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Strictly Come Dancing: Jacqui Smith completes 2020 line-up

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has been confirmed as the 12th and final celebrity contestant on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Smith will join with stars including Bill Bailey, Clara Amfo, and HRVY.

The 2020 series will begin in October but will be shorter than usual, and judge Bruno Tonioli will have a reduced role amid coronavirus restrictions.

The contestants will be staying in a hotel for two weeks ahead of pre-recording all the the group dances.

The BBC also confirmed they will be able to rehearse, perform and go home to their family each night – following government guidelines.

The contestants

Jacqui Smith was confirmed as the final celebrity dancer on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show on Friday afternoon.

The former Labour politician became the UK’s first female home secretary in 2007 – under then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown – and has since worked as a political broadcaster.

“I was speechless with excitement at being asked to join Strictly – and that’s very rare for me,” said Smith.

“Fifty years ago, I got a bronze medal for Scottish Highland Dancing and it feels about time to return to dancing.”

“I couldn’t be in better hands with the Strictly team and I’m going to throw myself into the challenge. Watch out!” she added.

Smith is now the chair of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Sandwell Children’s Trust. She also has a podast, called For the Many, that she presents with broadcaster Iain Dale.

HRVY was revealed as a contestant on the Kiss breakfast show and said he was “so thankful to be taking part”.

The pop singer, whose real name is Harvey Leigh Cantwell, has more than a billion combined streams to his name.

He has a social media following of more than 10 million and performed at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough last year.

The 21-year-old rose to fame after uploading his music videos to Facebook. He has since sold out UK and European tours and his debut album will be out later this year.

“Being on Strictly is going to be such an amazing experience and I’m so thankful to be taking part this year,” he said.

“I think my mum is more excited that she’ll be able to see me every Saturday night now!”

Maisie Smith is an actress and singer is best known for playing Tiffany Butcher-Baker in EastEnders.

“Get me in those sequins,” she said, reacting to the news of her announcement.

“I can’t wait to dive into the Strictly fancy dress box this winter!”

Before storming into Albert Square as Bianca’s daughter, Tiffany, Smith made her acting debut in the 2008 film, The Other Boleyn Girl – alongside Scarlett Johansson and Eddie Redmayne.

Her role in the long-running BBC soap saw her scoop the award for best dramatic performance from a young actress, at the 2009 British Soap Awards.

Jamie Laing returns to the show this year, after having to pull out of last year’s series before it began due to an injury.

He became a household name in 2011 on the Channel 4 reality show, Made in Chelsea, and this year launched his own podcast, 6 Degrees from Jamie and Spencer, alongside Spencer Matthews.

He also founded the sweets brand, Candy Kittens, in 2012.

“Here we go again, hopefully this time I can last long enough so my mum can see me dance,” said Laing.

He added: “The reason I’m doing it, is to make my mum proud but all I did last year was make her even more disappointed. Let’s change that this year, can’t wait!!”

JJ Chalmers‘ career as a Royal Marine Commando was cut short after he suffered life-changing injuries following an IED explosion in Afghanistan.

The blast crushed an eye socket, burst his eardrums, destroyed his right elbow, blew off two fingers on his left hand and left holes in his legs.

After years of rehabilitation, including more than 30 operations, he went on to compete in the 2014 Invictus Games where he captained the Trike Cycling team and took home three medals.

He later embarked on a career in broadcasting, presenting coverage of the Rio Paralympics and anchoring BBC One’s coverage of the Invictus Games.

Comparing Strictly to his military experience, he told ITV’s Lorraine: “I’m always looking for a challenge, I’m always looking to push myself outside of my comfort zone.”

Despite his injuries, Chalmers said he wanted to be treated like “any other contestant” and didn’t want any “special treatment”.

“Whoever I partner with they’ve got their work cut out,” he added.

Bill Bailey is an comedian, actor and musician is known for appearances on TV shows like QI, Black Books and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

“In these strange times we’re living through, it feels right to do something different and take on a new challenge,” he said in a statement.

“I haven’t been to stage school and learnt to dance. I haven’t lived for the dance… I’m not really Lord of the Dance. I’m caretaker of the dance,” he joked. “It’s going to be quite a challenge but then that’s what this is about, taking on a new skill.”

Bailey, 55, made his name on the stand-up circuit before becoming a regular panel show guest, TV and film actor, documentary presenter, and host of the BBC sketch show Is It Bill Bailey?

He is also a classically-trained musician and has published a guide to British birds. On Wednesday, in a review of his first live gig for six months, The Daily Telegraph said he “remains one of the funniest, most brilliantly original comedians in the UK”.

Clara Amfo, who hosts BBC Radio 1’s late morning slot, aid she “couldn’t wait to fully embrace” the experience of Strictly.

In recent years, Amfo has presented coverage of Glastonbury, the Brit Awards, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, the Bafta TV Awards and The Proms.

“As we know this year has been a real challenge and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy,” she said.

“So to be taught by a pro and live a fantasy is something that I can’t wait to fully embrace, see you on the dancefloor!”

Ranvir Singh is Good Morning Britain’s political editor and occasional host, and also appears on other ITV programmes including Loose Women, Tonight and Eat, Shop, Save. She is about to start co-hosting a new Sunday morning show, All Around Britain.

Singh said she felt “complete terror” at the idea of taking part, likening it to “embarking on a rollercoaster”.

She previously worked as a producer and reporter for the BBC for 12 years, and presented BBC North West Tonight.

Singh said: “The initial feeling of being confirmed for Strictly is one of complete terror – feels like embarking on a rollercoaster, where you really want to do it but you are equally scared.

“Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick!”

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Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will make Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the first contestant to be part of a same-sex pairing.

She told BBC Breakfast she was the one who suggested having a female partner when producers asked her to take part.

“I think it’s really important,” she said. “It’s definitely time for change.

Adams won a gold medal for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, and again in Rio in 2016. She retired from the sport last year.

Award-winning actress and presenter Caroline Quentin is known for a range of acting roles, including Maddie in Jonathan Creek and DCI Janine Lewis in Blue Murder.

She has also starred in Kiss Me Kate, Life Begins and Life of Riley.

However, arguably her most famous role was playing Dorothy in the hit 90s sitcom Men Behaving Badly.

She recently presented the documentary series Extraordinary Homes for BBC Two.

Quentin said she was “thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part” in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Broadcaster Jason Bell is a former professional American footballer.

He played as a cornerback/safety in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys.

Bell then played for the Houston Texans, where he was named a recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, one of the league’s highest honours. He finished his professional career with the New York Giants.

Bell now co-hosts The Jason & Osi Podcast with another former NFL star, Osi Umenyiora, and the pair appear as pundits on the NFL Show on the BBC.

“Strictly is the epitome of British television and this year, more than ever, I’m so proud and humbled to be participating,” he said.

“Strictly was the first show I ever watched when I moved to the UK and I’m a massive fan. My six-year-old daughter never got the chance to see me run out on the field at an NFL game but she is very excited about me taking to the dance floor. I hope I can do her proud.”

Singer and actor Max George shot to fame as a member of boy band The Wanted.

His former bandmate, Jay McGuiness, previously won Strictly Come Dancing in 2015.

George said he was “buzzing to be on Strictly this year”, joking: “I’m not really one for the dance floor, but I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jay McGuiness set The Wanted’s bar so low.”

The Wanted had two number one singles in the UK – All Time Low and Glad You Came – with the latter reaching the top three in the US Billboard chart.

After The Wanted took a break, Max moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and starred in the sixth season of Glee as Clint. He recently returned to music as a solo artist.

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