EastEnders star James Bye joins Strictly Come Dancing line-up

James Bye is best known for portraying Martin Fowler in Eastenders. Credit: PA

EastEnders star James Bye has been announced as the latest addition to the Strictly Come Dancing line-up. The actor, best known for playing fan favourite Martin Fowler, was unveiled live on ITV’s Good Morning Britain outside the BBC soap’s fictional Walford East tube station.

The announcement brings the total number of celebrities unveiled for the upcoming 20th series of the show to 14, starting with Will Mellor and Kym Marsh early last week.

On Thursday, it was revealed that wildlife cameraman and presenter Hamza Yassin and former X Factor star Fleur East would also compete.

Yassin, 32 is one of the hosts of the BBC’s Animal Park and a guest presenter on Countryfile.He may be a familiar face to younger viewers as Ranger Hamza on the popular CBeebies live-action show Let’s Go For A Walk.Announcing the news on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: “My dance skills are currently at the level of ‘1970’s disco vibe’ but I’m ready to work hard and will be shaking it every time I get the chance – shake it ‘til you make it!”

Yassin was the second contestant for this year’s series to be announced on Thursday, after pop singer, presenter and former X Factor finalist Fleur East was unveiled earlier in the day.

East, 34, who appeared on The X Factor in 2005 and 2014, is the 12th confirmed name for the upcoming series.

The Hits Radio host said she will dedicate her performance to her late father, who was a big fan of the BBC show.

“For me, it is quite sentimental because my daddy passed away in 2020 and Strictly was his favourite show," she told ITV's Lorraine. “When I was on The X Factor, in the breaks in the live studio, he used to check his phone for the Strictly updates because he was really annoyed that he couldn’t watch Strictly. “I am going to be doing it for him. I am gutted that he can’t see me do it, to be honest. But I am just going to keep him in mind when I am doing the show.”

She will compete with comedian Ellie Taylor, Matt Goss, Ellie Simmonds, Kaye Adams, Richie Anderson and comedian Jayde Adams.

On Wednesday, it was revealed CBBC star Molly Rainford and retired England football player and manager Tony Adams would also be taking part in the competition.

Rainford, 21, is one of the youngest contestants to join the line up. The singer found fame at the age of 11 in 2012 when she became the youngest ever finalist on Britain’s Got Talent.

Soon after, she studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she was awarded their first ever scholarship.

Currently she is the star of the popular CBBC series Nova Jones, which began on the channel in 2021.

Speaking ahead of her dancing debut, Rainford said: "I'm super excited for the challenge to push myself outside of my comfort zone and hopefully add another string to my bow. 

"And on top of all that, I absolutely love the glitz and glamour the show brings to the floor every week."

Retired football manager and player Adams has a career spanning over 22 years, and played for both Arsenal and England, and been a captain of both.

Upon the news being announced, he said: "To say I’m excited is an understatement - the lure of the sequins and the call of the salsa has me swapping my battered old football boots for a set of Strictly soft shoes. 

"Am absolutely thrilled to be giving it my all on this year’s 20th anniversary of Strictly Come Dancing. I can’t wait to meet my partner - god help her - and start the dancing."

Earlier this week, it was announced that Ellie Taylor would also be joining the Strictly line up.

The comedian and actress is best known for her latest role in Ted Lasso, and as a former Heart FM presenter.

She announced she was joining the competition during Tuesday morning's instalment of Lorraine she said: "Well, cover me in fake tan and roll me in sequins! I'm absolutely over the moon to be a part of Strictly 2022."

Matt Goss, 53, said he is “optimistic” about his chances on Strictly Come Dancing because he is “very supple from the knees down”, after he was announced as the eighth celebrity contestant for the forthcoming series.

Announcing the news on ITV’s This Morning, the singer joked he is “eating everything that’s favourable to Spandex” ahead of making his debut on the dancefloor.

He found fame with the band Bros, along with his twin brother Luke and their friend Craig Logan.

Matt Goss (left) and Luke Goss attending the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards. Credit: PA

Goss joining this year's line-up follows the news that Tyler West would be taking part.

At the beginning of this week West, 26 who presents Kiss FM in the afternoons, announced he too would be joining the BBC show.

He broke the news on the station's breakfast show hosted by Jordan Banjo and Perry Kiely on Monday. 

He revealed in a statement: "I am SO gassed to be joining the Strictly family! As I started writing this I already got cramp. It’s going to be one crazy incredible journey which will no doubt be SO far outside my comfort zone."

Five-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds was also unveiled as a contestant this week.

As the news was being announced, Simmonds said: "Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!! It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone. I’m going on Strictly Come Dancing!!"

The contestants will feature in the 20th series, which will see audiences returning to the studio. The launch show is scheduled to be recorded on September 7.

On Friday, it was announced that broadcast personalities Kaye Adams and Richie Anderson were joining the Strictly Come Dancing 2022 line-up.

As well as presenting Loose Women, which she has been hosting since 1999, Adams is a presenter on BBC Radio Scotland's morning show.

During Friday's episode of Loose Women, 59-year-old Adams revealed she was "terrified" of the upcoming Strictly series. She added: "I can't dance at all".

Anderson, 34, is a regular fixture on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, where he presents the travel bulletins. He is also a regular presenter on The One Show.

Will Mellor and Kym Marsh were announced as contestants on Thursday.

Marsh found fame in the band Hear’Say, who were created through ITV show Popstars in 2001, before turning to acting and starring as Michelle Connor in Coronation Street.

She now co-presents Morning Live alongside Gethin Jones and recently appeared in the touring theatre production of Fatal Attraction.

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast via video call from holiday, she said: “I am really looking forward to it. I am nervous – but I am really looking forward to it.”

Questioned over how she will react to being grilled by the judges, Marsh replied: “Listen, I was judged by Nasty Nigel (Nigel Lythgoe) on Pop Stars. Don’t forget that. He was the villain back in the day.

“I think I will be fine with it. These are people who I truly respect because this is what they do. I will have to suck it up, I guess. I will be fine. I won’t start waving my fist at people or anything like that."

Will Mellor, who starred as Gaz in cult sitcom Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, said Strictly is his mother Shirley’s favourite show and that following the death of his father in 2020 from cancer he wanted to create new memories.

He said: “The training side of it is one of the reasons why I’m doing it. My mindset completely changed a while back and I just thought I’ve got to start doing things that frighten me a little bit and step out of your comfort zone, and that’s what life is about.

“And when I got the phone call for this I just said: ‘Yes, I’m going to do it.’"

Winners of the 2021 series, Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice. Credit: PA

Four new professional dancers will appear in the next series of Strictly, creating the show’s largest ever roster.

It comes after two-time winner Oti Mabuse and Aljaz Skorjanec announced their departures.

The last series of Strictly was won by Rose Ayling-Ellis with her professional partner Giovanni Pernice.