CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson has been announced as the fifth celebrity to take part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The actor, who is the best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, will join AJ Odudu, GBBO’s John Whaite, Robert Webb and Tom Fletcher in the line-up.
Rhys said he is ‘buzzing’ to be a part of Strictly and ‘can’t wait’ to start rehearsals for the show, set to air this autumn.
Keep dancing! CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson has been announced as the fifth celebrity to take part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing
The presenter revealed his signing on Newsround on Friday and said: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation.
‘I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare. I am ready.’
As well as presenting CBBC live, Rhys as also presented some of the biggest shows across the CBBC slate, including Blue Peter and Saturday Mash-Up!, and appeared on The Dengineers and Newsround.
Excited: Rhys, who is the best known as the face of children’s television channel CBBC, said he is ‘buzzing’ to be a part of Strictly
Taking to Instagram Rhys wrote: ‘IT’S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can’t wait to get started on this iconic show’
Outside of presenting, Rhys is an ambassador for Place2Be, a charity which provides mental health services in schools.
Sharing his news on Instagram, the presenter wrote: ‘IT’S HAPPENING, Strictly 2021!!! I’m shaking! I can’t wait to get started on this iconic show, I want it all, the sequins, the costumes, Craig’s glare, BRING IT.’
Rhys’ signing comes after Great British Bake Off winner John revealed he will be one-half of the show’s first all-male partnership.
Making history: Rhys’ signing comes after Great British Bake Off winner John revealed he will be one-half of the show’s first all-male partnership
After much controversy during the show’s 17 year run over the prospect of a same-sex pairing, Strictly is finally addressing the call for change with John delightedly praising the ‘great step forward in representation and inclusion’.
He said: ”What’s exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion.’
John later took to Instagram to thank fans for their support, as he broke down in tears while talking into the camera.
John went on: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 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…
Yay! After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being’
‘Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!’
After the announcement, he took to Instagram to tearfully celebrate the news: ‘Oh my god, you guys, there’s so many nice messages already and I’ve only just come off air and I’m actually crying real tears because of how nice you’re all being….
‘I’m so excited to be on Strictly, it’s a dream come true and it’s even more of a dream to be doing the first all-male partnership and I hope that there are kids watching who look up and think, “It’s okay to be who you are”.
‘So thanks for all the messages, I’m going back to bed, lots of love!’
John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23. John has presented various TV shows and currently has a weekly cooking segment on Steph’s Packed Lunch.
He has written for a variety of newspaper and magazines on the topics of food and mental health, and has published five cookery books. John also runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen.
Back then: John won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, in 2012, at the age of 23 (pictured in 2016)
John used his GBBO fame for good, when he won the show and began fighting for LGBTQ rights. He appeared on the cover of the UK gay culture magazine Attitude with his now husband-to-be, Paul Atkins, to whom he became engaged in 2017.
He spoke about his experience of coming out, saying: ‘I didn’t really know any gay people because it was still a bit of a touchy subject, especially being a working class northern lad – it wasn’t often discussed…
‘But I really admired my friends at drama who were all very ‘fabulous darling’ and they really helped me through it.
‘I definitely want to marry Paul (my partner of five years – not Paul Hollywood!) because I adore him and respect him so much…
Tough: John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes
‘I know I don’t want to be with anyone else and I have tested what else is out there! When it comes to cake, I’ll be making lots of our families’ favourites!’
John spoke of how post-GBBO fame impacted him after going on a downward spiral and even speaking of the behaviour of BBC in his woes.
He said: ‘Some days I’d wish I had never been on the show, because in reality, it totally derailed me from a steady lifepath. I could blame the production company or the BBC.
‘It would be simple to point the finger and say they gave me no advice on how to manage the transience of the industry, or how to comprehend the temporariness of my appeal.
Delight: He thanked fans and followers for their support
‘They didn’t, and perhaps in the wake of reality TV star meltdowns and suicides, there should be a serious reform of the way contributors are prepared for, and guided through, their post-show life.
‘But I don’t think it would have made an ounce of difference even if they had. Addiction to the razzle dazzle came naturally to the youthful me…
‘What I failed to remember though, was that age-old mantra: be careful what you wish for. Because as the next batch of Bake Off stars emerged, my appeal shrank. Year on year, the working days became fewer and financial offers were smaller.
‘The life to which I had become accustomed slowly dissolved. With more days alone at home, waiting by the phone like an anxious 1980s teenager urging their crush to call, my already depressed state of mind worsened…
‘I drank more than I should have and posted unwisely on Instagram and Twitter. If I knew then what I knew now, would I do it all again? Absolutely. But I’d approach it so differently.’
Line-up: It comes after the first three names have been announced for Strictly Come Dancing 2021 [pictured McFly’s Tom Fletcher (L) and presenter AJ Odudu (R)]
Earlier this week, the first three names were announced for this year’s show.
McFly pop star Tom, Peep Show actor Robert and presenter AJ were revealed on Wednesday’s edition of The One Show, with the rest of the names set to be drip-fed to fans over the next couple of weeks.
Tom, 36, has big shoes to fill on Strictly. His McFly bandmate Harry Judd won the show in 2011. And Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Starring role: Peep Show actor Robert Webb is also taking to the floor
Robert, 48, is sure to feel the pressure too, after he 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.
2021 has been a busy year for AJ, 33, who has featured on 14 TV shows, including 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.
The three contestants were unveiled one by one with The One Show presenter Alex Jones revealing they were given the code names of Buzz Lightyear (Tom), Spoongebob Squarepants (Robert) and Marge Simpson (AJ).
Big shoes to fill! Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly n 2011 [L] while Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009 [R]
Music and dancing: Tom is on quarter of boy band McFly [pictured last week with Dougie Poynter and Danny Jones]
Excited: Tom was the first celebrity announced and said: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret’
Over the moon: In a statement, Tom said: ‘I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in’
Cackling: Tom also shared his sister’s hilarious reaction to the news on Instagram, where it seemed she was beside herself with laughter
The veteran dance show was famously disrupted in 2020 thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But it seems things are back to normal in 2021 – apart from one or two factors still deemed too tricky to navigate amid the global health crisis.
Show boss Sarah James told The Mirror: ‘We’re so thrilled that Strictly will be returning for a full-length series this year, and know how much viewers are looking forward to getting their full Strictly fix and seeing the return of much-loved specials.
‘We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future.’
The Blackpool episode ordinarily takes place near the end of the series, but was axed last year with restrictions throwing up logistical difficulties on the production.
‘Undertone of terror’: Robert was the next star announced, along with a hilarious clip of his 2009 Comic Relief performance
Overjoyed: AJ was the third contestant announced and told how she kept her participation in the series a secret from her mother Florence, who was watching at home
But 2021 will include the show’s themed weeks – such as movie week, musicals week and Halloween week.
Last year, these were scrapped, proving too complicated to manage amid the pandemic. The show’s Christmas special will also be back, with the show set to start in its usual early-autumn time slot, rather than in October, like last year.
It’s said rather than a fewer number of celebs, the full 15 will be taking part again, having cut this to 12 last series.
Still a no-go: Blackpool has been axed AGAIN due to the ongoing pandemic
There are also plans to reinstate the live audience too – another aspect disallowed last season.
Isolation will remain in place for the professional dancers. This will see them sent to a hotel near the Strictly studios in Hertfordshire several weeks ahead of the show’s return.
The celebs will also not have the usual three-week gap between being paired up with their pros and dancing for the first time on live TV. This has been reduced to one week thanks to logistical factors.
Show boss Sarah James said: ‘We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future’
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?
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!
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.
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.
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: AJ has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
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