'm meant to be horizontal. Being vertical I'm not so comfortable!'

It's Katya! Adam's professional partner was unveiled as Katya Jones, who told viewers: 'This is how it's going to work - I tell him what to do. He listens and does'

AJ Odudu admitted: 'You may never have seen me at all!' after listing her presenting credentials, and confessed: 'I'm hoping this experiences unleashes gracefulness in me.' 

The presenter was paired with new Strictly professional dancer Kai Widdrington. 

AJ also revealed that she once broke her toe on a disco ball in her living room while 'living it up' watching Strictly Come Dancing on TV.   

So up for it! Greg Wise enthused: 'Give me all the feathers, all the sequins. I am ready to give 100%. This 55 year old man might surprise you!'

It's Karen! Greg Wise was paired up with Karen Hauer

Greg Wise enthused: 'Give me all the feathers, all the sequins. I am ready to give 100%. This 55 year old man might surprise you!'

While at a stately home, Greg arrived on a white horse and was paired up with Karen Hauer, with the duo admitting they were both 'thrilled.'

The actor admitted of Karen: 'Secretly, I was hoping I would get her.'  

Yes queen! Judi Love was bursting with energy as she introduced herself to viewers and stated: 'From this day forward, I am a dancer... I am gonna dance my socks off!'

It's Graziano! Graziano Di Prima was unveiled as Judi's partner and the Loose Women star admitted to Claudia that she dreamt of being paired with the Italian stallion

Judi Love was bursting with energy as she introduced herself to viewers and stated: 'From this day forward, I am a dancer... I am gonna dance my socks off!'

Asked by Tess if her daughters now believe she's on the show, Judi admitted when they had to help her into the bath after training, they realised. 

The comedian jokes her daughter was put off while assisting her naked mother from behind, but Judi told her: 'Girl, you came from there, get over it!' 

Graziano Di Prima was unveiled as Judi's partner and the Loose Women star admitted to Claudia that she dreamt of being paired with the Italian stallion. 

He revealed that they would be dancing to Aretha Franklin and performing the American Smooth.  

Hilarious: Nina Wadia spoke about her first fake tan experience, telling Tess: 'I asked for Bombay Glow but I think I got three weeks in the Sahara'

It's Neil! The actress was teamed up with professional dancer Neil Jones, who enthused: 'I couldn't be happier'

Nina Wadia spoke about her first fake tan experience, telling Tess: 'I asked for Bombay Glow but I think I got three weeks in the Sahara.' 

The actress was teamed up with professional dancer Neil Jones, who enthused: 'I couldn't be happier.' 

Tom Fletcher introduced himself as 'an author / musician' before admitting that he's probably best known and one-quarter of McFly.

'I don't know if my kids like my music all my books to be honest!' laughed the performer as he begged viewers to not compare him to Harry Judd who previously won Strictly.

Tom's partner was unveiled as Amy Dowden who promised to be 'kind and patient' with the pop star, who was delighted to find out who he'd been paired with.

Tom then performed 'It's All About You' but switched the lyric 'baby' to 'Amy' in honour of Tom's new dance partner. 

Multi talented: Tom Fletcher introduced himself as 'an author / musician' before admitting that he's probably best known and one-quarter of McFly

It's Amy! Tom's partner was unveiled as Amy Dowden who promised to be 'kind and patient' with the pop star, who was delighted to find out who he'd been paired with

Tilly Ramsay admitted: 'I'm not scared of the judges My dad is Gordon Ramsay. How scary can Craig be compared to him?'

Tilly Ramsay confessed: 'It's quite terrifying' as she embarked on her Strictly journey but insisted she doesn't fear the judges.

The TikTok star admitted: 'I'm not scared of the judges My dad is Gordon Ramsay. How scary can Craig be compared to him?' 

After being paired up with Strictly professional newcomer Nikita Kumzin, Tilly videocalled her famous dad, Gordon Ramsay who quickly told Nikita to button up his shirt. 

Ugo Monye was the final celebrity contestant to find out who his dancing partner was, and was delighted when he find out he'd be dancing with Oti Mabuse.

The reigning champion admitted that she is going to have to find a way to keep rugby player Oti quiet because he's extremely chatty.

Entertainment! Anne Marie put on a powerful performance between the pairings being unveiled 

STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?

TOM FLETCHER

Age: 36

Profession: McFly musician

Tom says: 'I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.'

Fun fact: Tom's McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom's wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

ROBERT WEBB

 Age: 48

Profession: Actor and comedian

Robert says: 'It's very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.'

Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let's Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from '80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title. 

RHYS STEPHENSON  

Age: 27

Profession: CBBC presenter  

Rhys says: 'I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation'

Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville. 

KATIE MCGLYNN

 Age: 28

Profession: Actress

Katie says: 'I'm really not a dancer, but I'm so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.'

Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020. 

TILLY RAMSAY

Age: 19

Profession: CBBC presenter

Tilly says: ’I'm going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!'

Fun fact: Tilly's father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.

NINA WADIA  

Age: 52

Profession: Actress

Nina says: 'I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.'

Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year's Honours List. 

ADAM PEATY

Age: 26

Profession: Athlete 

Adam says: 'I'm really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.'

Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

UGO MONYE

Age: 38

Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit

Ugo says: 'What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.

Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.

AJ ODUDU

Age: 33

Profession: TV presenter

 AJ says: 'I think it's going to be really challenging. I can't wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.'

Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.

JOHN WHAITE

Age: 33

Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef

 John says: 'I'm so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family... I've been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can't wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth'

Fun Fact: John is set tp be part of the first ever all-male partnering - the first in 17 years of the show.

SARA DAVIES 

Age: 37  

Profession:  Businesswoman

Sara says: 'I'm really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance... Truth be told – I haven't got a clue! I've not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.'

Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons' Den.

DAN WALKER

Age: 44 

Profession: Journalist

Dan says: 'I'm enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I'll be honest I'm not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.'

Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.

 GREG WISE

Age: 55

Profession: Actor

Greg says: 'It's about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can't dance, and learning.'

Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.  

ROSE AYLING-ELLIS

Age: 30

Profession: Actress

Rose says: 'I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.'

 Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly's first deaf contestant. 

 JUDI LOVE

Age: 41

Profession: Comedienne 

Judi says: 'I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!'

Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.

Football news:

Bayern conceded 3 goals in 21 minutes of the game with Borussia Gladbach in the German Cup
Barcelona has not scored in 5 of the last 10 matches
Barca have 3 away defeats in a row without goals for the first time since 1987. Then the club changed the coach
Juventus lost in 3 out of 10 rounds of Serie A. This happened only twice in the three-point era
Miranchuk came out in the 78th minute of the match with Sampdoria and gave an assist
Barcelona has lost 3 of the last 4 matches in La Liga and is 9th
Juventus is 13 points behind the leading Milan in Serie A after 10 rounds