Strictly Come Dancing 2020: Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing to EastEnders star Maisie Smith – meet the line-up

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After a slightly longer wait than usual, Strictly Come Dancing is back to bring some much-needed sparkle into our living rooms.

And the BBC extravaganza has a great line-up to keep us entertained over the next few months.

Twelve big Brit stars, including EastEnders actress Maisie Smith, Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin and Made In Chelsea cast member Jamie Laing, will be showing off their best moves as they take to the floor.

And, of course, the judges, Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood, will be returning to their (socially distanced) seats to have their say.

But who will lift the Glitterball and be crowned the 2020 champ? We meet the runners and riders ahead of their dance floor debuts…

Maisie Smith

Partner: Gorka Marquez

Profession: EastEnders actress

You won last year’s Children in Need special. Has that prepared you?

It helps me understand how much hard work I have to put in.

How will you juggle acting and training?

It’s going to be intense. In lockdown I wasn’t doing anything, so it’s a nice change.

Lots of your co-stars have taken part. What advice have they given you?

It’s amazing, to have fun and be myself.

Jamie Laing

Partner: Karen Hauer

Profession: Made In Chelsea star

Are you afraid of getting injured again?

I’ve done a lot of physio and worked hard, so hopefully it’ll be fine. If I get injured again it will just be embarrassing. Can’t let that happen.

Is your family excited?

My mum wasn’t gutted about last year, she was just disappointed. So I’ve got her support.

What will you do if judges give you criticism?

I will put a hex on them, that’s what I’ll do.

Max George

Partner: Dianne Buswell

Profession: Former The Wanted singer

It’s a tough competition. Can you take it on?

Because of the movie I’m shooting, I haven’t had time to work out. I’m going to have to hit the ground running.

Will being apart from your girlfriend be tough?

It will be difficult, but I’m used to being away.

What did she say about you doing the show?

She laughed – then laughed a bit more. She thinks it’s great.

Clara Amfo

Partner: Aljaž Škorjanec

Profession: Radio DJ

Is there anything you’d love to dance to?

A samba to Beautiful by Pharrell and Snoop.

Do you think escapism is important at the moment?

If there was any year we needed this show it is this year. It’s been challenging and I want to lean in to some joy.

You’re not afraid to flash the flesh in the costumes?

My mum said,“You don’t have to wear something too short. Just make sure it’s sensible, OK?” I’m like,“Yeah, all right.”

Ranvir Singh

Partner: Giovanni Pernice

Profession: Good Morning Britain host

Are the others very competitive?

I want everyone else to win. My manager is like, “You do realise that is not the right attitude.”

Have you had advice from anyone who’s taken part?

Richard Arnold, Kate Garraway, Charlotte Hawkins, Susanna Reid.

Are you ready for the physical challenge?

My agent sent me a weighted skipping rope for my birthday present. It was not a subtle hint.

Caroline Quentin

Partner: Johannes Radebe

Profession: Actress

Are you OK with the outfits?

I am going to let the experts do their thing.

Are you excited about it?

I am very excited about working one on one with a pro dancer. I’m hoping I’m going to learn some proper skills.

Is your family looking forward to it?

My husband is, my daughter is, but I have a 17-year-old boy and all his mates follow Strictly! They are so sweet and supportive.

HRVY

Partner: Janette Manrara

Profession: Singer

What dance style suits you best?
I feel anything would be best suited, but don’t think I’ll be able to do slow. I don’t want a waltz on the first week.

How do you feel about the spray tans?
I don’t mind the glitz and glam – you only do Strictly once!

And how about dancing live in front of millions?
I like to think I look cool enough to take it in my stride but I’ll be nervous.

Bill Bailey

Partner: Oti Mabuse

Profession: Actor and comedian

You’ve worn outlandish costumes in the past. Can we expect that here?

Absolutely. I love dressing up in all the spangly bits.

How much time can you put aside for training?

The whole live industry has stopped. There are no gigs. I’ve got a lot of time to focus on this.

How will you deal with being critiqued?
I’m my own harshest critic. I know when a show’s not right.

Nicola Adams

Partner: Katya Jones

Profession: Boxer

You asked to be paired with a female pro, why is that so important?
For diversity. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t see what the big deal would be.

Are you nervous about the audience?
The performance side of things is a lot easier for me because I’m used to performing in front of big crowds. At least that, the training and the competition side of things I’ll have down.

Jason Bell

Partner: Luba Mushtuk

Profession: Former NFL pro

How are you feeling?

I’m nervous, but that’s a good thing for me. I can’t wait to get started.

What are you most looking forward to?
The training. Once I start that I’ll feel in the groove more.

How’s the family reacted?

Nadine [Coyle, his ex- fiancée] and my daughter talk about Strictly daily, and I’m like, “Hey, let me just calm my nerves a little bit now!”

JJ Chalmers

Partner: Amy Dowden

Profession: Ex-Royal Marine and TV presenter

It’s a different challenge from Afghanistan, will you have the same attitude?

One hundred per cent. I’m going to be eating, sleeping, everything Strictly. I want to give this the best crack I can.

Is anything as fearsome as being critiqued by Craig?

I hope it pushes me on. I’m sure it will hurt my feelings now and again, but I know these judges only want the best for the individual.

Jacqui Smith

Partner: Anton Du Beke

Profession: Former Home Secretary

How have you prepared?

Look, I’m a 57-year-old woman, it’s going to be a huge physical demand. But since leaving parliament I’m a lot fitter. I run and do yoga.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Someone patient but who thinks they have to push me. I’m way out of my comfort zone, but it’s so exciting to learn a new skill with the best people in the business.

Strictly Come Dancing, Saturday, 7.25pm, BBC One

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