Strictly Come Dancing will have first ever male pairing as Bake Off winner John Whaite joins line-up

John Whaite has been confirmed as a celebrity contestant for this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Credit: BBC

Strictly Come Dancing will have its first ever male pairing as John Whaite becomes the fourth celebrity to be announced for this year's series.

Whaite said his all-male partnership will be a "great step forward in representation and inclusion" as the news was revealed by Matt Lucas on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday morning.

McFly star Tom Fletcher, TV presenter AJ Odudu and Peep Show’s Robert Webb were already announced as the first celebrity contestants on Wednesday.

Whaite told Lucas: “It’s an honour. When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought, you know, to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing, but also just to see two men or two women dancing together is not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect.

Strictly Come Dancing Credit: PA

“And I think that’s going to be such a great thing in our culture, where men are sort of conditioned not to open up and not to be emotional, I think it might help to combat that.

“So I’m excited on so many levels to be doing the first all-male partnership. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. And I don’t think it will until I find out who I’m actually dancing with."

The 33-year-old chef's professional dance partner has not yet been confirmed.

Last year, boxer Nicola Adams was the first to have a same-sex partner in the TV competition as she was paired with professional Katya Jones.

Whaite said he is “very, very nervous” about taking part in Strictly Come Dancing.

He said: “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 dancefloor on earth."

The chef won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on the Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.

McFly star Fletcher was the first star to be announced in an unveiling on the BBC's One Show.

The singer said he was "equal parts excited and terrified," adding: "I feel naked without a guitar. I am so used to holding a guitar on stage."

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He'll be hoping to mirror the success of wife Giovanna Fletcher who won ITV's I'm a Celebrity last year.

Fletcher, author of the children’s book The Christmasaurus, said: "I think the fact that I’m actually going to be dancing on Strictly this year has only just started to sink in while I’m writing this! I’m incredibly excited, of course, but also totally terrified!

"My kids were excited too until I started showing them my best dad-dancing in the kitchen. I’m not sure how far they’ll get me in the competition but I can’t wait to add some new moves to my embarrassing dad-dancing repertoire."

Comedian and actor Webb was the second celebrity contestant announced.

He said: "It is very, very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror."

The Peep Show star said: "It’s a big, generous, joyful show and I can’t wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman. At least I think that’s what happens.

"My goal is to try and survive from week to week without causing serious injury to myself or innocent bystanders. I know it’s going to be a challenge.

"To do well in this competition is a test of character, although mainly it’s a test of dancing."

TV presenter AJ Odudu was the third star announced to be joining the dance floor.

The newly announced stars of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. Credit: PA

Comparing the series to SAS: Who Dares Win, in which she has also appeared, she said: "It is not climbing a literal mountain but it is definitely going to be challenging."

The 33-year-old added: "I am beyond chuffed that I am going to be on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and I’m so glad I can finally tell my mum.

"Her face will be a picture, she’s going to be over the moon! I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!"

She has presented TV shows including The Voice, The Voice Kids, Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Don’t Rock The Boat and Apocalypse Wow.

Strictly will once again see a shakeup to the judging panel as Anton Du Beke stands in for regular Bruno Tonioli who is unable to take part due to ongoing uncertainty over international travel.

Bill Bailey won Strictly 2020. Credit: PA

Du Beke joined the judging panel during the 2020 series for a two-week stint, but will now become a permanent fixture during the 2021 series.

Last year's season saw comedian Bill Bailey lift the glitterball and claim Strictly victory with professional dance partner Oti Mabuse.